2023 could be a good year for advancing climate-related issues in the United Nations Security Council. The two-year terms of elected Council members like India, which have been outspoken opponents of including climate change on the Council’s agenda, have ended, and Brazil’s newly elected government is likely to be a bit more open to discussing some specific impacts of climate change. And while strong climate, peace and security advocates like Kenya, Ireland, and Norway have rotated out, the incoming elected members include some likely supporters such as Switzerland, Malta, Ecuador, and Japan. Even the newly elected Mozambique, which historically has strong energy ties with Russia, has recently stressed the links between climatic factors and the rise of armed groups designated as terrorist in its territory, and now co-chairs the Informal Expert Group on climate security in the Council (together with the United Arab Emirates and Switzerland).
Of course, there are headwinds. Efforts to include “climate, peace and security” on the regular agenda of the Council in recent years have failed, and deep polarization within the Council over the war in Ukraine means the scope of agreement on new issues may be very narrow. Indeed, even the term “climate and security” is fraught, given the indirect links between climatic factors and the risks of violent conflict. It is very possible that the coming year could witness even deeper entrenchment, bringing prospects for advancing climate-related issues down with it. But given the accelerating impacts of climate change around the world, and increasing recognition that climatic factors are indeed affecting a wide range of areas that can drive security risks, the issue is becoming increasingly unavoidable.
If the ten elected members of the Council (E10) wish to advance the climate issue in 2023, they could consider the following six approaches. Read more