Climate change is a reality. This October, the biggest international arctic expedition of all times returned to its homeport Bremerhaven 6 days ahead of schedule. The simple reason: Where in the past eternal ice made it difficult to maneuver, there now was only the open sea. The arctic temperature is more than 7 degrees higher than it was 100 years ago. This has vast implications. For example: floods, tropical storms, and droughts around the world.
This shows: Climate change is far more than an environmental issue. It has crucial implications for the economy, peace and stability, security, and migration policy. It has therefore become one of the determining factors of foreign policy at large.
The impact of climate change is real, not least in Africa:
It is estimated that 2 to 9 percent of Africa’s GDP is spent on mitigating the impact of climate disasters already today. In the Sahel, the situation is even more dramatic.
In 2019, over 3 million people were newly displaced in Sub-Saharan Africa. This is the highest figure ever recorded for this region.
Nearly 2 million people in Subsahara Africa are permanently living in prolonged displacement due to natural disasters.
If we fail to act now, we will have to face the consequences tomorrow.
That is why Germany supports initiatives such as the Platform on Disaster Displacement. It is crucial that we work together multilaterally to ease the effects of climate change.
We first and foremost have to reach a general consensus what implications climate change has. It has been a big success in that regard to include a strong reference to disaster displacement due to climate change in the Global Compact for Migration.
Also, we have to support projects on the ground. As Federal Foreign Office, we are funding, for example, projects led by the International Organization for Migration to provide shelter for individuals displaced by flooding or other disasters.
We also have to improve risk assessment and early warning. This will help us better understand the interplay between climate change and security. That’s a precondition for reacting promptly and appropriately to new security threats. As Federal Foreign Office we have so far put a particular focus on the Sahel, the Horn of Africa and the Lake Chad region.
What else should be the priorities for the way forward?
First: it is crucial to make sure existing policies and frameworks such as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction or the Agenda 2030 are implemented.
Second, it is important that countries include persons, who are internally displaced because of disasters, in their national legislation so that they receive adequate protection and assistance.
Third, we need to strengthen climate change mitigation and adaptation action through sustainable development projects. In doing so, we can build on the mechanisms of the Paris Agreement.
And finally, we need to step up our efforts within the external dimension of the proposed EU Pact for Asylum and Migration. Climate change as a driver of displacement has to be part and parcel of our common European approach.
This requires an enhanced and comprehensive partnership with African countries of origin and transit; but also: with African countries hosting large numbers of refugees.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Climate change is a common threat to all of us. No country can withdraw from the effects of global warming. People lose their entire existence because of disasters. The political stability of whole regions is at stake. To work together to ease the effects of climate change is therefore a question of humanity, but also of political rationality.
The video of this keynote can be watched here: