Swedish Statement at the Arria Meeting on Water, Peace and Security


National statement delivered by Ambassador Olof Skoog on behalf of Sweden at the Arria Meeting on Water, Peace and Security, 26 October 2018, United Nations, New York.

Thank you very much to the Netherlands and the other co-hosts for putting this on the agenda and for bringing together such a heavy weight, inspirational panel. I particularly appreciate the fact that you are addressing tremendously difficult challenges but you are also putting forward concrete action on how we can improve dealing with them.

President Türk, you spoke about the need for the Security Council to take the lead and to inspire actions elsewhere in the system. I do think it is fair to say, looking back at the last eighteen months at least that we have experienced in the Council, that there have been more and more discussions on these issues. Bolivia organized recently the discussion on the connection between conflict and natural resources. In July, we had a discussion under our presidency relating to climate change and how it relates to security risks, and that resulted also in a range of concrete suggestions. The Council has adopted Security Council resolutions on Lake Chad, on Somalia, on Darfur, on West Africa and the Sahel, that all acknowledge the need for better risk assessment on climate-related security risks.

Of course, the question now is how do we turn all these decisions and presidential statements into better informed and actionable decisions. I think that a lot of people have spoken about prevention, I think that is absolutely key. We know that prevention starts by better understanding the interrelationship between very complex, underlying causes of conflict. When it comes to water as a natural resource, we know that women often have primary responsibility for smaller scale water resources of importance to local communities. Again, we say this very often and I think it’s true here as in so many other issues, that having the women’s input into our analysis, but also of course when it comes to finding the solutions including mediation etcetera, is absolutely key.

I appreciate very much what the Ethiopian colleague said, and also you Miroslav, on the need to turn the scarcity of water resources from a source of conflict to a source of cooperation. We have in Sweden Stockholm International Water Institute which is very active in trying to promote that kind of cooperation. I appreciate the focus here on regional arrangements and regional cooperation. We look forward also to the Horn of Africa, where everything else is moving very positively forward, that also the water issues here can be solved in a cooperative spirit as outlined. The UN should be supportive of that.

I think that one very important issue is about our ability, or inability, to sometimes channel knowledge and data to decision-makers in a way that makes it sort of “user-friendly”. We have a lot of detailed knowledge and the new tool presented today by mr. Bapna is another one, a good example of technology and data that is now at our disposal to predict water stress. I heard our French colleague speak about the demand on the Secretary-General on yearly reporting on this, we support that fully.

The IPCC has just in their recently published report given us very detailed clues as to what the future will bring us when global temperatures rise. And of course, much of that is related to water. A crucial conclusion from the report regarding water is that if we could limit global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees, this is what we have said but we are still far away from, compared to the 2 degrees, we would reduce the proportion of people affected by water stress by 50 %. It is worth just reflecting on that, especially since some of the world’s most conflict-affected regions suffer from water scarcity. In combination with climate change, the competition for scarce water resources will of course increase in many parts of the world.

We welcome the initial steps that have been taken by the UN system, aiming to enhance the assessment of climate-related security risks. We are very supportive of this. This is also in line with, I think, the recognition that mr. Bapna asked for of the environmental degradation and how it drives conflict. We understand that this is not a quick fix, but we need to be more prognostic and have more prognostic risk-analysis from the system including forward-looking reporting with regional and thematic perspectives.

Enhanced data and analysis will help but only if it is channeled to the right decision makers at the right time. Ultimately, this knowledge must also be readily available for the Security Council. I appreciate Miroslav Jenča’s presence here today, because I think the Secretariat is very much what we look to in order to feed that kind of information based on what you pick up from the countries, the field offices, and the country teams etcetera, into the work of the Security Council. Thank you very much, Madam.


Lisa Laskaridis
Head of Press and Communication, Permanent Mission of Sweden to the UN
Phone +1 212 583 2543
Mobile +1 917 239 0941
email to Lisa Laskaridis