Stepping up Preventive Action: From Environmental Challenges to Opportunities for Peace

Event Announcement: UN Security Council Arria-formula Meeting

Date: Monday, 8 July 2024, 3:00 – 6:00 pm

Place: ECOSOC Chamber, UN Headquarters

Briefers

  • Ms Amy Pope, Director-General of International Organization for Migration
  • Ms Hanna Serwaa Tetteh, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Horn of Africa
  • Civil Society Representative (TBC)

Introduction

2023 was a devastating year for both climate and conflict. Conflicts increased by 12 per cent compared to 2022. At the same time, it was the hottest year on record, perilously close to the 1.5°C threshold. Climate disasters and conflicts affect livelihoods, lead to mass displacements both within and across borders, and further deepen pre-existing inequalities and vulnerabilities.

More than 40 per cent of internal armed conflicts over the past 60 years have been linked to natural resources which are essential to achieving sustainable development. However, increasing demand combined with the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution, poor resource management, scarcity and unequal access, all intensify the competitive pressures between communities over access, use and control of natural resources. With the current pace of climate change and degradation, tensions over natural resources increasingly trigger, fuel or drive armed conflicts.

The UN can support national and regional endeavors and assist in sharing experiences and strengthening capacity to deliver early warning and early action in fragile and conflict-affected situations that are vulnerable to tensions over natural resources, such as fertile land, wildlife and water. At the same time, building capacity for effective and inclusive governance and management of natural resources can be an important investment in conflict prevention. By integrating early warning mechanisms and preventive actions, these challenges can be transformed into opportunities for sustainable peace, resilience, and development.

As primary managers and users of natural resources in many fragile and conflict-affected contexts, women have a key role to play in prevention, management and resolution of natural resource-related tensions. Although being disproportionately affected by climate change and environmental degradation, women are often excluded from decision-making about natural resources. Women bring perspectives that foster inclusive and fair solutions, thereby contributing to more comprehensive, effective, and enduring conflict prevention strategies and bolstering community resilience and stability.  Enhancing 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.

The upcoming 2024 High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development “Reinforcing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and eradicating poverty in times of multiple crises: The effective delivery of sustainable, resilient and innovative solutions” and an in-depth review of SDG 1 (No Poverty), 2 (Zero Hunger), 13 (Climate Action), 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions), and 17 (Partnerships for the Goals) offer the UN Security Council Members and broader UN Membership an opportunity to reflect upon the connections between natural resources, environmental degradation, climate change and peace and security.

Furthermore, 2024 holds significance as it marks the convergence of the Conference of the Parties (COPs) for all three Rio Conventions—on Biodiversity, Climate Change, and Desertification—where peace emerges as a recurring theme.

Objectives of the meeting

This United Nations Security Council Arria Formula Meeting will take a closer look at the regional experiences related to the interaction of environmental degradation and consequences of climate change with economic, social, political and demographic factors. With increased climate-related security risks in several regions across the globe, marked by loss of livelihoods, food and water insecurity, competition over scarce natural resources, human mobility and political and economic instability, the meeting will offer space to discuss:

Firstly, how can the UN Security Council strengthen its conflict prevention efforts when it comes to tensions over natural resources?

The Secretary General’s New Agenda for Peace brings a new perspective to the issue by laying out a comprehensive toolbox of conflict prevention activities at global and regional levels. In addition to operational measures, it argues that the prevention of conflict and violence is a universal responsibility, applicable to all countries and societies and requires inclusive, nationally-led, longer-term structural interventions and peacebuilding. It identifies sustainable policies that apply whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches, in order to address the underlying causes of conflict.

Secondly, how can the UN system equip the UN Security Council with comprehensive risk assessments and early warning on risks related to natural resource-related tensions, environmental degradation and the impacts of climate change?

Science evidence and conflict- and climate-sensitive data analysis can lead to comprehensive risk assessment, as well as evidence-based and timely reaction, aiming at preventing escalation of tensions and violence. Local, regional and global action has to harness local knowledge, nature-based solutions and the capacity of primary users of natural resources, including women, indigenous groups and other marginalized communities on the ground. Cross-border areas demand special attention as their vulnerabilities are particularly high.

And finally, how can we integrate natural resource management, environmental protection and climate adaptation into opportunities for peace through inclusive dialogue, trust and mutual understanding at various levels?

This meeting will reflect on the Council’s engagement in this regard so far and showcase examples of good practices where women’s interventions around natural resources, the environment and climate change provided significant opportunities. Building on the examples of sustainable forest management in Latin America, regional cooperation on water issues in Central Asia, prevention mechanisms related to transhumance in West and Central Africa and climate adaptation and mitigation in the Horn of Africa, it will provide stimulus for climate-sensitive and gender-transformative approaches to meaningful preventive action by the UN Security Council in the future.

Modalities

The meeting, organized by Slovenia together with Guyana, Republic of Korea and Sierra Leone, will be chaired by Ambassador Samuel Žbogar, Representative of Slovenia to the UN Security Council. Interpretation into the official languages of the UN will be provided subject to availability.

All UN Member States, Observers and UN Agencies are invited to participate. To facilitate participation by as many delegations as possible, interventions should not exceed three minutes. Time management will be closely observed.

Delegations are kindly invited to inscribe to the list of speakers by Tuesday, 2 July 2024, COB at slomission.newyork@gov.si.

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