27 September 2012

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

Efforts to End Hunger ‘Will Come to Naught If We Don’t Work Together to Slow Down

Carbon Emissions Warming the Planet’, Secretary-General Tells High-Level Event

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, to the high-level event on water and food security:  “Innovations for a Changing Climate”, in New York, 27 September:

I thank the Government of Qatar for raising awareness of the critical issues of water, food security and climate change.  Addressing these challenges is essential for sustainable development, reducing poverty, increasing prosperity and reinforcing the foundations of peace and security.  I thank Qatar, too, for hosting the upcoming Climate Conference in Doha.

Action on climate change remains a major piece of unfinished business.  Last December, Member States agreed to reach a legally binding agreement by 2015.  Two days ago, I called on Member States to make good on this promise.  Time is running out on our ability to limit the rise in global temperature to 2° centigrade.  We should all work together to make COP-18 [Eighteen Conference of Parties of the UnitedNations Framework Convention on Climate Change] a major stepping stone to a global, robust and legally binding climate regime.

Since my first day in office, I have called for urgent and concrete action on climate change.  Yet, here we are, more than five years later, witnessing the highest levels of emissions ever.

Last month was the 330th consecutive month with a global temperature above historic average — an undeniable three-decade trend.  This year, Arctic sea ice was again at an all-time low.  Some scientists have predicted total collapse in four years.  We have also seen another record year for wildfires, droughts and flooding.  Climate change is making weather patterns both extreme and unpredictable, contributing to volatility in global food prices, which means food and nutrition insecurity for the poor and the most vulnerable.

At the Rio+20 Conference in June, I launched the Zero Hunger Challenge.  It has five objectives:  first, make sure that everyone in our world has access to enough nutritious food all year long.  They should be able to buy it, grow it or get it through a safety net; second, end childhood stunting; third, build sustainable food systems; fourth, double the productivity and income of smallholder farmers, especially women; fifth, prevent food from being lost or wasted.

Ending hunger will mean climate-smart, climate-resilient agriculture; policies that are water-smart, energy-efficient and that promote inclusive green growth.  We will need more private and public investment in science, innovation and applied research and innovative partnerships among farmers — small and large-scale — Governments, businesses, academia, international organizations and civil society — to make better use of what we learn.

But, our efforts will come to naught if we don’t work together to slow down the carbon emissions that are warming the planet.  At Doha, I expect Governments to adopt the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.  The emission reduction targets of the new Kyoto treaty are not sufficient — we know that — but they are a necessary starting point from which to build a future global agreement by 2015.  We must also address the gap between fast-start finance and long-term finance, so that by 2020, climate finance is being mobilized at the agreed level of $100 billion a year.  We need to accelerate our efforts to make the Green Climate Fund, approved last year in Durban, fully operational.

This is the path to water and food security.  I count on this meeting to help generate the momentum we need.  Now is the moment to work together, to honour our commitments, and build the future we want.  Thank you for your leadership.

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For information media • not an official record