Delivered by: His Excellency Majid Al Suwaidi, Ambassador and Director-General of the 28th Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
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Thank you, Mr President.
Allow me to begin by thanking you, Your Excellency, and Malta for convening this important Debate. I also want to thank the UN Secretary-General, Mr Antonio Guterres, for his consistent leadership on this issue. And I’m grateful to Mr Csaba Kőrösi, and Mr Bogdan Aurescu, and Ms Koral Piasi, for this insightful briefing that you gave us today.
Nowhere is the urgency and complexity of the climate crisis more evident than in our seas and oceans. Today, the Security Council is listening to the testimonies of people living on the front lines of climate change. They are telling us that their security, livelihoods, and identities are already under threat – long before temperature rises have risen to 1.5 degrees . Climate change is already having a devastating impact on people, livelihoods, and lives today. The world cannot look away.
Warming, rising, and acidifying water poses an existential threat, especially to low-lying countries and coastal communities. Many territories are poised to become uninhabitable even before becoming permanently inundated. We must respond to this crisis with unity, and solidarity, and with action. We know that we are presently off-track for the Paris goals of 1.5 degrees and meaningfully coping capacity for climate impacts.
I serve as Director-General and Special Representative of COP28, and I’m joining you today because the United Arab Emirates recognises the urgent need for a coordinated response across the multilateral system. We cannot neglect any element of the climate crisis, including its clear implications for international peace and security. Our obligation – with each body contributing within its mandate – is to reverse the current trajectories with inclusive, effective, and responsive climate action.
Accordingly, I would like to emphasise four points that should inform the development of a shared response to the perils we are discussing today.
First, the potential consequences of sea-level rise – disputes over resources, the displacement of millions, and serious implications for sovereignty and statehood. This must be at the heart of maintaining international peace and security, and we applaud Malta for bringing this issue to the Council’s attention, but we also recognise that it is a response to the gap in this body’s engagement. Regular Secretary-General reporting, based on scientific data and analysis, on the risks and impacts of climate change on international peace and security would enable context-specific and evidence-based approaches by the Council. It would also help sustain the Council’s focus and ensure that it complements ongoing efforts across the UN system.
Second, we must catalyse greater and higher quality climate finance for fragile and vulnerable countries. There is a glaring international underinvestment in food and water systems, as well as infrastructure resilience. Reform of the International Financial Institutions and Multilateral Development Banks is a critical dimension of our response, enabling them to run towards – instead of away from – destabilising climate threats. The Loss and Damage Facility agreed at COP27 must also be operationalised. This is the year to politically recognise the financing gap for fragility and to close it. The peace dividends of these actions will be immediate and enduring.
Third, early action work by humanitarian actors gives us a range of proven tools to reduce the security impacts of sea-level rise. It also provides an opportunity to understand the implications on those most vulnerable, such as women and children, and ensure inclusive response from the start. Accordingly, the UAE is fully supportive of the Secretary-General’s Early Warning for All initiative. We also underscore the urgent need for an annual investment plan, increased data collection, and integration with anticipatory action systems.
Fourth, we must acknowledge and address the unprecedented legal and policy challenges posed by sea-level rise – that includes ensuring that the multilateral system offers adequate solutions. In this regard, the UAE encourages the International Law Commission’s continued work on sea-level rise, especially its implications for the law of the sea, sovereignty, and statehood. Similarly, we also recognise the important efforts by Pacific small island developing states to advance the normative legal debate on sea-level rise.
In conclusion, Mr. President, I would like to reaffirm the UAE’s commitment here in the Council, and as the incoming president of COP28, and in all for a, to listen to affected communities and respond with ambition, and urgency, and with action, which leaves no country and no community behind. Preventing and addressing insecurity is one of the most important investments we can make as the international community. I thank you very much, Mr. President.