Security and Climate Change: Together at Last!

Just an hour ago we got a dispatch from our partners who have been working hard to get a resolution passed by the UN Security Council.  It’s a resolution that draws the link–strongly–between climate and international security issues.  Here’s the dispatch from Tekau Frere (small island advocate and French Polynesian) about the latest developments:

Sea level rise, increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme events, destruction of coral reefs, soil erosion, salinization of soils and fresh water reserves, changes in precipitation patterns, spread of vector-borne diseases, etc, are some of the current and projected impacts used by scientists, community members, governments, or organizations to demonstrate the reality of climate on small islands. Yet, despite the numerous graphic images, reports, or documentaries, the alarmist bell has been rung in vacuum. The fate of many island nations, especially atoll nations such as Tuvalu, Kiribati, or the Maldives, has been used as a matter of sensational news. The international climate change negotiations never truly discussed how climate change would impact the existence, thus security of these nations.

For small island nations, climate change is an existential threat. Representatives of these countries have been seeking the help of the international community for years. Despite their multiple and repetitive shout out for assistance, they never received a concrete echo. Tired of waiting and thriving to get their plight heard, a group of 12 island nations at the United Nations, the Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS), decided to act and move the international community.

The PSIDS drafted a resolution which is now strong of more than 80 co-sponsors. Entitled “the possible implications of climate change on security”, this ground breaking resolution urges all relevant organs of the UN to intensify their efforts in dealing with climate change and its consequences. It also asks the Secretary General to submit a report to the general assembly on the security implications of climate change.

Although no blue helmet will be sent to small islands to stop the waters from rising, the text demonstrates the commitment of the international community to recognize that climate change is not just a development issue. It recognizes that this global and multi-sector challenge needs to be dealt with the entire spectrum of UN organs and, thus, opens the door to more climate related actions.

Small islands contribute the least to climate change, yet they suffer the most. Their small sizes and small economies may not make them focal international actors, but their passion, perseverance, and legitimacy in this matter have inscribed them as protagonists in the issue of climate change. Although the negotiation process was certainly challenging, they succeeded in sharing their plight and overcoming national interests. Thanks to the support and strong assistance from their initial co-sponsors, they achieve a significant and admirable victory. This resolution proves that with a little political will and willingness to communicate, there is hope in climate negotiations. 

  • HAPPENING NOW: “Years of Living Dangerously” watch-parties and web-chat. More at 350.org/years

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