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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Arctic Polar Ice Rim (Norway)

01 September 2009

Remarks at the Arctic Polar Ice Rim

Standing on the Polar Ice [Rim], I feel the power of nature, and at the same time, a sense of vulnerability. This is a common resource for human beings, and we must do all we can to preserve this Arctic ice. The Arctic is ground zero for analysing the impact of climate change. In the Arctic, climate change is accelerating much faster than in any other region in the world. I am here to see for myself just how much damage this fragile Arctic is suffering from as a result of climate change. The ice is melting faster -- drifting, you have seen while coming here -- many icebergs, the glaciers are drifting and retreating; this is a very alarming situation.

I'm sending [a message] from the Arctic to all world citizens, particularly world leaders, to draw urgent attention to take action immediately, to preserve Planet Earth, to preserve all that we can do to help our succeeding generations to be able to live in a hospitable environment in a sustainable way. I am told by the scientists, as we have just watched those scientists measuring ice and all those elements in the Arctic, that this is the place where climate change is happening faster than any [other] area; we are losing the glaciers at the rate of 150 cubic km per year, that is 150 billion tonnes a year. This is alarming. We must stop this from further happening; unless we fight against climate change, unless we stop this trend, we'll have devastating consequences for humanity. We'll see the sea level rising two metres by 2030 -- this is again [why] we must work together.

To generate political will, the United Nations is going to convene a summit meeting on 22 September in New York; we have invited all world leaders, we expect more than 100 world leaders to participate. I expect them to demonstrate their political leadership. I expect them to play [their role] as global leaders, addressing these challenges, which require global leadership, global solidarity. We do not have any time to lose. The time is short. We must seal the deal in Copenhagen in December, a deal which will be comprehensive, equitable and balanced, so that both industrialised and developing countries, and all citizens of the world can live in an environmentally sustainable way. These are our common resources; we have to deliver Planet Earth to our succeeding generations, in a more hospitable and environmentally sustainable way.

That is the moral and political responsibility required of leaders of the world, and I count on their commitment.