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Security Council – Meeting in Arria-formula

Statement delivered by the Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, at the Security Council meeting in Arria-formula on “Preparing for security implications of rising temperatures” —

Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and gentlemen,

First of all, on behalf of all the co-sponsors – France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Maldives, Morocco, the Netherlands, Peru, Sweden and the United Kingdom, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, Halbe Zijlstra, and the Co-Founder & President of the Centre for Climate and Security, Caitlin Werrell.

I also welcome the minister of Foreign affairs of Sweden . Ms Margot Wallstrom and Minister Mark Field MP, Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific of the United Kingdom.

In 2017, a number of extreme events related to rising temperatures and depletion of natural resources, triggered by rising temperatures and climate change, have threatened the security of millions of people, from the devastating and deadly hurricanes to the deathly famines. Rising sea levels are posing a direct threat to islands and their populations.

Climate-related disasters have increased in number and magnitude. Over the past decade, more than 700,000 people lost their lives, over 1.4 million were injured, and approximately 23 million are homeless as a result of natural disasters.

From temperature soaring in the Artic to extreme drought in the Mediterranean, we see the impact of rising temperatures in every country disrupting economies and depriving the livelihoods of billions as well as shape mass human mobility, with the latest data from UNHCR that report a record of 65.6 million displaced in 2016, part of which related to climate, and a forecast of 200 million people potentially moving by 2050.

Droughts, floods or water scarcity can generate humanitarian crises, social unrest and conflict fore resources. Such instances have become increasingly common and more devastating, sometimes even resulting in the reversal of development gains even in countries with significant levels of socio-economic progress. And as the effects of climate change become more severe, they become a multiplier of various crises.

Yet, when the United Nations were founded, it was too soon to realize that environmental degradation also could act a socio-economic stress factor, likely to hamper development and growth and induce conflict in fragile contexts. This lack of awareness has been gradually overcome and the UN, still in pursuit of its primary goal to build and protect peace, have concentrated more and more energies to the environment. We need to recognize within the UN the tools devoted to governing feedback loops among peace, development, human dignity and the environment: no silos structures can work.

In 2007, with the initiative of the UK, the Security Council held a ministerial-level open debate focusing on the relationship between energy, security and climate; since then climate-induced security threats have become more pressing and there is an urgent need to take into account climate change as an agent of security threats, in line with the updated vision of security.

Last March, following its mission on the ground, the Security Council adopted resolution 2349, recognizing the adverse effects of climate change on stability in the Lake Chad region. The need for adequate risk assessments and risk management strategies stands high in a growing demand for early warning mechanisms addressing climate related security risks.

The United Nations System at large needs to become more consistent and effective in the assessment of new security risks generated by climate change. Failing to address these unconventional threats, means failing to protect people livelihood and global security.

An institutional home for climate change and security within the UN system could provide the needed locus for leadership, cooperation and joint action.

Science continues to warn us. It is time to seize the opportunity to inform our action with appropriate scientific knowledge and to find the appropriate instruments to address the challenge.

From this considerations I would like to open the discussion.