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20 July 2011 - Security Council - Maintenance of international peace and security: Impact of climate change - Statement by Mr Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

UN translation

France associates itself with the statement to be delivered on behalf of the European Union.

Since the last debate in the Council on climate change was in 2007 (see S/PV.5663), science has progressed, the facts have been confirmed and the risks have been further analysed, as Mr. Steiner set out in his statement. I therefore pay tribute to the German presidency of the Security Council for the initiative to hold a debate on the impact of climate change on international peace and security.

The climate threat concerns us all. It is, in particular, a threat for our small island Pacific State partners, whose very existence is in peril, as is the survival of their territory, culture and identity. The President of the Republic of Nauru, Mr. Marcus Stephen, whose presence I welcome in the Council today, is better placed than I to speak about the immense challenges affecting the islands of his region. I regret enormously that we cannot respond to his appeal.

In addition, agricultural productivity is under threat. My country has made food security a priority of its presidency of the Group of 20. How can we maintain international peace and security if a situation of chronic food shortages sets in? It is also a threat in terms of water resources in regions where these are rare, and generates tension. How can we ensure appropriate management if they become yet scarcer?

It is also a menace for the viability of coastal regions, where more than one third of the world population lives.

The facts are clear: climate change has an immense destabilizing potential and could multiply the threats to peace and security in the most fragile regions and States.

The international community is mobilizing to tackle the various challenges posed by climate change. There is still time to avoid its worst effects, but we must act fast. There is only one way to do this, namely, international cooperation. We must begin a new stage in formulating an ambitious multilateral response at the Durban Conference. We must give operational impetus to the agreements negotiated at Cancùn We must also safeguard the Kyoto Protocol and move towards a broader legal instrument.

We must also work to respond to sector-specific threats and promote partnerships. This is the objective of the World Water Forum, to be held in Marseille in March 2012. Access to clean energy for all is another major priority, because development is itself a way of responding to climate change and can contribute to preventing and reducing conflicts. It is in this context that France and Kenya together launched the Paris- Nairobi Initiative last April.

Lastly, we must reinvigorate global partnerships for sustainable development and adopt, in Rio in June 2012, an ambitious road map for a global transition towards a green economy supported by solid, financially strong and effective institutions.

The international community has seen the diversity of risks related to climate change and is taking measures in various forums. In this context, the implications of climate change for maintaining international peace and security should be taken into account. In conformity with its mandate, the Security Council must therefore assume its responsibilities.

The Council is not infringing on the competence of other United Nations bodies and does not want to replace other forums, in particular that under the Convention on Climate Change. The Council today is simply facing up to a new type of threats that are multiform, complex and diffuse. In that spirit we are exploring today the implications of these threats and the Council’s capacity to deal with them. Thus last February the Security Council, under the presidency of Brazil, held a useful debate on peace, security and development (see S/PV.6479). It is in the same spirit that today the Council is considering climate change — while strictly respecting its mandate and the Charter — in particular in the area of preventing conflicts.

My delegation therefore regrets that the Security Council is not responding in the same way as it did in the debate on security and development. Despite the efforts by the presidency, the Council is not ready to make a collective statement today on the implications of climate change for the maintenance of international peace and security. To oppose with bureaucratic concerns the anguished appeals by our partners threatened by climate change does not rise to the issues at stake. It is not dignified.

Nevertheless, we are faced with reality. The need will remain for the Security Council to endeavour to analyze the threats and to better know the causes of conflict on which climate change will have the most immediate effects. The Council must also take account of the impact of its own decisions. For example, it must, as of today, take measures to ensure that peacekeeping operations reduce their carbon emissions and their impact on the environment. I therefore welcome the fact that the Secretariat has already taken measures in that regard.

Today’s debate is just a first stage. It must be for all of us in the United Nations a call for action. The climate threat means that we must mobilize ourselves: first in the short term, to ensure the success of the Climate Conference in Durban and the Climate Change Conference in Rio; in the medium term, to prevent conflicts that could emerge; and in the long term to save the planet. My delegation is convinced that the Security Council must come back to this and in the future must express itself in a single voice. This is not over-ambitious; it is just taking account of the sad realities that we face.



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