Seychelles National Youth Assembly partakes in Mock UNSC Debate and highlighting the threats of climate change during MFA Open Day
As part of today’s activities for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Open Day, the Ministry sought to highlight Seychelles’ efforts in securing a seat as a non-permanent member of the Security Council in 2017. As such a ‘Mock’ United Nations Security Council debate was organised and role-played by members of the Seychelles National Youth Assembly (SNYA).
These young Seychellois sought to define what the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ work means to them and moreover what Seychelles could offer given the opportunity to voice its opinion on the Security Council.
The members of the SYNA represented different members of the Security Council and the debate focused on the linkage between climate change and international peace and security in the context the Security Council acting on the issue.
The SYNA delegate representing Seychelles in the Mock session expressed the country’s view in the following statement:
I have the honour to speak on behalf of all Small Island Developing States.
The Republic of Seychelles endorses the findings of the most recent IPCC Report, and believes that it serves as a stark reminder that the world and in particular coastal and ‘small island states’ are in peril. The latest approved science points to the extreme risks posed by climate change, as well as the many opportunities that still remain to put the world on a safer and more resilient path.
In the context of today’s debate, there is no doubt of the link between climate change and security. It is already clear that climate change has a myriad of security implications and is a “threat multiplier”.
The consequences of climate change are a matter of survival for small island developing states as sea levels rise and threaten to consume the very land we stand on. For the rest of the world, conflicts are already being fuelled by a scarcity of resources, desertification, migratory pressures and energy supply tensions – set to worsen if nothing is done.
The nature of those fundamental security implications of climate change should indicate to us that the issue requires the attention of all principal organs of the United Nations.
The Security Council has recognized that it has a role in preventing conflict before it occurs, not just in facilitating its resolution afterwards. For that reason, it has recognized the necessity of addressing the root causes of conflict, unconventional security threats that can give rise to social tension and civil unrest, such as poverty, underdevelopment, competition over natural resources and HIV/AIDS. Today, we ask no less of the Council.
Make no mistake: the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change — the UNFCCC — is and must remain the primary forum for developing an international strategy to mitigate climate change, mobilize financial resources, and facilitate adaptation, planning and project implementation. The General Assembly must continue to address the links between climate change and sustainable development.
Likewise, the Security Council has a clear role in coordinating a response to the security implications of climate change.
At the end of the Mock Security Council Debate members of the SYNA read out a joint statement highlighting the youth’s aspirations that the adverse effects of climate change threatening the livelihoods of all peoples be curbed.
Joint Statement from the 11th Cohort of SYNA
We speak of climate change every day and the phrase ‘sustainable development’ is used care freely but we need to start to take further action to achieve it. For the Seychelles climate change is an everyday reality. We see it. Seychelles has experienced extreme rainfall with catastrophic effects in recent years, coastal flooding, landslides, temperatures are rising, drought becoming more severe and fish, coral reef, agriculture and bio-diversity are being affected.
We even already experience security and peace threats as a result of climate change. One of the root causes of piracy in Somalia stems from pollution and because of further aggravation by climate change, the seas off the coast of Somalia have not been able to replenish itself and its repercussion has been people looting our seas because they have lost their livelihoods. Moreover we say it is a time to come up with a definition of sustainable development because often time when an industrialised country speaks of sustainable development it is different from when a small island developing state speaks of sustainable development.
We, the youth of Seychelles, are talking of actually having a home in 50 years’ time, a home for our children, our livelihood, we are talking about environmental preservation parallel with economic development, and we are talking of eco-tourism. So we ask that we finally define sustainable development. Once we have done that we must place targets that must be achieved by countries around the world. The targets to be met, as set out in the Kyoto Protocol are limited. We need to go further. Any new post-Kyoto arrangement must attempt to make all countries cut emissions according to their abilities.
Proposals we have considered:
So, if as is being proposed a United Nations Special Rapporteur for climate change is created she/he must be looking for concrete objectives and targets. Although there have been calls for the reduction of the carbon footprint, we must see the policies and laws in place to achieve this. Are factories, airlines, and vehicle use being regulated to reduce emissions? Are penalties imposed if there are breaches of these regulations? We welcome initiatives of green energy resources, green cars and legislation geared only to climate change.
Each country should follow what some countries have already set up, that is a climate change task force with duties to strengthen policies and programmes to protect their country and the world from the impacts of climate change.
We would also ask for commitment from the international community to set up a regional climate observations system to enable better monitoring of climate variations associated with sea level rise and global warming. This will act as an early warning system and emergency response plans to prepare for further effects of climate change. We also ask that there is commitment from developed countries to transfer technology to make use of renewable energy or clean use of fossil fuels.
We accept that the United Nations has the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change but the Convention does not address issues of peace and security in its entirety. We believe that the Security Council is the right forum for discussions of climate change coupled with peace and security. With climate change comes agricultural problems, natural disasters and food scarcity. With limited resources available to a growing population, war almost seems inevitable. Today piracy affects not only the Seychelles but the world as a whole- a problem that started purely as an environmental problem now a threat to international security. We must look at the root causes of conflicts. The Security Council must think ahead. It must pre-empt what may lead to the use of force and a threat to peace and security around the world. The cost of action on climate change was far outweighed by the consequences of inaction. What may now seem as a cry by small islands to save their beautiful beaches will become global unrest in the future. This proposal will serve as an added effort to the work of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the General Assembly. The council is well positioned to incorporate that new dimension of perception of threats into its considerations, while still remaining within its mandate.
`As the youth of Seychelles we think climate change and sustainable development is the very core of our existence for years to come. We want our future generations to see the natural beauty of Seychelles, to experience our culture, and to have a home.
We don’t want Seychellois to be environmental refugees or Seychelles to be Atlantis- a lost city amidst the vast ocean.
We endorse Ms Beckett, former Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom:
“Climate change can bring us together, if we have the wisdom to prevent it from driving us apart.”
I’d like to thank the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for giving the Seychelles National Youth Assembly a chance to have our voices heard on this issue.