Defense Ministers Highlight Climate Threats to Peace and Security
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At the International Conference on the Implications of Climate Change for Defense, convened by France's Ministry of Defense in the lead-up to the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the UNFCCC, defense authorities and experts from 35 countries, the UN, the African Union and the EU shared views on the implications of climate change for defense, peace and security.

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14 October 2015: At the International Conference on the Implications of Climate Change for Defense, convened by France’s Ministry of Defense in the lead-up to the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the UNFCCC, defense authorities and experts from 35 countries, the UN, the African Union and the EU shared views on the implications of climate change for defense, peace and security.

The event convened in Paris, France, on 14 October 2015, and included round-table discussions on: pressure on natural resources and food security; extreme weather events and human security; implications for defense policy; and green defense.

In his statement to the conference, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that extreme weather events threaten to provoke widespread food insecurity and humanitarian crises, including massive population movements. Underscoring climate change as a threat multiplier, Ban said it can both exacerbate conflicts within and between States, as well as threaten international peace and security. He commended those looking at “green defense” solutions, including infrastructure changes, and energy and technology initiatives.

Ban also recalled the recent urging by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Parliamentary Assembly for member governments to support a binding global climate agreement, which he said would lead to benefits such as: poverty reduction; the promotion of sustainable development; mitigated risks; and strengthened peace and stability. He added that failing to achieve such an agreement in Paris would lead to “insurmountable challenges” regarding achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and roll back decades of development efforts.

Ministers discussed experiences related to vulnerability and climate change, including consequences for their armed forces. They also addressed: the contributions of their departments to public policies for sustainable development, from the eco-design of weapon systems, to the energy efficiency of infrastructure and equipment; and the protection of ecosystems in operational theaters.

The Government of Seychelles, which was represented at the meeting, notes that the consequences of climate change threaten global peace and security “by amplifying vulnerabilities in fragile countries and regions which may lead to crises or conflicts.”

A follow-up meeting is expected to take place in Morocco, the host country of COP 22, in 2016. [Statement of UN Secretary-General] [Government of Seychelles Press Release] [IISD RS Story on NATO Call] [Embassy of France in Accra Press Release]

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