14 May 2009
I thank the Government of Sweden for sponsoring the Commission on Climate Change and Development, and for hosting this event.
The Commission's report is timely. The Copenhagen climate change meeting is in December. The clock is ticking. We still have much work to do to seal a deal.
This report looks at the links between development and climate change. It highlights the importance of adaptation. And it emphasizes the need to support the most vulnerable.
These issues are central to the climate change negotiations.
They are also central to this session of the Commission on Sustainable Development.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Climate change is happening, now.
If we work hard, and agree on deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, we can avoid some of the worst consequences. But not all of them.
That is why we must also support adaptation for the world's poor.
Climate change will affect all countries. But the poor will suffer first – and worst.
I have seen the impacts of climate change first-hand.
I have met families whose crops have been withered by droughts.
I have seen children left homeless by floods and storms.
I have seen burning forests and melting glaciers.
Billions of people are at risk. That is why adaptation is a key element in the negotiations for a new climate deal.
I commend the authors of this report for their insight into how to reduce the risks associated with a changing climate.
The report reminds us that we are far from helpless. We have decades of experience in development and in risk reduction to guide us.
We know what works – and what doesn't work.
Simple community-based measures taken today can strengthen resilience, save lives and prevent future poverty and disaster. Some of the world's most impoverished countries are already showing the way.
Communities in Bangladesh, Cuba and elsewhere have saved tens of thousands of lives through simple early warning systems and disaster planning.
Others are improving how they manage their crops and their land. Others are working to protect their coasts and important ecosystems.
The solutions are often achieved with great ingenuity, and often at low cost. They need to be replicated, they need to be magnified, and they need to be given financial support.
Honorable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,
The Parties to the climate negotiations are discussing a comprehensive framework for adaptation. They are discussing how to mobilize the financial resources that will be essential to any successful deal. And they are looking at governance issues, so we can channel support to those who need it most.
We will need leadership and commitment at the highest level to resolve all these key political issues by December.
Leadership that says that risk reduction is not an additional expense, but our first line of defense against the impacts of climate change.
Leadership, again, that will help us to strengthen our resilience, and protect important gains in development.
Leadership that says that adaptation is an essential investment in our shared future.
Leadership that will help us to strengthen our resilience, and protect our investment in development.
In this year of climate change, I say let us work together to seal a deal. A deal that cuts greenhouse gas emissions. A deal that promotes green development. And a deal that will help the most vulnerable to adapt to a changing climate.
Thank you very much for your commitment and leadership.