The United Nations Security Council, the only body of the UN that can adopt binding coercive measures, has so far been reluctant to tackle climate change. But as the impacts of climate change on peace and security become ever more apparent, questions of whether the Security Council should and will address the security implications of climate change more directly in the future become increasingly pertinent.
Today’s Security Council dynamics, however, are characterized by deepening divisions and a narrowing scope of collective activity. In this context, the steps that the Security Council can or should take to address the peace and security implications of climate change need careful examination and justification. While recognizing the limits of Council action, this backgrounder examines how climate change and security risks trigger the Security Council’s mandate for action, and what action the Council could and should be expected to take in response.
Janani Vivekananda is a Senior Advisor at adelphi where she leads research and programming on climate change and security. Published widely on this topic, she is a lead author of the 2015 report A New Climate for Peace. Adam Day is UNU-CPR’s Director of Programmes and the lead author of Conflict Prevention in the Era of Climate Change: Adapting the UN to Climate-Security Risks. Susanne Wolfmaier is a Project Manager at adelphi, specializing on climate change, peace and security. In her work she focuses on policy responses to climate-fragility risks.