Security Council Debate: Addressing the impacts of climate-related disasters on international peace and security

Statement by H.E. Lise Gregoire-van Haaren,
Deputy Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations

New York, 25 January 2019

Image: ©UN Photo/Loey Felipe

Señor Presidente,

Muchas felicidades to you and the people of the Dominican Republic on your elected membership of the Security Council. With your membership on this Council, the Dominican Republic has an opportunity to represent the voice of all SIDS.

A voice that we amplified throughout our membership of this Council, as a Kingdom consisting of four autonomous countries of which Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten are SIDS.

Unfortunately, the Prime Minister of Sint Maarten, who wanted to be present at today’s debate had to cancel her trip at the last minute due to other pressing engagements.

Mr. President, by organizing today’s debate on the impacts of climate-related disasters on international peace and security, the Dominican Republic asks Member States to address an issue that the Secretary-General deemed as the “defining issue of our time: climate change.” As the countries in our Kingdom are some of your closest neighbors, we welcome this focus.

The Caribbean is a region that is especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change. As you know, Sint Maarten was among the islands most heavily affected by Hurricane Irma in September 2017. The strongest Atlantic hurricane on record, it left 70% of its houses severely damaged, forcing an unprecedented number of people into public shelters. Today still, St. Maarteners, and other Caribbean citizens, are confronted with its aftermath.

Mr. President, the link between climate change and security is clear and undeniable. Increased risks of climate disasters mean increased threats to human security and exacerbated vulnerabilities. Today’s briefers demonstrated this by emphasizing that climate-related disasters, such as hurricanes, severely impact socio-economic development and cause environmental degradation.

Mr President, in this context, let me draw your attention to the ‘3P- approach’: if we are to Prevent, we need to Predict and Prepare. If we could predict the security implications of natural disasters, we would be one step closer to addressing these risks. It is for this reason that the Kingdom of the Netherlands repeatedly calls for integrated risk assessment and analysis, and strengthening of institutional capacity for this.

Integrated risk assessments should include all threat multipliers, including water stress and climate change. During an Arria formula meeting on Water, Peace and Security, which we co-hosted with the Dominican Republic among others, the World Resources Institute presented an early warning tool to enhance this risk assessment. Tools like these can help governments and the UN system enhance risk assessment and analysis.

We welcome the progress the Council made to this effect, and encourage the Council to expand this to relevant country situations and mission contexts.

Mr. President, sound risk assessments would enable us to develop joint risk management strategies – in other words: prepare. The UN system and Member States need to be better prepared: not just to identify risks, but also to strengthen operations and develop programs accordingly. For this, it is crucial that mandates reflect the necessity for integrated risk assessment and missions and UN entities are given the institutional capacity and means to do so.

The UN should respond coherently across its pillars in order to address climate- and water-related security risks in a timely manner. Also outside of the UN, we need to do more to share knowledge and best practices and explore actionable responses.

To this end, on December 13, 2018, the Kingdom of the Netherlands together with the Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development of SIDS and CARICOM’s Caribbean Disaster Emergence Management Agency organized a Caribbean conference on Planetary Security. 

Its outcomes will contribute to the Planetary Security Conference in The Hague on the 19th and 20th of February. We hope to see many of you there.


Mr President, to conclude. If we predict better through early warning and prepare better through early action, we can prevent conflict. The SDGs are the ultimate prevention agenda, in which addressing climate change – SDG13 – is embedded. Its security implications are as pertinent as its rising sea levels, environmental degradation and growing number of climate-related disasters, affecting human security. St. Maarteners remember all too vividly what this could lead to.

We therefore welcome the Secretary-General’s Climate Summit this September. The Summit is an opportunity to address all aspects of climate change including addressing the adverse effects of climate change on international peace and security, and building resilient societies through adaptation.

Mr. President, as the Secretary-General said, climate change is the biggest threat that our generation faces. We urge this Council to assign this issue the priority it deserves, by calling for integrated risk assessments and encouraging climate- and conflict-sensitive programming.

I thank you.