Remarks to the press by Ambassador Wittig on Climate Security

Jul 20, 2011

(near verbatim transcript)

This was a good day today for climate security. Germany, in its capacity as Security Council Presidency, convened this debate in order to discuss one of the most important challenges to international peace and security of this century, namely climate change.

An outstandingly great number of States of the UN participated in this debate. That, of course, shows the big echo that this issue has elicited in Member States, their interest in the topic and their urgent need to address challenges of the 21st century in the Security Council.

Today, the Council acted in a preventive mode. Far too often we act in the Council only when victims already lie in the streets. But today, our initiative was directed to prevent new emerging conflicts of this century. And that was the prevention mode and I’m happy that everybody took part in that.

Now, we adopted a Presidential Statement, as you know, after long and inclusive discussions and I want to highlight two achievements of this Presidential Statement:

First of all, with this statement the Security Council recognizes the potential threat of climate change to international peace and security. And secondly, it tasks the Secretary General to report on security implication of climate change in his reporting - to give contextual information, as it says, on security implication of climate change within the framework of his reporting duties. So we have here a kind of mainstreaming of the security implication of climate change in the system of the reporting of the Secretary General and that is what we feel a very important achievement.

Q.: [inaudible] What can you say to those who are saying that beyond the General Assembly the UNFDC has a role. Bolivia for example said, why give Climate to the Council if some of the biggest poluters on world have a veto there... [inaudible]

We had quite extensive discussions over the last day of this PRST. We wanted to get everybody on board and it succeeded in the end. There was a spirit of compromise and flexibility at work and we have a very good product. We made it clear from the outset and that is also laid down in the Presidential Statement that we are not encroaching on competences of other organs. We are all for keeping the UNFCCC track in order and let them do their work. We are all for the General Assembly and other bodies, the ECOSOC debating this issue. But today, we recognize that there are security implications of climate change that the Security Council should be interested in.

Q. [inaudible]

No, this is not as far as we go in the statement. This is about recognizing the potential threat of climate change to international peace and security and it is about the reporting of the Secretary General - that he includes contextual information on the security implications of climate change in his reporting. And those are two very important steps that we took and as I say, this is really a very good day for climate security in the UN.

Q. [inaudible]

No, I was not surprised. And I respect those who fear that other bodies might suffer in importance when the Security Council is discussing those issues. But I think those worries could be soothed and I think they have been soothed in our debate and with the statement we made it clear: no encroachment. But we made it also clear: the Security Council recognizes that there is a potential of climate change that aggravates existing threats and that is a important step forward.

Thank you.

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