What's In Blue

Posted Tue 8 Mar 2022

Arria-formula Meeting: Climate Finance for Sustaining Peace and Security

Tomorrow (9 March) at 10 am EST in the ECOSOC chamber, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will convene a ministerial-level Arria-formula meeting on climate finance (that is, the local, national or transnational financing of initiatives aimed at addressing climate change and its effects) as a means to build and sustain peace in conflict, post-conflict and crisis situations. The UAE’s Special Envoy for Climate Change and Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, is expected to chair the meeting. In addition to Council members, other member states are invited to make brief statements during the meeting, which will be broadcast on UNTV. The UAE plans to produce a summary of the discussion—as well as a compilation of the statements that are submitted in writing—that will be circulated as a UN document.

The anticipated briefers are: Yannick Glemarec, the Executive Director of the Green Climate Fund; Alok Sharma, the President of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference; Nafisah Abubakar, the Head of the Secretariat of Rural Women Energy Security (RUWES) Initiative in Nigeria; Paul Chet Greene, the Foreign Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, who chairs the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS); and John Kerry, the US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate. The briefers may describe projects or programmes that address the adverse effects of climate change on security and propose solutions for their financing. Interventions are also expected from representatives of the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and Egypt (the host of the 27th UN Climate Change Conference later this year).

According to a concept note prepared by the UAE, the meeting aims to “identify and assess how climate finance and conflict prevention strategies and programs can be aligned and strengthened in relevant contexts, as well as outline potential next steps on coordination between climate and security actors”. In many UN peace operation mandates, the Council emphasises the importance of developing risk management strategies to address the adverse effects of climate change and other ecological factors. A point that may be raised at tomorrow’s meeting is that creating these strategies requires financial investments in water and food management, infrastructure development, and other activities related to climate change adaptation. (According to UN Climate Change—the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)—climate change adaptation refers to “adjustments in ecological, social, or economic systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli and their effects or impacts”.) Several speakers may stress the need for developed countries to fulfil their commitments to provide climate financing to the developing world. They may place special emphasis on the climate finance needs of conflict-affected states.

Some participants may argue that climate finance is not a matter for the Security Council, as this issue is already addressed through the UNFCCC. However, while underscoring the central role of the UNFCCC in climate adaptation, other member states may stress that climate finance should be sensitive to the effects of climate change in exacerbating conflict risk factors. These members may note that a holistic approach to peace and security envisions climate finance as an instrument to build resilience to conflict risk factors, which are exacerbated by climate change, such as drought or food scarcity. In this regard, they may maintain that climate finance can contribute to conflict prevention and peacebuilding.

Council members have previously explored issues related to climate change adaptation and resilience, most notably in a videoconference open debate during the UK’s February 2021 presidency on “Addressing climate-security risks to international peace and security through mitigation and resilience building” (S/2021/198). At that meeting, Secretary-General António Guterres said: “[w]e need a breakthrough on adaptation and resilience, which means dramatically raising the level of investments”. He added that “[a]ll donors and multilateral and national development banks must increase the share of adaptation and resilience finance to at least 50 percent of their climate finance support, and we must make those funds accessible to those on the front lines of the climate crisis”.

Several member states are likely to raise the importance of women’s participation in climate financing processes. In this regard, they may note the need to redress the lack of meaningful involvement of women in such processes. The concept note emphasises that “women’s full, equal, and meaningful participation in relevant decision-making—such as resource management boards, peace processes, and programme approval committees—remains uneven across security contexts and climate finance institutions”. The issue of women’s decision-making in climate finance is relevant to the theme of the open debate hosted by the UAE earlier today (8 March) on: “Advancing the Women, Peace and Security agenda through partnerships: Women’s economic inclusion and participation as a key to building peace”. Some members may also highlight the disproportionate effects of climate change on women.

The concept note poses several questions to help guide the discussion, including:

  • How can climate finance providers best support conflict prevention, stabilisation and peacebuilding strategies?
  • How can the low level of multilateral climate finance disbursed in conflict-affected and fragile settings be redressed without withdrawing climate finance needed in other developing countries?
  • What actions can be taken to ensure that climate-related risk assessments, risk management strategies, prevention strategies, and peacebuilding programs are gender-sensitive and support women’s full, equal, and meaningful participation in decision-making and implementation?
  • What metrics and indicators can be used to gauge the contribution of climate finance to peace and security?

Tomorrow’s meeting will be the first Arria-formula meeting of 2022. This follows the calendar year 2021, in which Council members held 32 such meetings. While Arria-formula meetings are considered informal, it will also be the first thematic meeting (formal or informal) that Council members have had on climate change since Russia’s veto of a draft resolution tabled by Ireland and Niger on climate and security in December 2021.

Over the years, Council members have frequently used the Arria-formula meeting format to discuss climate change and security. Tomorrow’s meeting will be the eighth Arria-formula meeting that Council members have held on climate-related security matters; the most recent such meeting—titled “Sea-level rise and implications for international peace and security”—was held in October 2021.

The Council’s discussion of the link between climate change and security remains highly divisive. While 11 members favour Council engagement on this issue, four members (Brazil, China, India, and Russia) have strong reservations. The UAE is a strong proponent of Council engagement on climate change and security matters. It will also host the UN’s 28th Climate Change Conference in 2023. In recent months, it appears that disagreements over climate change language have significantly hampered the Council’s efforts to adopt presidential statements on the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) and the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA).

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