According to the United Nations, rising sea levels caused by global warming could spur a mass migration of entire populations from low-lying areas on a “biblical scale.”
Speaking to the Security Council in New York about the impact of sea level rises on global peace and security, UN Secretary General António Guterres said, “The impact of rising seas is already creating new sources of instability and conflict.” Over these years countries in low lying areas are seeing a decrease in their shorelines and this will further make things worse. Noting that some nations’ coastlines have already seen triple the average rate of sea level rise, he warned that, in the coming decades, low-lying communities and entire countries could disappear forever.
As per a recent report from World Meteorological Organization (WMO), global average sea levels have risen faster since 1900 than over any preceding century in the last 3,000 years.
“Under any temperature rise scenario, countries from Bangladesh to China, India and the Netherlands will all be at risk. Mega-cities on every continent will face serious impacts, including Lagos, Bangkok, Mumbai, Shanghai, London, Buenos Aires and New York,” Guterres said
Csaba Kőrösi, President of the General Assembly, stressed on the urgent need for action against climate change, and he termed it as “the greatest challenge of our generation”.
He also pointed out that the framework to fight climate change is already there, all we need is political will to act upon.
The rise in sea level was described as a threat multiplier.With sea water entering the inlands, it would have a devastating impact on people’s livelihood and the economy of the nations. The UN Secretary-General also mentioned how the already rise in sea level has forced people in various low-lying areas to relocate and it will only add to the numbers of displaced people due to climate change.
Bogdan Aurescu, Romanian foreign minister and Co-Chair of the International Law Commission Study Group on Sea-Level Rise, agreed that climate change-related sea level poses a real risk to over two-thirds of UN Member States.
Outlining a range of sea level rise implications, he said coastlines are being “pushed” inward, affecting baselines from which countries’ maritime zones are measured and therefore threatening countries’ access to resources. While several actions are available to protect countries’ coastlines, including physical barriers, their costs remain out of reach for many of the countries worst affected.
“People’s human rights do not disappear because their homes do,” said the UN Secretary-General in a powerful statement.