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Joint Nordic Statement on Implications of Sea Level Rise for International Security

Chairs, Briefers, ladies and gentlemen,


I have the honour to speak on behalf of the five Nordic countries: Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and my own country Denmark.


We commend Malta, in partnership with Nauru and Germany, for hosting today’s important meeting. As the briefers have outlined, sea level rise poses a clear risk to peace and security worldwide. According to the IPCC’s special report on the Ocean and Cryosphere, 680 million people live in low-lying coastal areas – a number that could rise to 950 million by 2030. The impacts of sea level rise on the livelihoods and security of these populations are real and immediate – and must be high on the agenda for multilateral action on the nexus between climate and security.


Threats emanating from climate change take many shapes and forms. For many low-lying and small island developing states, they take a very concrete and imminent shape: As an existential threat of being flooded due to sea level rise. And in places such as the coastal states of Western Africa rising sea levels increasingly cause villages to be flooded and agricultural land to be damaged. This intensifies the existing pressure on scarce resources, which multiplies the risk of conflict and displacement; with clear and direct implications for international peace and security


Let me share three reflections on this issue:


Firstly, climate change, incl. sea level rise, must be addressed as a complex security issue that requires a nexus-approach; taking into account climate, humanitarian, development and peacebuilding issues. We fully support the Security Council’s strengthened focus on the interactions between climate and security. Further, we encourage a regular report by the Secretary General on climate-related security risks, including as caused by sea level rise.


Second, we must accelerate action on climate adaptation now to avoid and minimize the impacts of sea level rise on peoples and economies. While fragile regions and vulnerable communities bear the brunt of the negative effects of climate change, finding solutions is a collective responsibility. It requires cooperation, and a renewed commitment to multilateralism and solidarity. We must strengthen cooperation between all relevant partners, including civil society, weather services and regional and sub-regional actors to make better use of, for example, climate-sensitive analysis and early warning systems. The findings of these must then be made accessible and understandable to those affected on the ground.


Finally, sea level rise will be particularly challenging for small island states and countries with a significant part of their population and infrastructure placed in low-lying coastal areas. There may be a need to look at the global support architecture to address the increased risks in these countries. Our current set-up may not be fully fit-for purpose. We must increase climate financing for adaptation in these vulnerable regions. The Nordic countries are at the forefront of international efforts to scale up climate finance for adaptation. This underpins our commitment to addressing the adverse consequences of climate change and overcoming the obstacles it poses to sustainable development and peace.


As we continue to respond to the crises unfolding across the world, we must ensure that we build back better and greener for a sustainable, climate resilient and peaceful future in full support of the SDGs and the Paris Agreement.


Thank you.


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