Statement delivered on behalf of Pacific SIDS
To the UN Security Council Open VTC on ‘Climate and Security’
23 February 2021
Honourable Chair, Excellencies.
On behalf of the Pacific SIDS, we congratulate the United Kingdom on assuming the Presidency of the Security Council for the month of February. We also welcome the opportunity to contribute to this Security Council Open VTC to highlight the close link between climate and security.
We associate ourselves with the statement delivered by the Hon Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda & Chair of AOSIS and we are also supportive of the statement delivered by the Group of Friends on Climate and Security.
Climate Change is a grave existential threat. Just six years ago, UN Secretary Ban Ki- Moon spoke about combatting climate change, promoting sustainable development and addressing the vulnerabilities of SIDS during the Open debate, four years later, UNSG Gutteres eloquently said and I quote “While we tackle COVID19, we cannot postpone Climate Action because the climate crisis is not on hold. To tackle Climate Change, it will demand partnership, capacity and global leadership.” Unquote.
This year the UN Secretary-General has placed climate as one of his priorities and labels it as “the defining issue of our time” and we strongly support it. As SIDS, we are at the forefront of the drastic and life-changing impacts of climate change that are altering lives, communities, and economies daily. With Climate change the intensity of natural disasters in our region has increased and created humanitarian crisis in some of our states. A single cyclone can wipe out up to 30% of our GDP overnight wiping out decades of development gains. Climate Change, like COVID-19, is borderless, it is a ‘threat multiplier’ affecting the very core pillars of the UN Charter.
Our cultures, traditions, and livelihoods are intrinsically linked to our environment. Our Pacific Leaders have declared climate change as a crisis and have reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris Agreement and its principles and committed to a single regional position on climate change through the Kainaki Lua Declaration. They have constantly called for the security and wellbeing of Pacific people. Within our own PSIDS, we have our small atoll nations whose security is directly impacted with diminished access to fresh water, local food supply and coastal infrastructure damage. This threat is increasing at a time when we as SIDS are already facing complex geopolitical dynamics and multifaceted security.
Globally, displacement and forced migration have emerged as critical, global human security issues. This is already happening in our region, both within and between countries. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) draws attention to the issue and examines relevant global frameworks that accept the reality that migration increases as the impacts of climate change, environmental degradation and disasters pile up. As 2 SIDS we can “no longer accept or be satisfied with urging national disaster adaptation alone. Climate change is a matter of national security and stability for SIDS. It is a matter of our survival”.
The future looks bleak for low lying island states and coastal areas. Their human security is threatened by rising sea levels, which will force mass relocation of communities. These adverse impacts of rising sea levels include salinization, which threatens crops, livelihoods, and coastal erosion, resulting from more destructive storm surges and natural disasters.
In the Pacific, we aim to ensure that our maritime zones and the entitlements flowing from those maritime zones are not challenged or reduced as a result of sea-level rise. We contend that the response of international law to sea-level rise must take into account the interests of those who are particularly affected, including small island developing states with the least responsibility for its causes. In this regard we look towards the work of the International Law Commission on sea-level rise in relation to international law.
Communities that are facing tensions caused by; poverty, discrimination, inequality, resource constraints, and adverse environmental effects are more vulnerable to the impact of climate change. They face an increased risk of instability from climate change. For those at the edge, it hastens conflicts. For those already in conflict, it intensifies it.
As PSIDS, we want to highlight the following;
- Climate change remains a ‘clear, highly serious present danger’ to our communities. It requires a tailored approach but rests with a global solution.
- Global leadership, real commitment, and ambition are needed if we are to survive as SIDS. Science has given us the signs, what more is needed? Global decay? Action is urgent. A successful outcome of the COP26, is crucial for the fight against climate change.
- The re-prioritization of the effect of climate on security within the UN system is absolute. The system must change to accommodate the real threats we face today and into the future. The impact of climate change cuts across all areas of the UN system from development, security to human rights. There needs to be a collective recognition of the nexus between climate change, peace and security. A collective recognition will ensure that the comprehensive policies are established, there is synergy within the UN system, and the appropriate resources allocated to build awareness capacity and measures.
- Early interventions to build capacity and resilience against the effect of climate change on the most vulnerable communities, are needed. The Peace Building Commission plays a crucial role in prevention and early interventions around the world. A recently funded climate and security program in the Pacific established by the Peace Building Fund needs predictable and sustained funding to expand and effectively carryout its increasingly climate and security role.
Climate change has a major impact on security, and it is time that we all recognise and acknowledge that our collective efforts are needed to combat the impact of this climate emergency.
The UN Charter, which the Security Council draws its mandate from, requires under Article1.1. for the Security Council to take effective collective measures for the prevention and and removal of threats to the peace in 3 conformity with the principles of justice and international law. For PSIDS, our national and collective peace and security is now at the mercy of the ravaging march of climate change.
Just as we responded to COVID-19 because it threatens our own individual health, therefore encroaching on our own personal space, Climate Change should be treated the same because that is how we view it from a SIDS lense. We see it, live it and breath it every day! The climate crisis is the ultimate test of the international communities’ solidarity and responsibility to act and protect those most vulnerable so that we are not forgotten or left behind. We reiterate our call for regular reporting by the Secretary General to the Council and for the appointment of a Special Representative on Climate and Security.
I, thank you.