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Climate Change:
GA Panel Discussion, 19 October 2009

Special Event - Second Committee, 64th Session of the General Assembly
Panel Discussion:
Climate Change: Impacts & Threats

19 October 2009
New York, NY

The Secretary-General’s report "Climate Change and Its Possible Security Implications" provides a platform for consideration of the issue in the General Assembly’s sixty-fourth session.

Threat Multiplier...

Based on the submissions made by Member States and regional and international organizations, the SG’s report identified five channels through which climate change can have security implications:

  1. impacts on human well-being of vulnerable individuals and communities;
  2. retardation of economic development;
  3. uncoordinated coping through population migration and/or conflict over scarce water, land or other resources;
  4. displacement of whole populations through sea-level rise and consequent statelessness;
  5. changes in availability of or access to internationally shared resources, e.g., transboundary waters.

In most cases, climate change acts as a “threat multiplier”, compounding underlying stresses.

Threat Minimizers...

The Report focuses in the first instance on measures which governments and the international community can take to prevent climate change’s becoming a security threat – so-called “threat minimizers”.

These include:

  1. strong action on climate change mitigation and adaptation,
  2. support to sustainable development,
  3. and strengthening governance institutions, in particular, those for conflict resolution.

Addressing the Possible Implications for Security

Where impacts nevertheless appear likely, the international community needs to be prepared to address the possible implications for security.

Areas identified include:

  • strengthening the international legal framework governing loss of sovereign territory and population relocation;
  • the possibility of large-scale climate-induced migration;
  • the need to strength cooperative agreements on shared water and other resources to withstand added stresses posed by climate change.

Panel Discussion

The panelists will share their extensive knowledge and experiences with a view to generating thought provoking discussion and dialogue amongst members of the General Assembly, recognizing that the nature and full degree of the security implications of climate change are still largely untested. Panelists will generate dialogue on the measures governments and the international community can take to prevent climate change from becoming a security threat.

Panel Discussion Details