One of the greatest threats to our security

Published 9 July 2018 in:

Photo: UN Photo/George Love

Even if the link between climate change and security is complex, there is no doubt that it has a negative impact on our security. This is particularly true of regions that are already at risk and with limited opportunities to manage major crises and events. Through its work on the UN Security Council, Sweden is actively addressing the issue of the link between climate and security.

No one can avoid the consequences of climate change, and they leave no one unaffected. They include everything from flooding from our waterways, changed water levels in the world’s oceans and human impact on coral reefs to the expansion of desert areas and prolonged drought.

But there is also a clear link between climate change and its impact on stability and security. One example is Mali, where climate change has served to exacerbate the country’s already fragile situation – shorter rain periods have created greater competition for the few natural resources available, which in turn has led to increasing migration flows and greater instability.

Another example is northern Nigeria, where increasing drought is destroying opportunities for people to earn a living and is pitting Muslim shepherds and Christian farmers against one another in the fight over water and natural resources. People’s livelihoods – and ultimately their lives – are threatened by the impacts of climate change, which creates dissension and is a breeding ground for radicalisation and conflicts.

For some time, Sweden has actively worked for the link between climate change and security to be more clearly highlighted in international contexts and forums. This is shown in the work carried out by Sweden as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in which, since becoming a member in 2017, it has made sure the issue was raised and addressed several times.

One major success in these efforts was Security Council resolution 2349 on the Lake Chad Basin, which was adopted in March last year. The resolution is unique in that it states that climate change plays a role in the security of the region, and emphasises the need of better risk analysis and better management of the issue by the UN. The UN Security Council has also called attention to climate-related security risks in the Sahel, West Africa and Somalia through resolutions and statements.

It is clear that climate change affects global security, but we must work even harder to increase understanding and knowledge about the link between climate and security in international forums. Sweden will continue to work to ensure that this important link is made clearer and assigned greater importance. This is also one of Sweden’s priorities for its Presidency of the UN Security Council in July.