15 December 2008

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

Secretary-General says ‘prosperity need not come at the expense of our planet’,

Urges investment in creation of green jobs, in message to Haiti seminar


Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message to the Seminar on Climate Change and the Environment, delivered by Joel Boutroe, United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator/Resident Coordinator for Haiti, in Port-au-Prince, 13 December:

It is a pleasure to send greetings to this seminar.  I thank the Government and people of Haiti for hosting this event, and the Association of the Caribbean States for organizing it.

Now more than ever, we need to come together as a global community to find common solutions to common problems such as climate change.  At the climate conference that just ended in Poznan, Poland, I called for bold, urgent steps to tackle this quintessential global threat.

The lush Caribbean region offers a prime example of the profound influence that nature and climate exert on every facet of life.  As our climate becomes more dangerous and unstable, so, too, will life on these islands.  Your societies are particularly vulnerable to the increasingly severe storms and extreme weather associated with climate change.  We must do far more to help developing countries adapt to a future of greater climatic volatility.

We must also reduce disaster risks.  More than 90 per cent of all disaster deaths occur in developing nations.  The poorest -- those least responsible for global warming -- are likely to suffer first and worst from the consequences of climate change.

Yet, every crisis carries within it the seeds of opportunity.  As we face both a climate crisis and a global economic crisis, let us also recognize that solutions to the former can help provide solutions to the latter.  Wise investments in a greener, lower-carbon direction have tremendous potential to spur growth.  Economic stimulus packages should move us forward by investing in clean technologies, creating green jobs and retooling our economies to preserve our planet’s natural wealth.

Economic growth need not be tied to the growth of greenhouse gas emissions.  Prosperity need not come at the expense of our planet.  But, to get from here to there, we need to harness political leadership from every sector of society and from every nation.  Leadership will be essential in sealing a climate deal in Copenhagen next year that is ambitious, comprehensive and politically acceptable to all countries.  Together, let us build a more sustainable, prosperous world for this and future generations.  Please accept my best wishes for a successful seminar.

* *** *

For information media • not an official record