Switzerland would like to thank Ireland for organizing this debate and the speakers for their contributions.
“Humanity faces a stark and urgent choice: breakdown or breakthrough.” The Secretary General recalled this in his presentation of Our Common Agenda. He stressed once again the serious instability and climate chaos that threaten us. The consequences of climate change on international peace and security are profound.
As an active member of the Group of Friends on Climate and Security, Switzerland would like to highlight three areas of action that require increased engagement by the Security Council:
First, climate risks should be integrated adequately and more systematically into the mandates of UN peace operations. The Council recently recognized the negative effects of climate change on peace and security in West Africa and the Sahel. In future mandate renewals – such as the UN Office in Haiti or the Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic – we call on the Council to mandate peace missions to analyze and report on climate risks in their areas of deployment, measures already taken and possible improvements. These risks should also be considered in the context of transitions and withdrawals of operations. In order to support these efforts, Switzerland would welcome a climate risk priority window within the Peacebuilding Fund.
Second, climate change is a risk factor for conflicts today and will be even more acute in the future. The UN Charter confers on the Security Council the task of addressing risks and threats to international peace and security. In carrying out its mandate, the Council should capitalize on resources available within the UN system. Data collection, climate scenarios and early warning systems are already successfully being used. It is important to share this knowledge and promote synergies. The Council could benefit more from the advisory role of the Peacebuilding Commission. Collaboration with the academic world and civil society is also key. Together with various partners, including members of the Security Council, Switzerland has promoted digital technology to visualize the links between climate change and situations of violence in West Africa. A similar analysis for East Africa will be presented soon. For all situations on its agenda, the Council should base its action on scientific data. This project highlighted also the importance of partnerships with regional organizations and of local expertise.
Third, the common challenge also offers opportunities. The Blue Peace initiative launched by Switzerland is an example to illustrate how joint management of shared water resources reduces tensions and contributes to stabilize relations between different states or stakeholders. Several programs have been implemented in the Middle East, Central Asia and West Africa. The link between climate risks and security as well as conflict prevention through cooperation are also the focus of a training course offered by the Geneva Center for Security Policy, supported by Switzerland, for public and private sector actors. The Security Council’s support for preventive diplomacy, through special political missions, is inspired by the same approach and has great potential for development.
Prevention includes climate action. The COP-26 in Glasgow pushes us to accelerate our joint efforts towards the goals of the Paris Agreement. Limiting global warming to 1.5°C must be our priority. As a candidate for the Security Council, Switzerland will remain committed to mitigate the consequences of climate change on peace and security.