Statement by His Excellency Mr. Ahmed Sareer, Permanent Representative of Maldives to the UN

UNSC Open Arria Formula Meeting

Security implications of Climate Change : Sea-level rise

United Nations, New York,10 April 2017

Thank you Chair,

Let me begin by expressing our gratitude to the delegations of Ukraine and Germany for this very timely opportunity to discuss one of the greatest challenges faced by SIDS due to climate change. Sea-level rise is indeed, a security threat to the very existence of the Small Island Developing States, like the Maldives, the entire archipelago- of 1190 islands, which is no more than 3 meters above the sea level. I thank the panelists for their useful insights.

Mr. Chairman,

The science on climate change is clear and according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its recent Assessment Report agrees with high confidence that human influence on the climate system, and recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history. These changes have had widespread impacts on human and natural systems.. The impacts associated with this global problem varies in both magnitude, frequency and types according to the geographical locations. In this sense, sea level rise poses a serious danger to low-lying coastal communities around the world including our beautiful island chains. The impacts are multifaceted. It exacerbates storm surge and coastal flooding during extreme weather events. It leads to salt-water intrusion into ground water supplies, undermining water security. It can destroy critical infrastructure, which is often located near the coast. It can also lead to the loss of territory, which has the potential to cause large scale displacement over the coming decades. All of these impacts can become destabilizing forces, both nationally and regionally, if not adequately addressed.

Mr. Chairman,

The Paris Agreement was indeed a historic milestone in the global effort to address climate change. It restored the faith on climate change multilateralism. We should recognize that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is the main international multilateral policy forum focused on addressing climate change. We also note that the current level of action reflected in countries' nationally determined contributions is not consistent with our global goal to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C. To achieve these goals, and thereby minimize the rate of sea level rise to the greatest extent possible, it is essential that countries raise their ambition.

Nonetheless, additional sea level rise is unavoidable. Our first line of defense must be to ensure that developing countries have the support they need to adapt. There has been a persistent funding gap for adaptation, which trails far behind climate finance provided for mitigation. There must be balance between funding for adaptation and mitigation, with public and grant-based sources reserved for adaptation. The established mechanism to address the loss and damage needs to be strengthened to address the impacts from extreme and slow onset events. These measures can help developing countries reduce the risks posed to their security by sea level rise. The national adaptation needs and plans in SIDS are prepared and awaiting for funding. Since most of the adaptation needs are of less profitable, the engagement of private financing is almost negligible. Hence, small economies such as my country would need predictable, sustainable and adequate financing for implementation of our adaptation projects.

Mr. Chairman,

As a useful next step, the Maldives would support a request to the Secretary-General to update the 2009 report on climate change and its possible security implications. The update should include a review of the implementation of UNGA resolution A/63/281, which invited the relevant organs of the United Nations to intensify their efforts in considering and addressing climate change, including its possible security implications. The update should also include an assessment of the United Nations System with regard to its capacity to respond to the security implications of climate change.

I Thank you.