Statement on cluster III: Climate change and security

Delivered by Ambassador Anne-Kirsti Karlsen at the 13th Meeting of the Informal Working Group Structured Dialogue, Vienna, 18 June 2021.


Norway would like to thank the Spanish Chair of the Informal Working Group for yet again placing climate change and security on the Structured Dialogue (SD) agenda. We support the continued good work being done under the “Understanding for Security” (U4S) motto.

Norway has the understanding that climate change will challenge all systems which depend on global security, peace, and stability. It is hindering development, eroding the resilience of populations, and transforming and redefining the global security landscape. The consequences vary from region to region, but already we see existing security hotspots getting hotter.

The subject of climate change and security is highly relevant, especially following this week’s NATO summit. During the summit, it was decided that NATO would aim to become the leading international organisation when it comes to understanding and adapting to the impact of climate change on security. We actively support NATO’s ambition to do more in this field. The security implications of climate change are also among Norway’s top priorities within our current membership in the Security Council. Increased focus and knowledge on climate issues and their impact on global security would be a meaningful objective for the OSCE partner states and a field that could facilitate cooperation on other issues as well.

While there is no automatic link between climate change and conflict, climate change exacerbates and propels existing tensions, and is often labelled as a threat multiplier. There are already signs of climate insecurity already impacting conflicts in places far from the OSCEs partner states, some examples being farmer-herder conflicts in the Sahel – or extremist organizations exploiting grievances intensified by climate change in the Lake Chad basin, the Horn of Africa and in Iraq. However, these issues pale in comparison to the risks forecasted under warming scenarios for the decades to come that might have the long-term potential to exacerbate conflicts and increase tensions in the OSCE region as well. In the Euro-Atlantic area we have already tackled security issues originating from regions more vulnerable to climate change, namely migration and the terrorist threat.

We should rethink and adapt our approaches to preventing conflict and sustaining peace. Integrating climate-related security risks into our security and conflict analysis, planning and response is an important part of this. Ensuring that our mechanisms and efforts are “climate proof” and conflict sensitive, is another.

Another aspect that is important to highlight is that there are many intersections between climate and security, women, peace and security and youth and peace and security. Both women and youth are often disproportionately affected by climate-related security risks, but they can also serve as key agents of change in climate change adaptation and mitigation.

We hope that the SD will be a forum where we can discuss the potential security risks connected to climate change. As a suggestion we should consider whether expert group meetings with external experts could be held to enhance our common understanding of the destabilising impact of climate change on the political-military area of our partner states. Perhaps there could be avenues to explore in terms of conventional arms control mechanisms potentially being used to address climate change issues such as promoting the reduction and demolishment of some of the most climate unfriendly military equipment.

We sincerely hope to freely discuss ways to incorporate climate change considerations into the full spectrum of our work in the future. 

Thank you.