Climate change as a security risk – Berlin climate and security conference

04.06.2019 - Article

The international Berlin climate and security conference is taking place on June 4 this year. Climate change is not merely an issue for environmental and economic policy; it also poses a fundamental challenge to our foreign and security policy, writes the German Foreign Office.

UN Photo / Albert Gonzalez Farran
Climate change – A challenge for our foreign and security policy.© UN Photo / Albert Gonzalez Farran

Changes in the climate are “risk multipliers”. Sometimes they can be seen in regions which are already fragile, such as the Lake Chad region, where they pose an additional threat to the stability of states and societies. But even seemingly stable regions can be plunged into upheaval as a result of climate change. For countries like Bangladesh, Ghana, Afghanistan or Maldives, the question of how to counter the resulting dangers at an early stage is absolutely crucial. The Berlin climate and security conference hopes to provide answers to this question.

Foreign Minister Maas will open the conference, along with John Kerry and the President of Nauru. Then numerous foreign ministers will discuss the security risks posed by climate change.

Be it extreme weather events or the distribution of ever scarcer vital resources like water: climate change is endangering the livelihoods of millions of people. Often they are forced to leave their homes. With that in mind, one of the guests expected at the conference is Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Scientists and policymakers want to work together to find solutions

Climate change affects each and every one of us. In tackling the issue of the links between climate and security, the conference is firmly committed to a partnership between scientists, researchers and policymakers. The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, one of the world’s most highly respected research institutions, initiated the Berlin climate and security conference in cooperation with the German Foreign Office and the think tank adelphi.

This is a reflection of our firm belief that only evidence-based policy can produce sustainable solutions.

The aim of the conference is to raise awareness of the security repercussions of climate change. We need concrete approaches for how the international community can counter these security risks – for instance via regional risk analyses or early-warning systems.

Climate change as an issue for the UN Security Council

“Climate and security” is a key issue for our two-year UN Security Council membership. Together with the island state of Nauru, Germany has established a Group of Friends comprising around fifty states, all of which want to see the UN Security Council take the link between climate and security into account in its decision-making in all conflict situations. In places where climate changes poses a threat to peace and security, the international community needs to take action before conflicts break out or escalate.

But the UN Security Council cannot and should not be a substitute for the established instruments of climate policy. After all, an ambitious climate policy continues to be the best way to limit climate risks. All countries need to step up their efforts in the area of climate protection, also in the interests of global security and stability. As long as the international community’s climate goals are not sufficient to limit global warming to an acceptable level, however, we must address the foreign and security policy impact of climate Change.

©German Foreign Office

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