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UN is unprepared for climate impacts

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Pathetically little is being done to help the Caribbean recover from the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

These disasters – and the inevitability of more damaging climate impacts in the future – highlight how unprepared the UN is to respond to them, and, in their aftermaths, to uphold peace, rights and security.

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Antonio Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, will visit the Caribbean islands of Antigua, Barbuda and Domenica this weekend (7-8 October, 2017). He hopes to drum up more support for the islands and to mobilise support for increased climate action.

But the reality is that the climate has now entered a period of inexorable change, and, even if we stopped polluting today, the nature of the climate system means worse impacts will inevitably follow. Unless the UN undertakes fundamental reorganisation and redeploys its resources, it will struggle to cope with these higher volumes of climate-related security risks – uncontrolled migration, pandemics, famine, social unrest and conflict – and learn from them.

A highly-publicised visit to a disaster-stricken country is not enough. Guterres needs to get to the heart of the problem.

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Camilla Born, Senior Policy Adviser of E3G said:

‘A photo opportunity and an appeal for help is no longer enough. The UN needs get real about climate change and Guterres needs to make it his responsibility to ensure that his organisation – and, as much as possible, national governments – are braced and prepared for the climate-related threats to peace and security that now, whether we like it or not, lie ahead.”

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