What can the UN Security Council do on climate and security?

UNSC Options Paper Cover
Vivekananda, Janani; Adam Day and Susanne Wolfmaier 2020: What can the UN Security Council do on climate and security?. Berlin: adelphi.

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has so far been reluctant to tackle climate change. But as the impacts of climate change on peace and security become more and more apparent, questions of whether the UNSC should and will address the security implications of climate change more directly in the future become increasingly pertinent. While recognising the limits of UNSC action, this publication serves as a backgrounder to examine how climate change and security risks trigger the UNSC’s mandate for action, and what action the Council could and should be expected to take in response.

It is structured around three questions:

  • What operative measures can the UN system take in case climate-related risk is identified as a threat? 
  • What precedents for situation-appropriate action exist? 
  • What actions are available within the respective mandates of other UN organs and intergovernmental agencies?