Climate Security – It’s Crunch Time

The Security Council in session at the UN headquarters in New York

It’s crunch time for the global climate security discourse. While the COVID-19 crisis remains the key present challenge, it’s time to take stock of where the debate stands on the security implications of climate change in the run-up to another debate in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) scheduled for July 2020. The Berlin Climate Security Conference series initiated a year ago with a call for action complements the UNSC debate, with one conference taking place end of June and a follow-up conference in September 2020 to pave the way for more action. A “Global Climate Security Risk and Foresight Assessment,” intended to help identify concrete solutions, is part of implementing the call. It should enable the international community to design and implement early action to avoid an increase in fragility and decarbonisation on the basis of robust and interdisciplinary scientific findings.

This newsletter edition looks into some of the preliminary insights of the foresight assessment, and also aims at offering some insights into the perspective of non-permanent members – some of them heavily impacted by the consequences of climate change on their political, social and economic stability. Researchers from the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy at the University of Erfurt analysed the potential expectations of the Dominican Republic, Viet Nam, and South Africa. The three states are UNSC members in 2020 and acknowledge the economic and health risks posed by climate change as key vulnerabilities that can create common ground in New York in a few weeks. For the next years, India will also be a driving force as incoming non-permanent member of the Security Council. India has shown that it can be quite effective in promoting dialogue with developing countries on their key concerns. In this context, India is well-known for stressing principles such as fairness, representation and transparency. Seen in this light, there are some prospects for broadening the debate on climate security in the UNSC and good reason to take a second look at the follow-up to the July debate in New York.