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Statement by H.E. Mr. Sven Jürgenson, Permanent Representative of Estonia to the UN at the United Nations Security Council Open Arria Formula Meeting on Security Implications of Climate Change: Sea-level Rise, 10 April, 2017

10.04.2017

Statement by H.E. Mr. Sven Jürgenson, Permanent Representative of Estonia to the UN at the

United Nations Security Council Open Arria Formula Meeting on

Security Implications of Climate Change: Sea-level Rise

New York, 10 April, 2017

Mr President,

Thank you for convening this timely and important meeting. Estonia aligns itself with the statement delivered by the European Union. 

Climate change and its impacts create problems that go beyond a purely environmental dimension – the loss of habitat and jobs through the rising sea levels, the acidification of the oceans, and changes in marine environment destroy the income sources and the traditional lifestyle of people in coastal regions and states. This by itself can create severe difficulties to the people’s livelihoods, but if its socio-economic effect is added to the already fragile areas, the implications of such changes in the environment can have tangible security implications.

Estonia is fully committed to the fight against climate change, with particular focus on the situation in the least developed countries and small island developing states. Among other cooperation activities, Estonia has supported climate change mitigation and adaptation projects carried out in the Pacific Small Island Developing States. It is important to acknowledge that SIDS are on the front lines of climate change. For them what is at stake is not merely the economic losses, but their very survival, as rising sea levels will leave their territories permanently underwater. The global implications that this would have, not to mention the existential threat to these countries, should instil a sense of urgency to the international community to tackle the problem of climate change effectively.

We need to realize that climate-induced sea-level rise is a slow but ongoing process. We should therefore strengthen our efforts to assist the industries and economic sectors that are vulnerable to climate change in adapting to the changing environment; in finding innovative solutions or diversifying their activities. We need to draw our attention to sustainable economic development that would help prevent the displacement of people caused by climate change and possible tensions that could arise from this.      

In this regard, the upcoming high level United Nations Ocean Conference in June this year is very topical and of great importance in drawing attention to the effects of climate change, its security implications and the importance of implementing the Sustainable Development Goal 14. Furthermore, attention needs to be paid to the effective implementation of the existing legal instruments, including UNCLOS and the related agreements. 

Mr President, at the COP 21 United Nations climate change conference in Paris, Estonia pledged to contribute 1 million euros annually until the year 2020 for financing international climate cooperation. We believe that the best way to tackle climate change, including sea level rise and overall changes in marine environment is through partnerships, cooperation, technology transfer and capacity building in areas that are most affected and vulnerable.

Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the international community to assume the necessary leadership in effectively addressing climate change, and to ensure that the disastrous consequences of rising sea levels are averted.

Thank you.

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