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Threats to International Peace and Security: Sea Level Rise implications for International Peace and Security

Sea Level Rise


Threats to International Peace and Security:
Sea Level Rise implications for International Peace and Security

14 February 2023

Statement delivered by the Permanent Representative of Italy, Ambassador Maurizio Massari


Mr President,

I would like to thank Malta for convening this debate and the Secretary-General, the President of the General Assembly, Minister Aurescu and Director Pasisi for their interventions. Italy aligns with the statement to be delivered by the European Union and with that to be delivered by Nauru, on behalf of the Group of Friends on Climate and Security.


Mr President,

Today’s debate gives us the opportunity to point out why sea level rise represents a threat to international peace and security, enabling us to define a common strategy for this specific aspect of the climate-security nexus.

We need to raise awareness on the existential threat posed by sea level rise, which can lead to permanent submergence of land and the disappearance of entire coastal areas across the world. Extreme sea levels are also causing more frequent flooding, loss of ecosystems and salinization of soils.

As a direct consequence, the very survival of many Small Island Developing States is at risk, while other climate-vulnerable countries are experiencing damages to their infrastructures and losses for their industries. Poverty, food insecurity, resource scarcity, displacement and migration are also linked to sea level rise in many coastal areas.

These factors combined are key drivers of conflict and a threat multiplier, endangering peace and security not only in the most affected States, but also at the regional and global levels.

We therefore believe that every organ of the United Nations, through coordinated multilateral action, should address the adverse implications of climate change. This would benefit both Member States and regional organizations in stepping up climate action in order to fulfil international commitments.

By the same token, the Security Council should tackle ensuing security implications, such as those caused by sea level rise.

Mitigation and adaptation should be further integrated into the formulation of mandates for UN peacekeeping missions. Italy, as the co-chair of the Group of Friends on Leading on Environmental Management in the Field, together with Bangladesh, is engaged in shaping solutions that can allow peace operations to perform in a sustainable way.

Financial support is also critical. In this regard, we welcome the investments of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Peacebuilding Fund in support of building and sustaining peace in relation to climate change effects.

We should also continue to address the legal implications of the rise in sea level. Italy commends the study group of the International Law Commission for its work, while recalling the centrality of the legal framework enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

In concluding, it is our hope that the Security Council will continue to address the threats posed by sea level rise.

I thank you.