From border disputes in the South China Sea to the ongoing conflicts and refugee crisis in Syria the world is an increasingly unstable place. Global crises like terrorism and pandemics will be amplified by climate change, undermining the UN’s ability to preserve peace and security.
Former UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) chief Christiana Figueres on Wednesday joined the race to become the new UN Secretary General (UNSG). Whoever becomes the new UNSG, they must radically reform the UN to make it fit for purpose in a climate changed world or see its core mission undermined, according to a report, United We Stand, released on Wednesday by climate change think tank, E3G.
CEO Nick Mabey says: “We need the UN more than ever – it is an important constant that transcends social and political unrest – but we need it to be fit for purpose. The new Secretary General must follow through on the major international agreements struck last year and climate proof the UN system.”
The future UNSG is under increasing pressure from countries to reform the UN systems, most recently during the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May which sought to improve systems around humanitarian aid and crisis response.
The new UNSG will need to make sure the UN can implement the three major agreements struck last year – the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals which seek to eradicate poverty, and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.
“The agreements struck last year recognise that climate change impacts all of the key objectives of the UN. By learning lessons from regimes like nuclear proliferation and terrorism, the UN can find practical ways to manage the impacts of climate change on its core missions and avoid being stuck in permanent crisis response,” says the report author Camilla Born, Policy Advisor at E3G.
The report draws lessons from the histories of other risk regimes to recommend practical reforms which could be delivered by 2020. A thorough approach to climate risk will help improve the quality of life for the most vulnerable, and reduce the risk of globally fragility. These reforms will need strong prioritization from the new UN Secretary General.