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Security Council – Meeting in Arria Formula

Statement delivered by Ambassador Stefano Stefanile, Deputy Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, at the Security Council meeting in Arria Formula on “Sea-level rise and implications for international peace and security” —

Mr. President,

Italy welcomes this debate. We are thankful to Viet Nam and the other co-sponsoring States for taking the initiative and to the briefers for their presentations.

We also subscribe to the statement that will be delivered later by the European Union.

As highlighted by many speakers today, the increasing occurrence of extreme weather events and natural disasters, as well as the converging data provided by the scientific community, clearly confirm that climate change is already affecting every part of the world with dramatic consequences on the livelihood and security of hundreds of millions of people.

Coastal communities are already experiencing damages to their infrastructures and losses for their industries and services. Poverty, displacement and migration are already a reality in many climate-vulnerable countries, particularly Small Islands Developing States.

Rising sea levels do not manifest themselves as abruptly as a hurricane or a flood, but they too are a direct effect of climate change and their consequences, over a longer timeframe, can be even more catastrophic.

We were reminded today that, according to the latest scientific reports, sea-level rise is indeed accelerating. The charts that were presented to us clearly projected the potential, dramatic magnitude of this rise by the end of the current century. This scenario, far from being theoretical, would bring destruction to entire ecosystems and would result in the disappearance of a great number of small islands and coastal areas across the world. This would put at risk the very survival of some Small Island States and would have, for other countries, a dramatic impact on their territory, triggering massive human flows.

In light of the above, there can be no doubt that rising sea levels constitutes a risk also for international peace and security.

Therefore, we deem it important that the issue of sea level rise, and the overall security implications of climate change, be taken into due consideration by the Security Council in the context of its analysis and deliberations, especially with regard to the dimension of regional stability. This would not alter the core mandate of the Council, nor would it infringe on the competences of the General Assembly or the ECOSOC. It would rather allow the Council to better anticipate serious security risks, to have a better understanding of the root causes of conflicts and instability, and to device more effective approaches to preserve peace and international security. To this end, we are in favor of all the practical proposals that have been recalled by likeminded countries in previous interventions.

From a legal perspective, we believe that the issue of sea level rise requires a rules-based approach. In this respect, we welcome the contribution of the International Law Commission on sea-level rise and statehood and on sea-level rise and the protection of persons.

The most effective way to address the sea-level rise and its disastrous effects is, however, to accelerate and drastically elevate the ambition of international climate action on all fronts: mitigation, adaptation and finance. Italy is strongly engaged in these efforts, this year also through its Presidency of the G20 and its partnership with the United Kingdom for CoP26. We are also among the most active supporters of Small Island Developing States, having developed specific partnerships in the field of sustainable development with the Pacific SIDS and the CARICOM Countries.

In concluding, it is our sincere hope that this Arria meeting will contribute to deepening the awareness of the security-climate nexus, thus reinforcing our common determination to fight the existential threat of climate change and its devastating consequences.

I thank you.