Remarks at a UN Security Council Arria-Formula Meeting on Climate Change and Security Risks (via VTC)

Michael Barkin
Senior Policy Advisor
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
April 22, 2020


Thank you, Nicolas, and thank you to our presenters for their briefings.

The United States shares concerns over security challenges and factors attributed to instability and conflict. We note that these factors include extreme weather, natural disasters, energy access, climate change, and other ecological challenges, and that they can increase poverty, food scarcity, and displacement, especially in vulnerable states. As Secretary Pompeo has affirmed, the United States “will continue to work with our global partners to enhance resilience to the impacts of climate change and prepare for and respond to natural disasters. Just as we have in the past, the United States will continue to research, innovate, and grow our economy while reducing emissions and extending a helping hand to our friends and partners around the globe.”

The United States supports a balanced approach that promotes economic growth and improves energy security while protecting the environment with affordable and reliable clean energy technologies. This includes sharing voluntarily, and on mutually-agreed terms, world-class knowledge, data and tools to help countries predict, prepare for, and adapt to change. One example is through our SERVIR initiative developed by NASA and USAID. SERVIR, the Spanish word for “to serve,” provides critical information and support services to help governments forecasters, climatologists, and other researchers across the globe track environmental changes, evaluate ecological threats, and rapidly respond to and assess damage from natural disasters. The program currently reaches more than 45 countries with information provided by satellites and geospatial technologies to help manage these risks.

On a number of other fronts, the United States supports international activities to protect natural ecosystems, increase resilience, and respond to natural disasters. We continue to be the world’s number one provider of disaster relief. We also fund various international projects at the intersection between conflict prevention, peacebuilding and disaster response. This includes funding for projects that address complex crises and human insecurity. As we discuss concrete objectives today, we note that in times of constrained budgets that we all presently face, it will be difficult to support initiatives that require additional financial support. We recommend, therefore, that countries should consider voluntary donations to fund relevant initiatives where appropriate.

We should also consider partnering with programs that already exist. There are both public and private sector organizations that have analytic programs studying these very issues. Public-Private Partnerships could harness current efforts.

Finally, as we celebrate today’s 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the United States is proud of our accomplishments as a leader in promoting global stewardship. And as we face the COVID-19 pandemic, we must also call attention to the dangers of wildlife trafficking and unregulated wildlife wet markets which create risks for the emergence and spread of diseases like coronavirus. We appreciate everyone’s participation today and the collective effort to address these important issues.

Thank you.