|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Activities of Secretary-General in Switzerland, 2-4 September
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, accompanied by Madam Ban Soon-taek, arrived in Geneva, Switzerland, in the evening of Wednesday, 2 September.
The following morning, he had a working breakfast, which included a briefing by Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
The Secretary-General then addressed the opening of the High-Level Segment of the World Climate Conference 3. In his statement, he emphasized the need to strike an “ambitious, comprehensive and fair” deal at this December’s climate change conference in Copenhagen. Just back from his trip to the Arctic region, he told participants: “I witnessed the sober reality of change with my own eyes. […] The Arctic is warming faster than anywhere else on Earth. It may be virtually ice-free by 2030. It has been said that the Arctic is our barometer ‑‑ the canary in the coal mine. But it is much more than that. Changes in the Arctic are accelerating global climate change.” (See Press Release SG/SM/12433.)
Before holding a press conference, the Secretary-General met with the President of Tajikistan, Emomali Rakhmanov. They discussed that country’s progress towards the Millennium Development Goals; water resources in Central Asia; regional cooperation, peace and security; climate change and the 22 September Summit convened by the United Nations; as well as the situation in Afghanistan.
He then held a press conference on climate change, saying: “Our foot is stuck on the gas pedal. We have to pull it off.” He stressed that the Copenhagen climate change conference was less than three months away and that only 15 negotiating days were left. “We are very much pressured by this time. We have to resolve some of the most complex issues within 15 days,” he added. He noted that the United Nations would convene a climate change summit in New York, on 22 September, saying he expected “candid and constructive discussions”, “serious bridge-building”, and “strong outcomes”. (See press release SG/SM/12435.)
In the afternoon, the Secretary-General held a series of bilateral meetings. He first met with the President of Slovenia, Danilo Türk. Their discussion focused on climate change and the 22 September Summit, as well as on the role of the European Union.
The Secretary-General then met with the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina. They discussed climate change, particularly the situation of the most vulnerable countries; the 22 September Summit and disaster reduction. They also discussed ongoing and future support from the United Nations and the international community for the consolidation of democracy in Bangladesh.
The Secretary-General also met with the President of Ethiopia, Girma Wolde Giorgis, discussing with him the situation in Somalia, including the Transitional Federal Government and the issue of piracy. They also talked about the situation in the Sudan, as well as the upcoming elections in Ethiopia.
Later in the afternoon, the Secretary-General met with Mahinda Samarasinghe, Minister for Disaster Management and Human Rights of Sri Lanka. They discussed the conditions in the camps for internally displaced persons, particularly with the monsoon season approaching. They also discussed the return of internally displaced persons, as well as the importance of free movements of people among the camps, and free movement of United Nations and international humanitarian workers. They talked about the importance of reconciliation. They also discussed accountability, particularly in light of the recent accusations of extrajudicial executions.
The next morning, the Secretary-General met with Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) with whom he talked about the United Nations response to H1N1 influenza.
He then met with the President of Mozambique, Armando Emilio Guebuza, and discussed climate change, as well as peace and security issues in Africa.
Before leaving Geneva, the Secretary-General also held meetings with the Director General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Juan Somavia, and with the Secretary-General of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), Hamadoun Touré.
The Secretary-General left Geneva for New York on Friday, 4 September, in the early afternoon.
* *** *For information media • not an official record