The peace and security risks of climate change were discussed Tuesday at the Security Council. The UK Presidency wanted this debate to be open to countries that are not members of the Security Council. They were able to participate by video message for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic. This format allowed Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis to express Switzerland's position on this issue.
The head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) called on the Security Council to strengthen its commitment in three areas:
- Conflict prevention, in particular through the implementation of the Paris Agreement, must be strengthened, said the Swiss Foreign Minister, who considered that carbon neutrality, the objective that Switzerland aims to attain by 2050, should be achieved.
- As Chair of the Group of Friends of the Protection of Civilians, Switzerland also calls on the Council and the Member States to strengthen the protection of civilians in armed conflicts, including from climate risks. Together with its partners, Switzerland published on 19 February in New York the results of a digital project to visualize the links between climate change and conflict situations in West Africa (see more details below).
- Finally, the head of the FDFA stressed the importance of integrating the recommendations of other UN bodies, relevant actors and civil society. The Peacebuilding Commission has an important advisory role to play here. Switzerland is proud to promote dialogue between actors, including in Geneva. In this context, Ignazio Cassis mentioned Geneva Peace Week. Switzerland, concluded the Foreign Minister, is committed to all three of these areas and will continue to engage as a member of the Security Council, for which our country is a candidate for the first time.
One week before the Security Council debate, Switzerland, with the support of Germany, Niger, the ICRC and the NGO and think tank Instituto Igarapé presented a study showing the consequences of global warming on West African countries (West Africa at the precipice : visualizing climate stress and insecurity).
The study finds that the decade between 2010 and 2019 was the warmest ever recorded and that this rise in temperature has had consequences on global warming, food security, access to water and competition over resources. The most fragile countries and households, particularly in West Africa, are the most affected.
Climate change is reflected in the rising water level, which threatens coastal populations. According to demographers, between 70 and 95 million people will live in West African coastal cities in 2050. And specialists believe that the coastal regions will be severely affected over some 5500 km.
Climate change will affect food security. Far fewer fish will be caught and fishermen will be tempted to expand their fishing grounds. Fishermen, for example, are now forced to cross borders to go fishing, leading to violent clashes with Coast Guards.
Global warming is also accelerating migration flows. Currently, some 20 million pastoralists in the Sahel region are moving with their herds to escape the rigors of drought. These phenomena also generate conflicts between nomadic herders and farmers.