Statement delivered by Italy at the Security Council Open Debate in VTC on “Climate and Security”. —
Italy aligns itself with the statement submitted by the European Union, as well as with the statement of the Group of Friends on “Climate and Security”, and would like to add the following remarks in its national capacity.
Today’s discussion follows a series of meetings of various nature (open debates, open briefings, Arria Formula meetings) organized by Security Council members, since 2007, on the increasing interrelation between climate and security. Italy did its part in 2017, by organizing an Arria Formula meeting on preparing for security implications of rising temperatures, and we very much appreciate that, almost nine years after the milestone Presidential Statement of 2011, Germany is carrying on the discussion with today’s Open Debate on “Climate and Security” as well as constantly spearheading the discussion within the Group of Friends on “Climate and Security”, co-Chaired with Nauru. We also commend the other co-sponsors for having been proactive, over these years, in bringing these topics to the attention of the Council and we hope that also future Council members will take the baton. Continuity is indeed key.
The latest World Meteorological Organization Report predicts that there is a is a 70% chance that multiple months in the coming five years will be 1.5°C warmer than pre-industrial levels and a 20% chance that in entire years global temperature increase will exceed 1.5°C. On the current path, the world is clearly not on track to limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C, as outlined in the Paris Agreement. Although the Report does not explicitly focus on security impacts of climate change, it clearly underscores that a warming world will increase the risk of state fragility and instability. Climate-related risks to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security, and economic growth are projected to dramatically increase with global warming above 1.5°C.
The climate-related multidimensional challenges are exponentially more difficult in particular areas of the world. Africa is responsible for a just 4% of global carbon emissions. Yet, 57 % of the countries facing climate exposure and political fragility risks are located in sub-Saharan Africa. The Sahel and the Lake Chad basin are a glaring example of how the climate change impacts on security. The shrinking of the Lake by 90% since 1960s has increased the competition for water and scarce resources, fuelling mass migration, trafficking and terrorism, with a multiplying effect that risk destabilizing the Sub-Saharan and Mediterranean region. The Small Islands Developing States also face the brunt of catastrophic events related to climate change. Climate hazards such as tropical storms and hurricanes, sea level rise and ocean acidification are risks that when superimposed on existing economic and security vulnerabilities can lead to crises well beyond the capacities of governments to manage.
Climate change did not pause because of Covid-19. Instead, while there are no known direct links between climate change and COVID-19, we will likely see an increase in the spread of vector-borne diseases as climate change intensifies. As temperatures increase these species will be able to survive in countries and regions in which they previously could not. Climate-related threats accrue also direct health related threats to humans. And epidemics and pandemics are a trigger for increased instability.
In light of this scenario, the underlying point in our discussion is the need for intensifying and accelerating the international action against climate change. Climate mitigation, adaptation and resilience effortsare increasingly urgent to avert the significant security consequences of climate change. Responding to the pressing calls of the Secretary-General, we should double our efforts in ensuring a prompt and effective implementation of the Paris Agreement, by re-launching the political momentum as we mark its fifth Anniversary, and by effectively promoting ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions and enhanced commitments in terms of climate finance on the road to the Pre-CoP in Milan -from 30thSeptember to 2nd October 2021 – and a successful CoP26 in Glasgow in November 2021. Regional security conferences that will take place before Glasgow, and which will explore climate and security dimensions, could play an important role in putting into focus this relevant issue of climate and security. A greater involvement of foreign and defense Ministers in the overall climate action could also more beneficially and specifically address the interrelations between climate and security. Italywill aim at enhancing the synergies among the different multilateral fora and processes, leveraging its role as incoming Presidency of the G20.
Though fragile regions face the most severe consequences in the short term, the security risks related to climate change are global and interconnected. Nobody gets to hide to weather this storm.
On the United Nations 75th Anniversary, many modern security challenges do not fit neatly into the original constructs of the international security and governance architecture that was born of the post-World War II period. Environmental degradation – and, most prominently, climate change – defy national borders. Thus, the world must plan for concerted, coordinated action to predict, prevent and prepare against these foreseeable cross-border threats.
Predicting requires the technical capacity to anticipate the most serious impact of climate change, through authoritative information, relevant science and technology. In this regard, much progress has been made over the years, notably through the deployment of satellite technology to better monitor weather changes, rainfall patterns, soil moisture, humidity, glacier-mass balance and river flows, thus enabling a precise assessment. The WMO report, for example, is based on the data collected through the Copernicus Climate Change Service managed by the EU. Another example is the Galileo Program, a global navigation system created by the EU, to which Italy actively contributes and which has ground operation centers in Italy and Germany.
Preventing means being pro-active in de-activating climate-related threats; in other words, passing from risk identification and risk assessment to action. The Climate Security Mechanism launched by the DPPA, with UNDP and UNEP, is a very timely and effective means to incorporate in a systematic way the analysis of climate related security risks and promoting a support response. But, still preventing is by far the most difficult part, as it requires the capacity and willingness to invest resources in a long-term perspective, and with a gender perspective, addressing the root causes of conflict and effectively using the tools of preventive diplomacy and enhancing or repurposing development assistance to “climate-proof” vulnerable areas that are likely hotspots of instability. A much harder task, as the world is concentrated, full speed, on the Covid-19 emergency response and socio-economic recovery.
Preparing also means using the available information to strengthen risk analysis and risk assessment. It implies incorporating risk assessment of climate-related threats into strategic level policy decisions – at multilateral, regional and national level – mapping the areas where risks are higher and trying to routinize, institutionalize, integrate and elevate the response. Our Arria formula meeting in 2017 was mostly dedicated to this dimension. We were also particularly active on these aspects in the course of our 2017 G7 Presidency, when we presided over the G7 Working Group on climate and Fragility.
As we have touched first handedly with the Covid-19 crisis, global shocks come abrupt. With climate change, we have a clear scientific warning that a potential global shock could have consequences far more devastating than the Covid-19 pandemic. We are in a condition, therefore, to predict, prevent and prepare.