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Climate change is increasingly viewed as the world’s greatest global security risk. However, the UN Security Council (UNSC) has not consistently or systematically addressed climate-related security risks.
In practice, the UNSC has predominantly focused on crisis management and hard security interventions but more recently the demand for investment in conflict prevention has grown rapidly. Supported by the confidence in global action on climate change generated by the Paris Agreement, there is a window of opportunity for the UNSC to take action on climate security. That is, the management of the direct and indirect consequences of inadequate or mismanaged climate mitigation and adaptation.
The UNSC’s modest investments in conflict prevention have generated considerable progress in a few discrete areas. It has established four clear functions for conflict prevention: (a) political elevation of root causes; (b) institution building and reform; (c) coordination of the UN system; and (d) mainstreaming into security operations. In taking action on climate security, the UNSC could help to strengthen climate risk-informed decision making and facilitate a coordination function on climate security across the UN system.