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UNGA Second Committee Discusses Climate Change Impacts and Threats

© UN General Assembly19 October 2009: The UN General Assembly (UNGA) Second Committee (Economic and Financial) participated, on 19 October, in a panel discussion focused on “Climate Change: Impacts and Threats,” based on the Secretary-General's report “Climate Change and its Possible Security Implications.” The event was organized by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) under the auspices of the Second Committee.

Margareta Wahlström, Assistant Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, underscored food insecurity caused by climate change worsening drought, floods, desertification and increasingly unpredictable weather events. She prioritized mitigation, water, prevention of irreversible effects on ecosystems, education and accelerated risk-reduction investment. Second Committee Chair Park In-kook (Republic of Korea) called for strengthening governance institutions to resolve conflicts and improve information sharing and early warning on climate-related threats.

Koko Warner, Head of the Environmental Migration, Social Vulnerability, and Adaptation Section, Institute of Environment and Human Security, United Nations University (UNU), warned against future mass migrations due to sea-level rise or drought. Rolph Payet, Special Adviser to the President of Seychelles, stressed the issue of sovereignty of populations faced with losing their homeland. Geoffrey Dabelko, Director, Environmental Change and Security Programme, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, called for ground-level action to address climate change together with long-standing underlying threats to security. He pointed to the “win-win” strategies identified in the Secretary-General's report such as trans-boundary water-sharing institutions. In ensuing discussions, Warner noted that none of the proposals under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change are sufficient to protect vulnerable countries and populations, but said they represent a starting point. [UNGA press release] [Event website]