GA: Implications of Sea Level Rise for International Security

Statement delivered by Deputy Permanent Representative Odd-Inge at the digital side event Virtual Implications of Sea Level Rise for International Security: Bridging the Gap between Science, Legal, Security and Political, 9 May 2022.

Let me first thank Vanessa, in partnership with Antje and Margo for organizing today’s event on this very important issue. And let me also thank the other contributors to this panel, who have set the stage for our discussions.

Norway attaches great importance to the topic of climate and security and has made it one of our main priorities as a member of the Security Council. We know that the adverse effects of climate change, such as extreme weather events and sea level rise, are becoming more frequent and severe, and that their effects have impacts that go far beyond the environmental realm.

The SIDS and other affected countries remain strong and consistent voices for collective responses to climate-related security risks. This includes calls for regular reports by the Secretary-General and the appointment of a Special Envoy, in order to assess early-warning indicators and provide guidance and concrete recommendations for action to address these risks.

We wholeheartedly support this, and we are glad that Fiji and Chair of PIF is also here today to offer further valuable insights and first-hand knowledge on today’s topic.

Let me also stress that Norway is pleased that the International Law Commission has commenced its work on this. We’re very happy that Professor Nilufer Oral from the ILC is part of today’s panel discussion, offering her valuable insights and expertise.

As our excellent hosts and briefers have clearly underlined, sea-level rise is both a present and future danger for many countries. It is a no-brainer, as Antje said in her introductory remarks. Global climate change, rising sea levels, combined with high tides, storm surges and flooding, will increasingly put coastal and island communities at risk, and in some cases, threaten the very existence of low-lying and small island developing States. Norway recently co-hosted a meeting and photo exhibition with the International Federation of the Red Cross and the Norwegian Red Cross discussing a report on this very issue.

It is important to underline that the relationship between the impacts of climate change and security is not linear nor pre-determined – and often not direct. To understand how a particular context or community is affected, we must take into consideration the many interrelated pathways these impacts can take. Indirectly, climate change does contribute to increased conflict. There are a variety of context factors — in particular socio-economic conditions, governance, and political factors — that interact and play a key role in translating climate change into conflict risks.

This has been our focus as co-chairs the Independent Expert Group of Members of the Security Council on Climate and Security together with Kenya: we are trying to bring more context specific information on contexts and themes to the Council Members, to show the agenda’s relevance across regions and better unpack what “security” can encompass – like food security, vulnerability or management of scarce natural resources.

The impacts of climate change will always be context specific and thus require tailored responses. However, any sustainable response will need the following:

  • Strong data collection and early warning systems, to inform our collective understanding and assessment of impacts and risks,
  • Adequate resources to assess and provide recommendations for addressing these implications, including anticipatory measures and humanitarian assistance.
  • Integration of adaptation and resilience strategies into all peace, security and stability efforts.
  • And not the least: meaningful cooperation between multilateral, regional and national actors, as well as with civil society and academia, to ensure that multilateral efforts benefits from local expertise, build on existing initiatives, and complement national and regional efforts.

An added challenge for the countries most exposed to climate risks, is that they are also among the “least insurable”. This means that we must also find ways to address the financing gap. As one of the largest donors to the Green Climate Fund, Norway is working actively to facilitate easier access to the fund’s resources.

In context of conflict and crises, it will be important to also ensure that investments in mitigation and adaptation are managed in such a way that they don’t amplify pre-existing tensions and conflict drivers, but rather contribute to community resilience and build social cohesion and trust.


Today’s side event serves as yet another reminder that in context of changing global climate, the term “security” goes well beyond traditional notions of hard security.

We must rethink our approaches to security, by investing in the ability of communities to adapt and respond to climate shocks and crises. This will reduce risks, and in turn break the cycle of short-term responses, shifting to sustainable solutions.

It is clear: taking action now can secure our future.

Thank you.