World and Nation

NATO Secretary General opens historic Madrid Summit with public forum

The forum focused on climate change, but simultaneously stressed unity under threat of Russian aggression

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks at the opening public forum of the Madrid Summit.
Alex Tran

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg declared “Climate change is a defining challenge of our time” at the opening public forum of NATO’s 2022 Summit in Madrid.

Stoltenberg named NATO’s first emissions targets, aiming for net zero by 2050. NATO civilian and military authorities will gather to establish an energy transition plan to be announced next year.

As he laid out NATO’s climate change agenda, Stoltenberg emphasized its link to the war in Ukraine. “If we fail to preserve peace we also fail to fight climate change,” Stoltenberg said. He stated that “the war in Ukraine shows the danger of being too dependent on commodities from authoritarian regimes,” and said that Russia used its oil and gas exports as a “weapon of coercion.”

In his opening remarks, Stoltenberg stressed the need for unity under the threat of Russian aggression. He pointed out that “it is in our interest to support Ukraine,” and that “the world of NATO allies will be more insecure if Putin wins this war.”

To this end, NATO members plan to finalize the Comprehensive Assistance Package to Ukraine at this summit. This package will commit NATO to providing a sweeping set of military and civilian equipment and aid to support the Ukrainian fight against Russia.

Summit Agenda

In Madrid, NATO will update its Strategic Concept for the first time in over ten years. The Madrid Strategic Concept will underpin NATO initiatives for the next decade, and is expected to be highly influenced by the war in Ukraine, Russian aggression in the Arctic, and Chinese expansion in the South China Sea.

This marks a shift from the last Strategic Concept, released in 2010. The previous Concept referred to Russia as a “strategic partner,” and made little reference to China and the Pacific. The Madrid Strategic Concept is expected to designate Russia as a security threat; NATO will also release a written policy on China for the first time. 

Finland’s and Sweden’s applications to join NATO are also a primary point of discussion. World leaders will attempt to reach an accord with Türkiye, the primary opponent to the accession of these two countries.

This summit in Madrid marks the 40th anniversary of the accession of Spain into NATO, and immediately follows the G7 meeting from June 26–28.

World leaders from over 35 NATO member and affiliate nations are in attendance at this annual summit, which ends on June 30. The summit schedule can be found here (