UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK – Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative Ariel Rodelas Peñaranda, Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. of the Philippine Mission to the United Nations, asserted that the convergence of scientific opinion should guide UN Member States in pursuing a common security agenda on sea-level rise. Ambassador Peñaranda was speaking at the Security Council Open Debate on sea-level rise, which was convened under the presidency of Malta on 14 February 2023 at the Security Council Chamber of the United Nations.
In his statement, Ambassador Peñaranda said that the UN, especially the Security Council, should take into account the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, including their projections and recommendations.
He highlighted how the Philippines, with more than half of its cities and communities located along its coasts, is one of the most vulnerable to sea-level rise due to anthropogenic climate change. He said that the Philippines has observed sea-level rise at 60 centimeters, about three times that of the global average.
Secretary General Antonio Gutteres, in his opening statement, said, “The danger is especially acute for nearly 900 million people who live in coastal zones at low elevations — that is one out of ten people on earth. Some coastlines have already seen triple the average rate of sea-level rise.”
Ambassador Peñaranda added that the impacts of sea-level rise threaten all the elements that encompass the national security of the Philippines, and noted that “The nation’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, the people’s well-being, core values, and way of life, among others, are being threatened, especially those living in the coastal areas.” He said that it is important that discussions on the implication of sea-level rise on peace and security be always people-centered.
Ambassador Peñaranda cautioned -- as sea-level rise threatens stability of boundaries -- against inference in favor of ambulatory baselines, and stressed the importance of certainty, predictability and stability in boundaries, which will also serve to prevent conflict.
He emphasized, however, that the forum for discussing climate change and international commitments to address the varied aspects of climate action is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The Security Council Open Debate aimed at highlighting the risks to international peace and security posed by sea level rise, and explore ways how the Security Council can address these risks in the global security architecture and invest in preventive mechanisms.