7 February 2008
Press Release
Note No. 6126

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Note to Correspondents



The United Nations General Assembly will take a first step towards furthering the goals of the Bali Action Plan on climate change at a special two-day debate -- “Addressing Climate Change:  The United Nations and the World at Work” -- that will take place in New York on 11 and 12 February.

“The UN cannot do it alone,” says United Nations General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim (The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia).  “What is needed is a common vision, a global consensus, a global alliance for action, shared by individuals, the media, lawmakers, business leaders, Governments, regional organizations and ultimately the global community embodied in the United Nations.  Only then will we have a chance to tackle this enormous challenge to our lives.”

President Kerim, who has made climate change his “flagship” issue, said the debate would support, and not replace or be a substitute for, the negotiations that were launched in Bali.  “Our aim is to support that process.  We need to keep the momentum created by the Bali road map,” Mr. Kerim said.  “Climate change is an issue that has to be dealt with systematically.  The General Assembly must remain involved on a continuing basis.”

The debate, according to Mr. Kerim, will also consider the best way for the United Nations system to tackle climate change.  “The session will guide the way forward for the UN system.  We need to focus the UN system’s many programmes and resources, where they will have greatest effect.” 

The debate will be guided by the report of the Secretary-General, requested by the General Assembly, which provides an overview of the United Nations work on climate change.  In the report, the Secretary-General says climate change is “just the kind of global challenge that the United Nations is best suited to address”, and, that to deliver on this potential, the Organization needed to provide a solid platform, deliver a sound framework, and enhance concrete and meaningful cooperation across the United Nations system.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will address the General Assembly on the first day of the debate, and Richard Branson, Chief Executive Officer of the Virgin Group, will be the keynote speaker at a lunch hosted by the General Assembly President.

One panel, on the morning of 11 February, will feature representatives from business, cities, the media, Government and non-governmental organizations.  An afternoon panel will look at how the United Nations will work to support the negotiating process and implement measures to support climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts.

Member States will discuss the issues of partnership and the work of the United Nations system during the debate on Tuesday.  More than 20 ministers are expected to participate in the debate.

There will be a press briefing with General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim and Virgin Group Chief Executive Officer Richard Branson on 11 February, at 12:30 p.m. in Room S-226.

The event will be webcast live at www.un.org/webcast.

For the programme and more information:  www.un.org/ga/president/62/ThematicDebates/themclimatechange; www.un.org/climatechange

Please contact Janos Tisovszky, Spokesperson for the General Assembly President, tel.:  917 367 2068, e-mail:  tisovszky@un.org, or Dan Shepard, United Nations Department of Public Information, tel.:  212 963 9495, e-mail:  shepard@un.org.

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For information media • not an official record