Climate change and security: State Secretary Livia Leu attends OSCE High-Level Conference on Climate Change in Vienna

Press releases, 07.07.2023

FDFA State Secretary Livia Leu took part today in the OSCE High-Level Conference on Climate Change, focusing on the impact of climate change on security and stability in the OSCE region. This follows State Secretary Leu's participation in the UN Security Council debate on climate security on 13 June 2023, highlighting Switzerland's commitment to addressing this critical issue.

The OSCE High-Level Conference on Climate Change in Vienna focused on the impact of climate change on security and stability in the OSCE region. Three weeks after the UN Security Council discussed the link between climate change and security from a global viewpoint, this conference approached the issue from a regional perspective.

In her address, State Secretary Leu stressed that the repercussions of climate change were being felt throughout the OSCE region. She noted that climate change acts as a risk multiplier in terms of security and stability, undermining climate change mitigation and development efforts in the longer term. In this context, the OSCE can raise political awareness of the seriousness of the security challenges posed by climate change. In the face of biodiversity loss, environmental degradation and pollution, this is more important than ever. "What we are facing is a triple planetary crisis," said State Secretary Leu.

Increased cooperation and innovation as solutions
State Secretary Leu called for closer cooperation at regional and global levels. Specifically, she proposed strengthening relations with other regional organisations such as the African Union and at the global level with the United Nations Climate Security Mechanism. She also stressed the importance of leveraging scientific expertise and new technologies. "Early warning systems are vital for taking swift action ahead of extreme events and preventing more serious consequences," said State Secretary Leu. Switzerland is particularly active in this field, notably as a major contributor to the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS) initiative, which provides a funding mechanism to assist least developed countries and small island states in developing effective early warning systems. This enables countries at risk to take swift action in advance of extreme events, and thus contributes in a concrete way to the prevention of conflicts.

Environmental impact of war in Ukraine

State Secretary Leu stressed that, in addition to the immense human suffering caused by the war in Ukraine, its environmental impact illustrates the grave ecological consequences of armed conflicts. She noted the long-term consequences of the destruction of the Kakhovka Dam. This has serious implications not only for the affected region's civilian population but also for Ukraine's ability to develop climate-neutral energy systems.

Switzerland is committed to supporting Ukraine's sustainable recovery in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Lugano Principles, which were adopted at the Ukraine Recovery Conference last year as a common benchmark for the political reconstruction process.

In view of the crisis of confidence among OSCE participating states, which has been further exacerbated by the tense geopolitical situation, Switzerland remains committed to ensuring the organisation's long-term relevance as a crisis management actor in Europe. Switzerland has long viewed the OSCE as a fundamental pillar of European security, with climate change as a vitally important issue in this context.

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