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Linkages between Climate Change and Challenges to Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace

Thursday, 23 April 2020

Thematic Consultation organized by the German and French Missions to the UN On the 2020 Review of the Peacebuilding Architecture 

“Linkages between Climate Change and Challenges to Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace” 


Thank you, Co-Chairs. 

Excellencies and colleagues, I would like to begin by thanking the Co-Hosts, Germany and France, for the commendable leadership by convening this important thematic consultation to discuss the issue of the linkages between climate change and peace and security.   

For our region, our Pacific Islands Forum Leaders adopted the Boe Declaration in September 2018.  The declaration reaffirms that climate change remains the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific.  The declaration also recognizes an expanded concept of security that climate change poses complex multidimensional challenges to human security, humanitarian assistance and environmental security.   

The Declaration noted our extreme vulnerability to climate change but also identifies the very fact that in the pacific we are now already living the future of the severe impacts of climate change.   

Climate change does not only compromise our food and water supplies, it is a cross-cutting challenge that affects all our factors and sectors of production.   So, it directly constraints our achievement of sustainable development.   Development progress, if any, under such context will be marred by severe inequality and with that, tensions and potential conflicts.   

An effective peacebuilding architecture should be responsive to the fact that climate change is not a marginal issue in sustainable development policies, but that it is at the core of the systems of synergies and trade-offs that made up sustainable development and therefore peace and security. 

In this regard, I am pleased that the UN Peacebuilding Fund is engaged in our region, focusing on supporting the national peacebuilding priorities in our region.  A project on climate and security is set to start in May next month in the three atoll nations of the Marshall Islands, Kiribati and Tuvalu.  The project will support our national capacity to assess and respond to climate security risk as well as to better engage on these issues in the regional and global fora.  The project recognized the severe impacts of sea level rise on atoll nations that are on average 3-5 meters above sea level. 

This engagement with the pacific region demonstrated that the Peacebuilding Commission offers a unique platform to sustain international attention and provide political awareness and understanding by bringing together national actors, UN agencies, regional and sub-regional organizations, civil society and international financial institutions in support of nationally-led peacebuilding priorities, with a view to develop and share good practices and identify remaining challenges with regard to climate change and peace and security.  These types of joint engagements and collaborations should be encouraged to garner the necessary political and financial support that is critical for successful interventions in the climate and security nexus.   

Financing peacebuilding interventions will always be a challenge and we think that improving dialogues among political parties and civil society on country owned peace priorities ensures impactful interventions from the limited financial resources that are made available. 

In reacting to the climate crisis, the peacebuilding architecture needs to track and receive clear analysis of the ongoing security implications of climate-induced disasters; the UN needs to focus attention to climate-security issues through its representatives on the ground; the system of peacebuilding architecture also needs to assist individual vulnerable countries like us to develop preventative interventions from falling into prolonged cycles of instability. 

Furthermore, we would like to highlight the need for proper assessment and analysis. An assessment is needed on the capacity of the peacebuilding architecture to respond to climate change implications on sustainable peace.  We need more information on the potentially dangerous points at the nexus of climate, and peace and security.  We need assessments on ways in which we can improve our monitoring and response to climate change. We need climate-related peace and security risk analysis and information so that the peacebuilding architecture and vulnerable countries like Tuvalu can be better equipped to make better-informed decisions.  

In this regard, Co-Chairs, 

In the Pacific context, the peacebuilding architecture should at least serve the following functions: 

  • Keeping the UN system and member States well-informed about emerging climate risks that threaten international peace and security.
  • Facilitating greater regional and cross-border cooperation on issues that might be affected by climate change.
  • Monitoring potential tipping points at the climate and security nexus.
  • Engaging in preventive diplomacy, as appropriate, and supporting conflict-affected situations when climate change is a risk factor that could undermine the stability of peace. 

Again, Climate change is the greatest development challenge for atoll nations in our pacific region and will be for other regions in the future if it is allowed on its current global trend.   Successful and sustainable peacebuilding interventions will be those that are able to assist us achieve sustainable development.  And for our region, sustainable development is impossible without addressing climate change security issues.   

I thank you very much. 

H.E. Samuelu Laloniu, Permanent Representative of Tuvalu to the United Nations, 23rd of April 2020.