Peace and security threatened by climate change, UN says

Posted Jul 21, 2011 by Lynn Herrmann
Global warming’s impacts can add another victim to its list, with international peace and security threatened by a changing climate, as the “unholy brew” causing security vacuums must be addressed by all countries, the United Nations (UN) warns.
Bardera  Somalia: Somalis walking towards a UN-supported feeding centre.
Bardera, Somalia: Somalis walking towards a UN-supported feeding centre.
UN Photo by Milton Grant
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday said the international community must take decisive steps toward addressing climate change. “Extreme weather events continue to grow more frequent and intense in rich and poor countries alike, not only devastating lives, but also infrastructure, institutions, and budgets – an unholy brew which can create dangerous security vacuums,” he said in a statement addressing a UN Security Council’s debate on climate change’s impact on international peace and security.
Acknowledging some progress has been made by the international community regarding the Copenhagen and Cancún agreements on climate change, the Secretary General added, “Now we need accelerated operationalization of all the agreements made at Cancún, including on protecting forests, adaptation and technology. Climate finance, the sine qua non for progress, must move from a conceptual discussion to concrete delivery of ‘fast-start’ financing and agreement on sources of long-term financing.”
Achim Steiner, UN Environment Program director, noted climate change is “a reality,” is happening at a rapid rate, and is accelerating. “It is the speed of environmental change, including climate change, that will be increasingly at the heart of our collective concern and response,,” he told the UN Security Council on Wednesday.
Droughts, floods and rising sea levels are all threats to global security, as food markets will be heavily impacted by the changing climate. “There can be little doubt today that climate change has potentially far-reaching implications for global stability and security in economic, social and environmental terms which will increasingly transcend the capacity of individual nation States to manage,” Steiner added in the UN statement.
A devastating drought in southern Somalia resulted in the UN declaring a state of famine on Wednesday, labeling it the worst food crisis on the African continent in the last two decades.
The next UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is scheduled to take place in December, in Durban, South Africa, and Ban said all countries must share in responsibilities on the climate change crisis. “Durban must provide a clear step forward on mitigation commitments and actions by all parties, according to their responsibilities and capabilities. Developed countries must lead, while at the same time emerging economies must shoulder their fair share.” He added there can be no spectators in securing the future of the planet.