UN Security Council Discusses Security Implications of Climate Change

15 February 2013: The UN Security Council held an informal, Arria formula meeting on the “security dimensions of climate change.” Tony deBrum, Minister in Assistance to the President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, gave a press conference at UN Headquarters in New York, US, after speaking as a panelist about the security issues faced by his country and other small island developing States (SIDS).

The meeting, closed to outside observers and media, was organized by the Governments of Pakistan and the UK. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon offered remarks, followed by statements by representatives of island States.

Responding to questions, deBrum identified China, the Russian Federation and Guatemala, as well as the Group of 77, as opposing the consideration of climate change by the UN Security Council. He expressed the hope that individuals who travel to and experience island States, particularly for the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) meeting in the Marshall Islands in September 2013, would globally reveal the present climate situation in SIDS.

Noting that the Security Council is experiencing “difficulty” grappling with climate change as a security issue, deBrum said he had made a plea for the Marshall Islands' survival, just 35 years after he made petition for the country's independence to the same UN body. Highlighting challenges such as flooded roads, salinated well-water, a lack of fruit, and human migration, deBrum stated that “many of our friends throughout the world do not realize the urgency of this problem.”

DeBrum also expressed his wish that the Security Council meeting would have been open to the media in an open forum style. Stressing the need to “put a human face” on the issue of climate change security, he called on the Security Council to keep up with information from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and to assist in the development of alternative energy technology in island States. [Webcast of Press Conference] [Summary of Press Conference]