21 September 2009
Ladies and gentlemen,
Long before climate change was on the international agenda, the Alliance of Small Island Developing States was already sounding the alarm.
Now, on the eve of the United Nations Climate Change Summit, I am extremely grateful for this chance to speak to those of you who are truly on the frontlines of this issue.
And then I intend very carefully to note what the President of Maldives and Grenada said about the vulnerability of Small Island Developing States.
Your countries are renowned for their beauty. But many people do not understand that your ecosystems are fragile, and that your countries are vulnerable to natural hazards. You are among those States most exposed to inevitable climate impacts. Sea level rises, more severe storms, floods, and extreme weather. Your vulnerability is acute.
In some cases, your very existence is at risk.
I am here to support you and your plea for urgent international action.
And I am here to thank you for your strong leadership. You helped push for the General Assembly's adoption of a resolution on the security implications of climate change. This is of course a serious issue.
The economic implications of climate change are also extremely grave. Globally, small island developing States have among the highest ratio of economic losses from disasters and other climate impacts.
In your countries, a major disaster can wipe out decades of development gains and cause immense losses overnight. Lives and livelihoods destroyed. Entire economies damaged.
I am heartened the Alliance is sounding a clarion call. The financial, economic and human costs of inaction on climate change far outweigh the cost of acting today
I note your call to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degree Celsius. It is far from an academic matter. For some, it is a matter of survival.
I count on you to continue showing dynamic leadership to seal a fair, comprehensive and ambitious deal at Copenhagen in December.
Success at the Climate Change Conference can usher in a new era of green growth and prosperity.
A deal in Copenhagen must include a comprehensive, robust adaptation package. This is critical.
A deal for the climate must also be a deal for development.
We need to focus much more attention on reducing disaster risks. We need to manage natural resources and forests in a more sustainable way. And we need to improve the resilience of ecosystems.
Adaptation and mitigation deserve equal attention. Effective measures in both areas help lift millions of people out of poverty.
Now more than ever, we need Head of State leadership if the world is to cross over the finish line in Copenhagen.
Tomorrow's climate change summit is a chance for national leaders to build bridges and dispel mistrust.
I look forward to the contribution that AOSIS will make to tomorrow's summit and beyond, on the road to Copenhagen.
For our part, the United Nations is committed to partnership with the Alliance of Small Island Developing States.
Together, we can forge an equitable, effective and comprehensive global solution in Copenhagen.