Switzerland wishes to thank Germany for organising this debate and the participants for their contributions. The impacts of climate change on the global environment, economy and society are profound and exacerbate already existing vulnerabilities and inequalities. When combined with existing conflict drivers such as political and economic instability, climate change is a risk multiplier, making conflicts more likely, more intense and longer-lasting.
Switzerland aims to limit the security implications of climate change, for instance through our Blue Peace Initiative launched in 2010, which supports both cross-border cooperation to promote dialogue on water access. We are Co-Chair of the Nansen initiative and support the Platform on Disaster Displacement. When disasters or climate change effects lead to forced displacement, they can act as a driver of social tensions and conflict.
We recognize the urgency to take proactive steps to limit the impacts of climate change on human security. The Council recognizes adverse effects of climate change on international peace and security, starting with resolution 2349 (2017). We welcome that the Council has made progress in recent years in integrating language on climate-related security risks into its outcomes, and that the need for improved assessment of climate-related security risks has been noted in contexts such as Somalia, Mali, West Africa, the Sahel, and Darfur.
Switzerland wishes to underline three areas of action, for the Security Council to contribute to mitigate climate and security risks:
First, as the interdependent nature of the 2030 Agenda shows, climate action cuts across multiple agendas and UN bodies. The Security Council has recognized the link between peace and security and sustainable development, and must now also fully address the peace and security implications of climate change. The Council should include a gender-responsive approach and acknowledge the innovative role that youth has to play. Switzerland appreciates the continued engagement of a majority of Security Council members as well as of the Group of Friends on Climate and Security. We support its joint position and the call for a region-specific and forward-looking report of the UN Secretary-General on climate-related security risks. Regular reporting, using existing structures within the UN, is crucial to address such risks efficiently.
Second, the Security Council should systematically integrate climate-related security risks to regional or country situations on its agenda. It should take full advantage of the information and resources available within the UN system. This requires early warning systems to systematically identify situations where climate change acts as a risk multiplier in order to develop adequate responses. Climate data collections, climate scenarios and early warning systems are already successfully applied. It is vital to exchange this knowledge and use synergies within the UN, including the Security Council. Improved coordination among the entire UN system should enable an appropriate response to these challenges.
Third, the COVID-19 pandemic intensifies the climate crisis, deepens social inequalities and poses a risk to peace and security. It increases vulnerability for populations living in regions affected by conflict, fragility and climate change. The combined impact of climate change, COVID-19 and conflict result in millions of people in need of humanitarian assistance. Women, children, elderly, people with disabilities and displaced populations are particularly at risk. COVID-19 must not be used to allow setbacks in climate protection and the implementation of the Paris Agreement must remain a priority.
There is an increasing need to address climate change, fragility and conflict risks together. Climate change needs to be taken into account systematically and in an integrated manner to prevent conflicts and strengthen resilience and adaptation measures. Climate and development policies have to become more conflict sensitive and security policy more climate sensitive.