National statement at United Nations Peacekeeping Ministerial, Environmental Management in Peacekeeping, Accra, Ghana

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The Hon Matt Thistlethwaite MP

Assistant Minister for Defence

Assistant Minister for Veterans’ Affairs

Assistant Minister for the Republic

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Ben Leeson on 0404 648 275

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6 December 2023

I thank the United States for the opportunity to make this statement on behalf of Australia.

Australia has been active in the UN’s peacebuilding agenda since its inception, including addressing the underlying factors that contribute to conflict.

Today, we see increasing evidence that climate change is undermining peace and security.

In our region, the Pacific recognises that climate change is the single greatest threat to people’s livelihoods, security and wellbeing.

And here in Africa, climate change has amplified instability and conflict.

Australian peacekeepers in South Sudan have seen first-hand the impact that climate change is having on the ability of peace operations to deliver their mandate.

While addressing the climate crisis extends far beyond the work of UN peacekeeping, we strongly support peace operations playing a more active role.

Peace operations need to better integrate a climate security lens, accelerate renewable energy solutions and set mission-specific targets to reduce environmental footprints.  

At a minimum, we need to commit to ‘do no harm’ through the UN’s field presence.

But we think it’s worth aspiring for more - and that the UN can, and must, create a positive legacy when it comes to environmental management and climate change.

Australia is committed to international climate leadership and being a part of these solutions.

It is why we are a committed financial contributor to the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Multi-Year Appeal, to ensure the UN can continue its critical climate, peace and security coordination and capacity-building across peacekeeping and peacebuilding activities.

To give you just one example of how we are acting on our commitment to change, Australia worked with Fiji to embed environmental sustainability into the redevelopment of the Blackrock Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Camp.

Environmental performance was integrated into its design, including a renewable energy system, low energy lighting, integrated water and cooling efficiency to lower its carbon emissions. 

Tomorrow, Australia will formally pledge half a million US dollars in new funding to the UN Department of Operational Support to develop training to enhance capacity in peacekeeping missions to strengthen environmental management capacity and leave a positive legacy. 

Australia recently joined the Group of Friends Leading on Environmental Management in the Field and looks forward to deepening collaboration in New York. We are also a member of the Group of Friends on Climate and Security.

Our broader focus on innovation in peacekeeping is also an opportunity to make an impact.

Through the Department of Peace Operations Innovation Hub we will support data-driven tools and technologies to enhance environmental management. 

Finally, our forthcoming report in partnership with the Stimson Centre will share concrete recommendations on how the UN can better utilise air assets to improve operational efficiency and drive down emissions, while exploring the potential of more eco-friendly air assets.

The peace operations of the future will face more complex, climate-driven security challenges with far-reaching security implications

Australia seeks to accelerate the transition to clean energy and equip missions to better manage their environmental impact. 


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