Statement Delivered by
H E Dr Ali Naseer Mohamed, Permanent Representative
at the UNSC Open Arria Formula Meeting: Preparing for security implications of rising temperatures
15 December 2017
Thank you Mr President,
At the outset, I would like to thank our co-organizers, the Governments of Italy, France, Germany, Japan, Morocco, the Netherlands, Peru, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. The Maldives was one of the first co-sponsors of the 2009 General Assembly resolution on the possible security implications of climate change, and we are very pleased to be one of the organizers of this debate. We recognize the importance of the issue, and we are encouraged by the many countries ready to engage today.
The year 2017 may one day be viewed as a pivotal moment in humanity’s effort to address climate change – the loudest wake-up call the world has yet received. It is impossible to ignore the three hurricanes – Irma, José, and Maria – which reset our expectations of what life on a warmer planet is really like. These three hurricanes devastated some of the richest parts of the world – and some of the poorest.
Small Island Developing States of the Caribbean were the hardest hit, where the loss of life and damage to basic infrastructure was staggering. Perhaps a decade of development progress erased overnight. And these three hurricanes were not the only notable disasters that we should lay at the feet of climate change.
As one of the lowest lying countries in the world, sea level rise is another prominent threat for Small Island Developing States such as the Maldives. We have taken the lead in bringing the initial response to this threat through the Small States Conference on Sea Level Rise held in the Maldives in 1989, resulting in the Male’ Declaration. The Maldives recognizes that rising sea levels poses a serious threat to the survival of small states, and we are taking appropriate measures in anticipation of the impacts. Our national policies envision how the country will respond and adapt to sea level rise, and long-term adaptation strategies are being implemented.
The security implications of rising temperatures are not isolated to Small Island Developing States. From fires to famine to flooding, every continent is feeling these impacts. Our first line of defence must be to ensure that developing countries have the support they need to adapt. There has been a persistent funding gap for adaptation, which trails far behind climate finance provided for mitigation. That must be remedied, with the lion's share of public and grant-based sources of finance reserved for adaptation. We also need a strong international mechanism to address loss and damage for when climate change impacts exceed the capacity of nations to adapt.
Managing the unavoidable impacts of climate change and preventing their escalation into full blown threats to peace and security will require unprecedented levels of international cooperation, and a holistic approach. A United Nations system that is fit for purpose will be essential. The Maldives supports the efforts of the Secretary-General to reform the United Nations security architecture to meet all the challenges of today, including non-traditional security threats. It is also important that the UN organ tasked with the maintenance of international peace and security is responsive to all countries, and therefore equitable representation on the Security Council must be a priority. Small Island Developing States are the underrepresented at the Council. While SIDS represent one fifth of the UN Membership, only eight have served on the Security Council in the last 72 years. As the Council takes up more non-traditional security threats like climate change, it is essential that those countries that are most impacted are given a prominent voice.
The Maldives stands ready to bring this voice to the Council, and lead the discussions in finding innovative and long-term solutions to these emerging issues. As the Secretary General has outlined in his strategy, our focus should be on the prevention of threats, and in order to do so, we must take a proactive approach. It is our action or inaction now, which will determine our destiny in facing a world where rising temperatures can change the face of international peace and security. I thank you.