RELEASE: United Nations Security Council debates Sea-Level Rise

UNSC, New York, February 15, 2023— Pacific Islands Forum Members joined the open debate at the United Nations Security Council this week regarding implications of sea-level rise to international peace and security.

On behalf of the Forum, His Excellency Ambassador Viliami Va’inga Tone of Tonga reiterated that climate change continues to be the single greatest existential threat facing the Blue Pacific, with Pacific Leaders declaring a “Climate Emergency” in 2022.

Ambassador Tone highlighted the importance of preserving and maintaining maritime zones established in accordance with the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

While welcoming statements from States and organisations endorsing the PIF Declaration on Preserving Maritime Zones in the face of Climate Change-Related Sea-Level Rise, Forum Members once again extended the call to the international community to join the Declaration.

Her Excellency Ambassador Margo Deiye PR of Nauru offered remarks as Co-Chair of the Group of Friends on Climate and Security. Ambassador Deiye emphasised climate change as a multidimensional crisis and stressed the importance of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees in accordance with the Paris Agreement.

Recognising the relationship between climate change and peace, Ambassador Deiye highlighted the importance of the UN Secretary-General’s Peacebuilding Fund in developing effective and sustainable peacebuilding mechanisms including collaboration between different UN bodies.

Ambassador Deiye called on the Security Council to consider regular reporting by the UN Secretary-General on the security implications of climate change, the appointment of a Special Representative for Climate Security, and implementing measures to fast-track women’s full, equal and meaningful participation in preventing and addressing climate-affected conflicts in relation to sea-level rise.

Her Excellency Ambassador Ilana Seid of Palau made remarks as Chair of the Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS). Ambassador Seid emphasised the real-life impacts of sea-level rise, which has forced some Pacific states including Kiribati and Tuvalu to take “severe measures” to address its impacts.

Ambassador Seid underlined further actions for the Security Council, including supporting the initiative for an advisory opinion of the ICJ on States’ obligations regarding climate change, and inviting the Security Council to travel to the Pacific Islands to witness first-hand the impacts of sea-level rise on the people of the Pacific.


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