Statement at Arria formula meeting on Climate and Security

Statement by H.E. Halbe Zijlstra,
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

New York, 15 December 2017

Thank you Sebastiano. I would like to thank my Italian counterpart for working closely together last year and look forward to continuing to work together next year.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Three days ago, the One Planet Summit took place in Paris, marking the second anniversary of the Paris Climate Agreement. Two days ago, the third Planetary Security Conference was held in The Hague. Today in New York, the members of the Security Council are gathered, Arria-style, to discuss climate and security. That is three meetings on climate change in a single week!

Two of them focused on the nexus between climate and security. That is a clear sign of more awareness and urgency. Made possible by committed academics, determined campaigners and far-sighted politicians. Thanks to them, climate change and its impact are now high on our international agenda – and right where they should be.

Our foresight has never been greater. The planet is sending us a clear message. A message that scientists understand better than ever. There is now a broad scientific consensus. And we need to act on it. Indeed, we have a responsibility to act. Because the trends are alarming. Climate change affects everyone on this planet. It affects all countries, large or small – like the Small Island Developing States. It affects the environment, the economy, geopolitics, migration and also security.

We’ve already seen examples of this in the UN Security Council agenda. Like the resolution on Lake Chad, earlier this year. In large parts of the Sahel, we see how the combined effects of climate change are pushing people and countries beyond tipping point. Where domestic and international security can no longer be guaranteed.

Climate issues are wide-ranging, and do not respect borders. No government can tackle them alone. We need to work together at all levels. It’s like playing lots of games of chess at once. From the national to the international. From mitigation to adaptation. And each player has their own responsibility to act. The Paris Climate Agreement is one chessboard. And we need to implement it fully.

The Hague Planetary Security Conference is another. The Netherlands organised it, because we wanted to help build a broad ’community of practice’. To find concrete solutions for climate and security issues. In the past three years, a good foundation has been laid. The broadly endorsed ’Hague Declaration’ is proof of that. It offers a programme of concrete actions on climate and security. Like the creation of an institutional home for climate security, and the promotion of urban resilience. And concrete support to struggling countries and regions.

Like Mali, Iraq and Lake Chad Region. All three frequent subjects on this Councils agenda. Where the international community is making substantial investments in peace. But without effectively addressing the climate and security related aspects, this investment may not pay off the way we intend it to be.

In Mali, for example. Droughts and desertification make peace and development hard to attain. Thanks to the efforts of the Planetary Security Conference, the parties will work to integrate natural resource management into their national security strategies and migration policies.

And this, Mr President, brings me to the third chessboard: the United Nations Security Council. This forum cannot ignore climate issues either. Because the effects of climate change can stand in the way of consolidating peace. Climate change can be the driver of conflict. Climate change can be an early warning signal that security may be under threat. If the Security Council takes its prevention task seriously, it needs to always include the effects of climate change in its analyses.

So we support proposals to anchor a focus on climate and security within the United Nations. This nexus deserves an institutional home. So that expertise and research findings can be systematically fed into the Security Council. That way, the analysis of the effects of climate change can serve as a prevention tool.

This fits seamlessly into the ‘Prevention Up Front’ approach that we support. This is what we will press for when we take up our seat on the Security Council in 2018.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands therefore thanks you, Mr. President for convening this arria meeting because the subject of climate change cannot be overestimated.