Arria: Sea-level rise

Statement by Deputy Permanent Representative Odd-Inge Kvalheim in the Arria-formula meeting on Sea-level rise and the implications for international peace and security, 18 October 2021.

Let me thank Vietnam for putting this timely issue on the agenda. As our excellent briefers have clearly underlined, sea-level rise is both a present and future danger. Today’s debate serves as yet another reminder that in context of changing global climate, “security” goes well beyond traditional notions of hard security.

The IPCC special report informs us about how global climate change, rising sea levels, combined with high tides, storm surges and flooding, will increasingly put coastal and island communities at risk. Rising sea levels threaten territorial integrity and in some cases, the existence of many of the low-lying and small island developing States, creating risks of uncertainty and instability also at the regional and international levels. Thirty-one million people living in river deltas are at high risk of flooding and other impacts from extreme weather events and climate change.

While the impacts will always be context specific, and will require tailored responses, any coordinated multilateral response will need the following:

- strengthening of data collection and early warning systems, to improve our collective understanding and assessment of impacts and risks,

- adequate resources to assess and provide recommendations for addressing the implications, including anticipatory measures and humanitarian assistance,

- Integrating adaptation and resilience strategies in all peace and security efforts,

- a coordinated UN approach that builds on existing initiatives such as support to the realization of the S.A.M.O.A Pathway, and

* meaningful cooperation with regional and national actors, as well as civil society to ensure that the UN benefits from local expertise, and complement regional efforts.

The countries most exposed to climate risks, are also among the “least insurable”. Meaning: we must also address the financing gap. Norway as one of the largest donors to the Green Climate Fund is working actively to facilitate easier access to the fund’s resources.

The SIDS and other affected countries are 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. The aim is to assess early-warning indicators and provide concrete recommendations for action to address these risks. We wholeheartedly support this.

Our first line of defense is – and will always remain – achieving the Paris targets on mitigation, on adaptation and on finance. As we head into COP26, we must raise our ambitions and take action. But also rethink our approaches to peace and security, to ensure they are preventive, not only reactive.