President Ali says ‘analysis needed’ on impact of conflict on food, climate security

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
President Dr Irfaan Ali [File Photo]

President, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali, has issued a strong call for a targeted and bold approach in addressing the impact of conflict on food and climate security as the world grapples to deal with their effects.

The President issued this call as the members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) have convened for an open debate on the impact of climate change and food insecurity on the maintenance of international peace and security.

The head of state, who also currently serves as President of the UNSC, chaired the high-level debate on Tuesday, where he identified several telling global occurrences that demonstrate the debilitating impacts of conflict on food security and climate change.

President Ali drew the causal link between internal conflict and food insecurity, recognising that this ultimately leads to governance issues.

“The interrelationship between climate change, food security, and peace and security is clear. Climate change and conflict are two of the main drivers of food insecurity and often overlap, creating a vicious cycle of instability and need. The assessment is that climate change is expected to grow significantly as a driver of conflict. We recognise too, that armed conflict can induce food insecurity and the threat of famine,” he said.

Another pertinent effect, the president highlighted, is the loss of agricultural land due to war.

He argued that as these lands are taken out of production, many small and medium-sized farmers are left on the breadline.

The head of state pointed to the impact of the war in Ukraine to present this point.

“The overall value of the damages and losses for agricultural enterprises is estimated at almost 4 billion US dollars. Most times these are small to medium size farmers with no insurance policies with no insurance policies. That is millions of families we’re sending to the poverty line as a result of war. We don’t speak about it. We don’t calculate it. We don’t put it in the equation, but this is the reality,” President Ali noted.

The president also cited an estimate that outlined that within the first 35 days of the war between Israel and Gaza, emissions amounting to approximately 60.3 million tonnes of carbon equivalent were discharged, with analysts projecting a significant uptick in total emissions to alarming levels, should the conflict continue.

“This is the conflicts and war as they exist. We have not yet calculated the impact on the environment and food in the rebuilding phase. That is another calculation that should be added to the equation. Most times it is the developing world that carries the greatest burden. Are we going to be bold enough to calculate these damages and assign a value to the damage as a result of conflict and war? Are we going to be bold enough to even address the level of criminality that exists in creating such damage? The components that constitute food and climate are sometimes missing from the overall analysis of the impact of war and conflict,” he pointed out.

According to the president, the UNSC is uniquely positioned with the ability and political will to implement critical strategies to tackle these challenges.

He, however. stressed that it is up to the council to take into account the consequential effects of war and conflict on food security and climate change.

“These issues are intricately linked to the rule of law, democracy and governance. They’re all interconnected. We therefore are up to a very strong view that the Security Council should outline a series of steps that must include a full analysis of the impact. And just as we adopt many measures to safeguard humanitarian interests. We must adopt measures in our procedures to deal with the effect on food and climate at a minimum. We must be bold enough,” he emphasised.

The high-level debate represents a signature event of Guyana’s presidency.

The meeting is aimed at promoting enhanced understanding, more coordinated responses, and proactive approaches to addressing the linkages between food insecurity and climate change in a peace and security context.

The UNSC council members and other members were allowed to highlight opportunities to enhance international efforts to strengthen food systems, prevent acute food insecurity, and foster preparedness.

Participants brought clarity to the interconnectivity between climate change, food insecurity, and conflict, each outlining potential strategies to address these global challenges, including the design of climate adaptation plans, climate financing, and renewed approaches to Sustainable Development goals. [DPI]