UN Chief: ‘Climate change drives terrorism’

In a debate with the Security Council, António Guterres warned that climate issues in developing countries are fuelling terrorism

Big Zero Report 2023

Climate change is an aggravator for terrorism, says the UN Chief.

Secretary-General António Guterres explained that terrorist groups in countries such as Iraq, Syria and Somalia are exploiting shortages in water and charcoal production to generate revenue and control key infrastructure.

“Climate change is not the source of all ills – but it has a multiplier effect and is an aggravating factor for instability, conflict and terrorism,” he explained during a debate with the Security Council.

He explained how countries that are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change are also the countries that many terrorist organisations have a foothold in.

Lack of economic opportunity driven by poor access to essential resources is also driving recruits from local communities to join terrorist organisations, he added.

“Climate impacts compound conflicts and exacerbate fragility. When the loss of livelihoods leaves populations in despair, the promises of protection, income and justice – behind which terrorists sometimes hide their true designs – become more attractive,” Mr Guterres explained.

He highlighted five areas where action must be taken, including:

  • Cutting the issue at the root – providing more investment to drive human development and more environmental defenders and thinkers.
  • The agreement of climate finance from COP26 must be realised and urgently to stop further damage being done.
  • Quicker analysis of climate change impacts and warning systems, to pre-empt issues such as droughts and bring peace to these regions.
  • More local, national and regional partnerships and initiatives for these areas surrounding climate action.
  • Sustained funding – to maintain progress for longer periods of time in these countries, rather than short bursts of enthusiasm.

He called this the “New Agenda of Peace” and explained its aim was to create a “virtuous circle of peace, resilience and sustainable development.”

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