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Statement on environmental challenges and peace

Statement by Representative of Slovenia to the UN Security Council Ambassador Samuel Žbogar at the Arria-formula meeting titled “Stepping up Preventive Action: From Environmental Challenges to Opportunities for Peace”

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, dear colleagues,

On behalf of the organizers and co-sponsors of today’s arria formula meeting, Guyana, Republic of Korea, Sierra Leone and my country, Slovenia, I would like to welcome you to today’s UN Security Council arria formula meeting “Stepping up Preventive Action: From Environmental Challenges to Opportunities for Peace”.

Colleagues, a word also on the modalities of today’s meeting. Due to the nearly concurrent meeting of the security council committee and the UN liquidity crisis, full interpretation services will only be provided for the first hour of the meeting, followed by the English-spanish interpretation for the full duration of the meeting.

I apologize for that and I ask for your understanding.

With tensions and conflicts around the globe on the rise, the United Nations Security Council remains the central point of exchange and dialogue among its Members to – as the UN Charter stipulates – to “investigate any situation which might lead to international friction and give rise to a dispute”.

And this is why the conveners of today’s meeting invited you to take a closer look at one of the most defining challenges of our time – the triple planetary crisis and its consequences for international peace and security – with an aim to look at it as an opportunity to upkeep, maintain and reinstate peace.

The increasing demand for natural resources combined with the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution, and poor resource management, keeps adding to the competitive pressures between communities over access, use and control. It is becoming increasingly hard to ignore that with the current pace of climate change and degradation, they rarely, if ever, trigger conflicts. However, their interplay with other factors can multiply risks that are known to contribute to insecurity.

Allow me to bring to the discussion the following three points in my national capacity:

Firstly, prevention of conflicts is simpler and less costly than conflict resolution. Secretary General has been clear in his call for prevention to become a political priority through his proposed New Agenda for Peace: “Effective prevention requires comprehensive approaches, political courage, effective partnerships, sustainable resources and national ownership. Above all, it needs greater trust – among Member States, among people and in the United Nations.

We have seen the UN Security Council time and again to be caught off-guard, ignore or misinterpret early warning signs, neglect to take into account or dismiss the emerging challenges. We believe that the threats related to the environment and climate can be successfully predicted. Early warning mechanisms, supported by new technologies, satellite imagery and artificial intelligence can help us foresee and identify potential conflict triggers before conflicts erupt or escalate – if only we recognize their potential.

Secondly, effective and inclusive governance of natural resources and the environment can be an entry point for political dialogue about peace. It is our strong belief that it can be viewed as an investment in conflict prevention as well as a critical element of and peace-keeping and peace-making. Environmental peacebuilding can contribute to longer-lasting peace and quicker recovery among communities left marginalized and disempowered by violence.

Let me use an example of water, one that also my country, Slovenia, experienced. Despite predictions of “water wars,” shared waters have proved to be the natural resource with the greatest potential for interstate cooperation and local confidence building. Water-related risks and tensions can be considerably reduced when the resilience of societies and ecosystems is strengthened through cooperation. Indeed, inclusive and sustainable water management plays an uniquely important role in rebuilding trust after conflict and in preventing a return to conflict.

And thirdly, environmental challenges are not gender neutral. Women are most impacted by climate change and environmental degradation but least consulted. It is crucial to recognise women’s unique potential as agents of positive environmental change. Women’s participation broadens perspectives, fosters inclusive and fair solutions, diversifies the pool of talents and competences, thereby contributing to more comprehensive, effective and enduring conflict prevention strategies and bolstering community resilience and stability.

Enabling women’s full, equal, meaningful and safe participation in policy and decision-making processes amplifies these prevention efforts, promoting lasting peace and security amid environmental and climate challenges.

So colleagues, by scheduling this meeting, we would like 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 can contribute to successful preventive action. One that is required from the Security Council, in collaboration with the broader UN system.

This meeting will therefore offer space to discuss the role of conflict prevention, as well as the importance of comprehensive risk assessments and early warning on risks related to the natural resource-related tensions, environmental degradation and impacts of climate change.

We aim to build on the discussions of the UN Security Council on this topic in the past and pay particular attention to natural resource management, environmental protection and climate adaptation as an opportunity for enhanced dialogue, trust and mutual understanding.

I would like to invite our three briefers – a women only panel – to deliver their remarks.

It is my first pleasure to introduce Ms. Amy Pope, Director-General of the International Organization for Migration.

Ms. Pope, the floor is yours.

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