What's In Blue

Posted Sun 7 Jul 2024

Arria-formula Meeting: “Stepping up Preventive Action: From Environmental Challenges to Opportunities for Peace”

On Monday (8 July), Council members will convene for an Arria-formula meeting on “Stepping up Preventive Action: From Environmental Challenges to Opportunities for Peace”. Slovenia is organising the meeting together with Guyana, the Republic of Korea (ROK), and Sierra Leone. Amy Pope, the Director-General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Horn of Africa Hanna Serwaa Tetteh, are expected to brief. A woman civil society representative from Latin America is also expected to brief.

Participation in the meeting, which will begin at 3 pm EST and take place in the ECOSOC Chamber, is open to all UN member states, permanent observers and UN agencies.

Slovenia has circulated a concept note in preparation for the meeting. It states that “2023 was a devastating year for both climate and conflict”, while observing that conflicts increased by 12 percent in comparison with 2022 and that 2023 “was the hottest year on record, perilously close to the 1.5°C threshold”. According to the concept note, the meeting aims to highlight “the regional experiences related to the interaction of environmental degradation and consequences of climate change with economic, social, political, and demographic factors”. In this regard, the meeting is expected to explore climate-related security risks around the world, which are marked by “loss of livelihoods, food and water insecurity, competition over scarce natural resources, human mobility and political and economic instability”.

Questions posed in the concept note to help guide the discussion include:

  • How can the UN Security Council strengthen its conflict prevention efforts when it comes to tensions over natural resources?
  • How can the UN system equip the UN Security Council with comprehensive risk assessments and early warning on risks related to natural resource-related tensions, environmental degradation and the impacts of climate change?
  • How can natural resource management, environmental protection and climate adaptation be integrated into opportunities for peace through inclusive dialogue, trust and mutual understanding at various levels?

Pope might describe how the IOM’s data collection on the movement of people, including due to environmental reasons, can serve as an early-warning mechanism and a basis for conflict-prevention initiatives. In this regard, she may refer to examples from areas such as the West Africa and Sahel region and the Lake Chad Basin, where climatic variability and growing competition over increasingly scarce resources have affected transhumance routes and have increased tensions between herder and farmer communities as a result of transhumance-related activities. Pope may elaborate on the IOM’s Transhumance Tracking Tool (TTT), which collects data to map informal transhumance corridors and monitor transhumance flows. This data is used to inform local governments and to work with local communities to prevent conflict and to build resilience.

Tetteh may address environmental challenges to peace and security in the Horn of Africa. In A New Agenda for Peace, which was released in July 2023 and reflects the Secretary-General’s vision for multilateral efforts to promote peace and security, one of the Secretary-General’s recommendations on climate, peace and security is the establishment of regional hubs “to connect national and regional experiences, provide technical advice to Member States and help accelerate progress on this agenda”. The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has set up the first such hub, and member states in the region have identified climate change as a joint concern. Drawing on her close collaboration with IGAD, Tetteh may highlight national and regional challenges and describe best practices that could be replicated elsewhere. The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF recently reported that the Horn of Africa has experienced one of the worst droughts in recent decades, compounded by years of conflict and instability.

The civil society briefer might address the impact of environmental degradation, such as deforestation, in perpetuating insecurity, particularly in Latin America.

Tomorrow’s Arria-formula meeting continues Council members’ focus on the linkages between environmental factors and peace and security. On 13 February, Guyana convened a high-level open debate on “The impact of climate change and food insecurity on the maintenance of international peace and security”, as the signature event of its presidency. On 22 March 2023, Mozambique and Switzerland co-organised an Arria-formula meeting on the “Protection of civilians: Achieving a better protection of water-related essential services and infrastructure for the civilian population during armed conflicts”. (For more information, see our 12 February and 21 March What’s in Blue stories.)

At tomorrow’s meeting, members may underscore the urgency of building resilience and developing early-warning tools to address environmental factors generating insecurity. Some may note the importance of stepping up international cooperation regarding the effective governance of natural resources. Several members are likely to underscore the importance of the meaningful participation of women in policy and decision-making processes at all levels of conflict prevention and resolution amid environmental and climate-related challenges. Another issue that might be discussed is the detrimental environmental impact of conflict, including in places such as Gaza and Ukraine.

Some members may reference the work of the UN Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA), which coordinates UN political engagement and preventive efforts in Central Asia. They may describe the UNRCCA’s efforts to help promote long-term responses to water, energy and environmental resources based on perceptions of shared risks from climate change. In addition, some members may mention the recently adopted presidential statement (S/PRST/2024/3) on West Africa and the Sahel, in which the Council recognised that the adverse effects of climate change, ecological changes and natural disasters worsen insecurity and instability in the region. Disagreement on the language on the impact of climate change in West Africa and the Sahel was a major factor impeding the adoption of this statement for nearly two and a half years. (For more information, see our 23 May What’s in Blue story.)

Council members are divided on whether environmental issues should be addressed in the Security Council. For example, China and Russia may reiterate their reservations about the Council’s work on climate, peace and security. Others are likely to take a different position. In this regard, France, Guyana, Japan, Malta, Mozambique, the ROK, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, Switzerland, the UK and the US are particularly strong advocates of Council involvement on this file. Mozambique and Switzerland serve as co-chairs of the Informal Expert Group on Climate Change, Peace and Security.

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