Statement by H.E. Mr. Andrejs Pildegovičs Permanent Representative of the Republic of Latvia at the Open Debate of the Security Council on “Addressing the impacts of climate-related disasters on international peace and security” 25 January 2019

04.11.2019. 11:26

Mr. President,

I thank the Dominican Republic Presidency of the Security Council for organizing this debate. The perspective from your country, directly affected by climate change, gives us a particular sense of urgency.    

I also thank all briefers Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo, UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner,  Pavel Kabat, Chief Scientist at the World Meteorological Organization,  and Lindsay Getschel of the Stimpson Center’s Environmental Security Program for useful updates in this regard. 

Latvia aligns itself with the statement delivered by the European Union.

Mr. President,

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time, faced by all countries. Undoubtedly, it also affects geopolitical stability and security, acting as a threat multiplier especially for the most vulnerable regions – in some cases reinforcing the conflicts. Climate-related disasters threaten populations and stability of the whole regions, particularly countries in Central America and Caribbean, as well as South Central and Southeast Asia. We are well aware of the particular vulnerability of many small island developing states to climate change and sea-level rise.   

Latvia welcomes the UN Security Council discussing this issue, and we believe that climate-related security risks should be mainstreamed in Council’s conflict prevention and peacebuilding efforts. Deepening our understanding of the implications of climate change on international security will help countries and individuals in stepping up climate action.

We also applaud the UN Secretary-General for his strong commitment to put climate change high on the UN agenda, particularly this year in preparing for the UN climate summit in September.  

The effects of climate change are becoming increasingly evident and more severe. Past summer we again experienced record-breaking heat all around the world. Like other countries, Latvia is experiencing the effects of climate change. Records of average air temperature in Latvia show a long-term trend of warming. Every storm causes great distress and dramatic flooding to the people living in the coastal regions, and threat of coastal erosion along the Baltic Sea could intensify in the future.  

Only with joint multilateral efforts and cooperation it is possible to combat climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and build resilience and better preparedness to the negative impacts of climate change, including more frequent climate-related disasters.  

Climate action has a clear interlinkage with the implementation of the Agenda 2030.  Latvia is strongly convinced that reaching Sustainable Development Goals is the ultimate prevention agenda, as they address the drivers and root causes of instability and conflict. Therefore, investing in human dignity, eradicating poverty, fostering climate resilience and promoting economic and social progress will reduce the incidence of conflict, instability and despair.

Mr. President,  

Paris Agreement provides a clear guidance on what we must do before it is too late. Latvia is committed to the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement.

Latvia's obligations will be to implement the commitment made by the European Union’s nationally determined contribution to collectively reduce GHG emissions by at least 40% by 2030 compared to 1990. Latvia is now working on the National long-term low carbon Development Strategy for 2050 and on National Plan for Adaptation to Climate Change until 2030. Moreover, Latvia is developing a detailed National Energy and Climate plan 2021-2030 that will set measures to achieve targets established until 2030.

At the regional level, Latvia, currently holding the presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States, prioritizes dialogue and cooperation in the field of climate adaptation and low emission development. We will promote effective implementation of the Paris Agreement in this framework. We will also focus on the problems of pollution of the Baltic Sea. Chemical pollution and plastic waste has emerged as one of the growing threats to the Baltic Sea basin ecosystem over the past decade, which calls for an immediate solution.

Latvia strongly believes that mitigation and adaptation to climate change, especially finding concrete solutions, is a common responsibility at all levels. However, it is critical to build trust among different stakeholders, especially to send a strong signal to the private sector to advance innovation and investment in the green economy. It will require many changes in sectoral policies, and above all, in peoples’ mindset.  

Last December, UN Climate Conference in Katowice, Poland, adopted a balanced package of decisions. It is our urgent task to fully implement them in order to operationalize the Paris Agreement. Now, in anticipation of the UN climate action summit, to quote the UN Secretary-General: “We are at a defining moment”. We truly are, and the survival of our planet is at stake. This is the issue we all must care for deeply, and act for future generations.   

Thank you.