Statement by Ambassador Byrne Nason at Arria Meeting on Sea-level Rise
Statement18 October 2021
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for bringing us together today for this important discussion.
I would also like to thank Mr. Khiari, Ms. Masson-Delmotte, and Ms. Pasisi for their excellent, though I have to say, very stark briefings today.
As we have just heard, the recent IPCC report demonstrates what the future holds if we do not act. Climate change is an issue that we believe the entire multilateral system should be addressing, working within their mandates, to mitigate and adapt to this crisis. If anything is clear from what we have heard today, this crisis is certainly not going away.
Deepening the Council’s understanding of the links between climate change and international peace and security is a priority for Ireland. The Open Debate on this topic, which other speakers have referred to, was held last month during Ireland’s Presidency of the Council and illustrated broad acknowledgement that climate change is exacerbating conflict and insecurity globally. It is clear also that climate change is having a severe impact on women and girls.
We see it as essential that the Security Council utilises the tools it has at its disposal in delivering on its core mandate to address this issue. While to date the Council has rightly focussed on specific country and regional situations, today’s timely debate highlights the current and future threats due to sea-level rise.
680 million people live in low-lying coastal areas, in more than 70 states. Those statistics speak for themselves. And we have just heard that the numbers are growing.
People will be directly affected by sea-level rise, with many more impacted through the displacement of people, through food insecurity, and through the lack of access to basic resources.
As with so many of the critical issues we discuss here at the UN, the impact of sea-level rise will be disproportionately be felt by people in low-lying areas and developing countries, particularly small island developing states (SIDS).
As an island state, Ireland is very aware of the urgency of the issue of sea-level rise. We have worked with our SIDS partners to build resilience and to amplify their voice in important multilateral fora. We recognise the need to address the specific vulnerabilities of SIDS. This was achieved in the 2030 Agenda, and a further important step will be to ensure that the international financial institutions too are able to take account of this vulnerability.
Legal aspects of the impact of sea-level rise are also crucial in our view. Further study of this area in relation to international law is timely in light of the various and unprecedented environmental challenges, particularly facing low-lying states and small island states.
Ireland certainly welcomes that this topic is currently on the agenda of the International Law Commission. We look forward to engaging on issues related to law of the sea, related to statehood, and to issues related to the protection of persons affected by sea-level rise.
The ILC’s work will play a significant role in helping to identify gaps in the legal framework as we respond to the challenges which sea-level rise brings. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea will be clearly a key consideration in any response.
To conclude Mr. Chairman, Ireland wishes again to stress again the importance of the Security Council recognizing its responsibility, and addressing how climate change is affecting its ability to deliver on its own mandate. This is why our Taoiseach on 23 September announced our intention to lead discussions on a thematic resolution of the Security Council on climate and security.
Action now to deepen our understanding of how climate change is impacting on insecurity and conflict is essential if we are to be able to begin to respond effectively.
Thank you Mr. Chairman.