Koenders: ‘Climate change threatens our safety’

‘Not only does global warming threaten our environment, it also seriously undermines our security,’ foreign minister Bert Koenders said at a meeting of Commonwealth countries in Malta today, just before the international climate conference convenes in Paris. Mr Koenders had been invited to the meeting in connection with the Dutch Presidency of the EU, starting in January.

‘The problem of climate change is broadly acknowledged, but its impact on security is not yet fully recognised,’ the minister said after a meeting with French President François Hollande to discuss climate change and a meeting of small island developing states (SIDS). Mr Koenders believes it is crucial that security implications take centre stage in the climate debate, as climatological changes are often a root cause of dangerous social tensions.

‘Persistent drought, heatwaves, flooding and extreme storms are increasingly contributing to social unrest, migration and conflict,’ he said. ‘So it’s high time that the international community make a habit of looking towards the future, and take timely action against the security impacts of climate change.’

‘On the eve of the negotiations in Paris, it’s clearer than ever how much is at stake,’ the minister said. ‘The international community can no longer leave individual countries to their own devices. Floods, hurricanes and rising sea levels show no respect for international borders. Just as migration, radicalisation and political instability, too, can quickly erupt into international problems.’

Mr Koenders emphasised that the Netherlands will continue to play a leading role at international level. ‘As a particularly vulnerable, low-lying delta country, we understand the problems of climate change better than anyone. We have a great deal of expertise in water management that we’re keen to share with other countries.’

Earlier this month, the Netherlands organised the first Planetary Security Conference at the Peace Palace in The Hague. The conference is to become an annually recurring event underscoring the importance of international collaboration in relation to climate.