UN High Commissioner Identifies Climate Change as Contributing to Crisis in Mali

10 December 2012: UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres addressed the UN Security Council on the Mali crisis, citing climate change as one of the factors precipitating the situation.

The High Commissioner urged the international community to take account of the whole context of the Sahel region, stressing that countries of the region are among the main victims of climate change. He noted the likelihood of increased frequency of drought and desertification as a potential source of conflict over scarce resources, as well as a new driver of forced displacement. He called on the international community to meet its “clear moral obligation” to help communities build resilience in region, in particular urging countries contributing the most to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to take action.

Guterres stated that resilience is key not only to better prevent and mitigate the impact of natural disasters, but also to adapt to the slow onset of desertification and other forms of environmental destruction. His call was supported at the Security Council session by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who said that much more needs to be done to strengthen resilience in the region. In September 2012, the Secretary-General appointed former Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi as his Special Envoy to the region, tasked with finalizing and implementing a UN Integrated Regional Strategy for the Sahel, working closely with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union (AU), and Malian authorities.

Guterres also welcomed the entry into force of the AU Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Africa. Also known as the Kampala Convention, the treaty recognizes the contribution of conflict, violence, climate change, natural disasters, and development projects to the movement and displacement of people. [High Commissioner's Statement to Security Council] [UN Press Release] [UN Secretary-General's Statement] [IISD RS Story on the Kampala Convention]