President Ali urges UNSC to prioritise climate and food security in conflict resolution efforts

The content originally appeared on: Caribbean News Service

President Dr Irfaan Ali underscored the critical need for a paradigm shift in addressing the nexus between climate change, food security, and international peace and security.

The Guyanese Head of State, who chaired the 9547th United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Meeting, said that “as challenges to global stability evolve, so must our understanding and approach to effectively confront them”.

Tuesday’s meeting, which was held under the theme: “Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Climate, Food Security and Conflict”, took place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

In his address, President Ali pointed to the vicious cycle of instability and the repercussions of these issues.

He warned that with current projections, “Climate change is expected to grow significantly as a driver of conflict. We recognise too that armed conflict can induce food insecurity and the threat of famine…As we gather here today, an estimated 149 million Africans are facing acute food insecurity, an increase of 12 million people from a year ago. This equates to a risk category of three or higher: crisis, emergency and catastrophe.”

President Ali stressed that some 122 million people facing acute food insecurity are in conflict-affected countries.

He also spoke about Haiti and its “internal conflict being a key contributor to food insecurity and climate insecurity that ultimately leads to governance issues”.

In explaining the devastating impact of armed conflict on agricultural production and land degradation, he cited examples such as Ukraine, where farmlands, worth billions of dollars, have been destroyed.

In addition to the distinct macro issues, he spoke of other concerns, including a lack of insurance policies for medium-sized and small-scale farmers.

“That is millions of families we are sending to the poverty line as a result of war. We don’t speak about it. We don’t calculate it. We don’t put it in the equation, but this is the reality.”

President Ali also drew attention to the environmental toll of conflicts, including deforestation and pollution as he explained that across all conflict areas assessed, forest loss increased by 10% in 2020.

This, he explained, amounts to 3.2 million hectares based on the woody biomass loss in tropical areas only, which results in the inability to store approximately 1.1 megatons of CO2, almost four times the total emissions from the UK in the same year.

Amidst these challenges, he urged the Security Council to adopt a more holistic approach to conflict resolution, one that considers the profound effects on food and climate security.

“We believe strongly that a very targeted approach must be adopted. The Security Council must take into account the consequential effects on food security and climate in addressing the issues of conflict and war, and these issues are intricately linked to the rule of law, democracy and governance. They are all interconnected.”

The President called on the UNSC to be bold and to incorporate the necessary measures to effectively deal with climate and food security.

“We must be bold enough. We have the ability we have the political will. We must now incorporate measures at the UN Security Council to deal with climate and food as it relates to wars and conflict.”

UNSC has the primary responsibility of maintaining peace and security in the world. There are five permanent members, including the USA, China, Russia, the UK, and France; and 10 non-permanent members, including Algeria, Ecuador, Japan, Malta, Mozambique, the Republic of Korea, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, Switzerland and Guyana.

Guyana assumed the rotating Presidency of the council on February 1.

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