Speaking at the High Level Event on the Humanitarian Impact of Combined Conflict, Climate and Environmental Risks held on the sidelines of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly today, His Excellency Abdulla Shahid, Minister of Foreign Affairs, urged the international community to take decisive action to address the transnational issue of climate change amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minister Shahid described climate change as a threat multiplier, contributing to increased natural disasters, refugee flows and conflicts over basic resources such as food and water. In this regard, he relied on the current statistics to estimate that by 2050, 200 million people, or one person in 45 worldwide, will have been displaced by the effects of climate change. He further drew attention to the link between climate change and armed conflict, noting that if left unchecked, this could worsen both economic and social tensions in conflict or post-conflict zones, with serious implications especially for the poor and marginalized populations. Minister Shahid then joined the organisers, to call for a deeper analysis of combined conflict, climate and environmental risks and vulnerabilities, and for further reflection on how humanitarian responses should adapt to bolster the resilience of the communities that are most vulnerable.

This high level event was co-hosted by Belgium, the European Union, the Republic of Niger and the International Committee of the Red Cross. It provided a platform for discussion based on the integration of a humanitarian perspective in the areas of climate and security, and featured the launch of the updated ICRC Guidelines on the Protection of the Natural Environment in Armed Conflict. The event was also attended by His Excellency Lowcock, Emergency Relief Coordinator and Under-Secretary-General (OCHA), Mr. Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) among many other high level officials.