Security Council must investigate any threat to peace, including environmental challenges

Today, Slovenia together with Guyana, Republic of Korea and Sierra Leone organized the UNSC Arria-formula meeting titled “Stepping up Preventive Action: From Environmental Challenges to Opportunities for Peace.” As 2023 was a devastating year for both climate and conflict our aim was to address the role of conflict prevention and climate change. Security Council members were briefed by a woman-only panel, stressing their experience on the ground.

With tensions and conflicts around the globe on the rise, the UN Security Council remains the central point of dialogue among its Members to – as the UN Charter stipulates – “investigate any situation which might lead to international friction and give rise to a dispute.” Additionally, the triple planetary crisis and its consequences for the international peace and security is one of the most defining challenges of our time.

“By scheduling this meeting, we wanted to foster a sincere conversation about the interaction of environmental degradation and consequences of climate change with economic, social, political and demographic factors. Only thorough understanding of the interaction the UN Security Council can contribute to successful preventive action,” emphasized Ambassador Žbogar as the Chair of the meeting.

/ H.E. Ambassador Samuel Žbogar, Photo: UN Web TV

In his opening remarks, he touched upon three points. First, the Ambassador vowed that prevention of conflicts is simpler and less costly than conflict resolution. “Slovenia believes that the threats related to the environment and climate can be successfully predicted,” he underlined. If we recognize the potential of early warning mechanisms, satellite imagery and artificial intelligence can help us foresee potential triggers before conflict erupts or escalates.

Second, effective and inclusive governance of natural resources and the environment can be an entry point for political dialogue about peace. It is Slovenia’s strong belief that environmental peacebuilding can contribute to longer-lasting peace and quicker recovery among communities left marginalized and disempowered by violence.

Thirdly, environmental challenges are not gender neutral. “Women are most impacted by climate change and environmental degradation but least consulted. It is crucial to recognize women’s unique potential as agents of positive environmental change,” said Slovenia’s Ambassador Žbogar. It is important to enable women’s full, equal, meaningful and safe participation in policy- and decision-making processes as their participation amplifies prevention efforts.

The UN Security Council and the broader UN membership was briefed by a panel of three women leaders who shared their experiences from around the world. Director-General of International Organization for Migration (IOM) Ms. Amy Pope cautioned that no one is immune to environmental pressures. This is why IOM is working in situations of crisis around the world to help people living in conflict-affected countries who are among the most vulnerable. She emphasised the importance of investments in disaster risk reduction, including early warning systems, such as the IOM’s Transhumance Tracking Tool used in countries across the Sahel, Chad, Central African Republic and Somalia.

/ Ms. Amy Pope, Photo: UN Web TV

Ms Hanna Serwaa Tetteh, Special Envoy of the Secretary General for the Horn of Africa, raised attention to the frequency, severity and duration of the climate shocks in the Horn of Africa, contributing to persistent food insecurity. The regional body – IGAD – has responded to the growing risks and decided to manage climate-related risks to peace and security together, through the first Regional Climate Security Coordination Mechanism. She recalled that the upcoming Summit of the Future offers the opportunity to translate the vision of the New Agenda for Peace into concrete action plans.

Finally, Ms. Nohora Alejandra Quiguantar, Colombian indigenous youth leader, Founder of Tejiendo Pensamiento – Indigenous Women for the Climate, Member of the Action Coalition on Feminist Action for Climate Justice drew attention to her recent experience of conflict in Colombia, in which the nature has suffered an immense damage.

/ Ms. Nohora Alejandra Quiguantar, Photo: UN Web TV

Over 40 UN member states took part in the meeting with their remarks. The recording of the meeting is available here.

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