IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON MAINTENANCE OF PEACE AND SECURITY ON RADAR SCOPE OF UN SECURITY COUNCIL
NEW YORK- The UN Security Council is set to hold an open debate on the impact of climate change on the maintenance of international peace and security in July. Achim Steiner, the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, can be expected to come from Nairobi in order to brief Council members on the situation that is at the heart of the existence of many small island developing States in the Pacific and elsewhere.
The Security Council previously held a high-level debate on the energy-climate-security nexus on 17 April 2007. At that time, the UK held the Presidency of the Council. This year, Germany holds the Presidency of the Council in July. While the 2007 meeting produced no formal outcome, some non-members of the Council at that time had asked if the topic was compatible with the mandate of the Council under the UN Charter.
Since April 2007, much has transpired internationally to hold the emphasis of the world on global warming: the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has continued its work, and the UN Department of Public Information also held its annual conference for NGOs in 2007 on the topic "Climate Change: How it Impacts Us All".
On 3 June 2009, under the initiative of the small islands, a debate was held in the General Assembly on climate change and the security implications that it might be bringing. Later that year in September, the Secretary-General's report to the General Assembly identified climate change as a "threat multiplier" that can also negatively impact the already-fragile gains that the developing world has made in achieving the internationally agreed development goals, including the MDGs. Day-to-day development challenges, such as provision of energy, food price stability, domestic and international conflict, can all be impacted by climate change.
The outcome of the meeting this month could deal, among several options, with the need for peacekeeping and peacebuilding to understand the impact of the changing atmosphere in this work, or again, the outcome could be that the Council will take no action at this time.
It is certain that whatever the outcome, it will undoubtedly not be enough for those countries whose very existence is being threatened by forces with which those nations have no substantial cause.