UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres issued a stark warning on Tuesday, emphasizing that the combination of warfare and climate change leads to widespread hunger and food insecurity.
Over 250 million people in 58 countries and territories are currently grappling with acute hunger due to ongoing conflicts and worsening natural disasters, exacerbated by the impacts of global warming.
Speaking at a ministerial-level meeting of the Security Council on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, Guterres stated, “When conflict combines with the climate crisis, harvests shrink and people go hungry.” He highlighted how fighters destroy crops, livestock is stolen, fertile land becomes contaminated by explosives, and disrupted markets cause skyrocketing prices.
Guterres further revealed that in 2022 alone, more than 117 million people faced acute hunger primarily due to war and insecurity. The economic fallout from the conflict in Ukraine played a significant role in driving up global food prices, energy costs, and fertilizer expenses, thereby exacerbating food insecurity worldwide.
Mirjana Spoljaric, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, emphasized the detrimental impact of drought, inadequate climate adaptation investment in conflict zones, and the ripple effects of the international armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine on people in conflicts worldwide.
However, Russia’s UN ambassador, Vasily Nebenzya, attributed food insecurity to conflict and “unilateral sanctions” imposed by Western nations, characterizing hunger as an economic warfare method employed by the West.
Mariam Al Mheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment and Minister of State for Food Security, urged the Security Council to address climate change, emphasizing its status as the “existential challenge” of our time. She underscored that if current practices persist, natural disasters will become more frequent and severe.
Additionally, Al Mheiri called upon all member states to fully implement the provisions of a resolution passed late last year, which exempts humanitarian aid from existing and future UN sanctions regimes.
As the world grapples with the intersecting challenges of armed conflict, climate change, and food insecurity, the urgent need for collective action and humanitarian support becomes increasingly apparent. Addressing these complex issues requires a comprehensive approach, involving conflict resolution, climate adaptation, and international cooperation to ensure the well-being and food security of vulnerable populations worldwide.