Remarks at a UN Security Council Arria-Formula Meeting on Rising Sea Levels and Implications for International Peace and Security

Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis
Senior Advisor for Special Political Affairs
New York, New York
October 18, 2021


Thank you, Mr. President. I first wish to thank Vietnam for organizing today’s discussion, which is an important follow-on to last month’s Security Council open debate on climate and security. I also want to thank our briefers for providing their expertise, perspectives, and recommendations on rising sea level’s impact on international peace and security.

Colleagues, President Biden made clear in his speech to the General Assembly last month that the United States is committed to addressing climate change, lest we suffer its ever-worsening impacts, including rising seas. We are taking meaningful steps to demonstrate this. We will work with our Congress to quadruple public financing of international climate efforts by 2024 to assist developing nations address this crisis. Our financing includes funds for adaptation efforts, which are essential for nations facing the immediate effects of rising sea levels.

The Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change’s Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate projected that by 2050, nearly one billion people will live in low-lying coastal zones threatened by rising seas. The global security impacts cannot be ignored, including disrupted livelihoods, food and water insecurity, and physical displacement. This is not just an immediate danger to low-lying coastal areas. Climate-related impacts further stress vulnerable communities, increasing the risk of conflict and displacement in the absence of effective adaptation and prevention efforts.

For our part, President Biden has instructed U.S. government agencies to examine the impact of climate change on migration and forced displacement, and the resulting implications for international security. We encourage other nations to consider this whole-of-government approach. We also recognize, as other speakers have noted, that rising sea levels can pose substantial threats to coastal communities and island nations around the world. We are committed to working together to address the threat of sea level rise, including by exploring ways to promote our common goal of appropriately protecting maritime zones from challenge in a manner we can all support as consistent with international law.

COP26 commences less than two weeks from today. The United States again urges all countries to come to Glasgow with national commitments consistent with the Paris Agreement’s goal of pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The United States supports the tremendous work the United Nations system is undertaking on climate change. As Secretary Blinken underscored during the Council’s September 24 meeting on this topic, we firmly believe the Security Council has a critical role to play in addressing this crisis’s impact on international peace and security. This can and should include tangible steps, including UN peacekeeping and special political missions consistently incorporating climate change into their planning and implementation, and further integrating climate change analysis into Security Council-mandated missions’ conflict mediation and prevention work.

The United States welcomes the opportunity to take part in today’s meeting and encourages Council members to consider convening additional climate and security-related meetings in the weeks and months ahead.

Thank you.