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U.N. Chief: Climate Change an 'Inescapable Reality'
Ban Ki-moon prioritizes action on the environment
Hamdhoon Rashad (hamdun)     Email Article  Print Article 
Published 2007-03-06 02:18 (KST)   
The world has reached a critical stage in its efforts to exercise responsible environmental stewardship, says U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. He made the comments in his keynote address to the 31st United Nations International School-United Nations (UNIS-UN) Conference on "Global Warming: Confronting the Crisis" in New York.

The secretary general said that despite our best intentions and some admirable efforts to date, degradation of the global environment continues unabated, and the world's natural resource base is being used in an unsustainable manner.

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Ban Ki-moon went on to add that, "Climate change was no longer an 'inconvenient' issue, rather, it was an inescapable reality."

Over the last few years, significant changes in the Earth's temperature have been the main concern worldwide. Instability in the environment and variability in the Earth's atmosphere and oceans have become a major threat to our life. From collapsing ice sheets to violent hurricanes, global warming is shaping our modern world today -- in its own way.

"The effects of climate change are being felt around the world. The latest assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has established a strong link between human activity and climate change," Ban said. "The Panel's projections suggest that all countries will feel the adverse impact. But, it is the poor -- in Africa, small island developing States and elsewhere -- who will suffer most, even though they are the least responsible for global warming."

"That is why action on climate change will be one of my top priorities as secretary general," Ban said. "I am encouraged to know that, in the industrialized countries from which leadership is most needed, awareness is growing. In increasing numbers, decision makers are recognizing that that the cost of inaction or delayed action will far exceed the short-term investments needed to address this challenge."

How the problem of global warming will be solved remains unanswered. Whether it will be through a grassroots movement or through public policy, only time will tell. "Global warming is an issue of particular urgency today. Before it is too late, we must take action for taking measures beyond 2012, when it expires. Therefore, it needs concerted action by the governments, by the international organizations led by the United Nations, and also by active support and awareness -- enhance the awareness by civic groups like NGOs. This will not be done by a single country, a single individual --- but we need to have all concerted actions, including yourselves," Ban said after a press conference following the UNIS-UN Conference.

Ban emphasized that much more must also be done by governments, business and civil society. "I would urge all of you, and leaders of civic communities, environmentalists, to try your best efforts to enhance the awareness of the urgency and importance of this issue, so that the policy makers of the international community will take this issue more seriously," he said.

"The United Nations has initiated a very important framework convention, known as U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change [UNFCCC] - that is the central multilateral framework combat climate change. The UN has a role to raise awareness, agree on common agendas and concerns and enhance international cooperation, particularly towards vulnerable countries -- to both mitigate causes and abate the adverse effects of the climate change. We will continue to do so, by adopting decisions on policy options and possible actions to be taken on a priority basis," the U.N. secretary general said.

He added that as the secretary general, he has also presided over two or three policy committee meetings with all his senior advisers to discuss these matters. Ban also said that he has begun consultation on issues concerning climate change with the leaders of the major international players, including the General Assembly.

"When I attend the G-8 Summit meeting in June, which will be held in Germany, I will also very seriously discuss this matter with global leaders," he said.

"The world needs a more coherent system of international environmental governance. We need to invest more in green technologies and smarter policies. And we need to do far more to adapt to global warming and its effects," he said.

"There are growing opportunities for innovative businesses to spur progress and innovation through products that push all of us onto more sustainable paths. But, our efforts should focus particularly on the needs of the poor, who already suffer disproportionately from pollution, disasters and the degradation of resources and land. In particular, plans to implement the Millennium Development Goals should address the added risks posed by climate change."

The U.N. secretary general added that he is strongly committed to ensuring that the United Nations helps the international community make the transition to sustainable practices. Meanwhile, he said, the U.N. is preparing for a United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change conference in Bali in December and the U.N. family is mobilizing all its efforts to address the many challenges posed by global warming. Ban assured that he plans to strengthen this work further.

The annual UNIS-U.N. Conference, organized by UNIS students, addressed issues concerning climate change and its effect on the political, environmental and economic sectors of the world. The two-day conference, attended by more than 600 students from all across the world, also highlighted on the causes and consequences of climate change, as well as the alternative methods of mitigating it.
©2007 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Hamdhoon Rashad

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