Ban Ki-moon's speeches

Remarks to Commonwealth Summit Meeting with Small Island Developing States, (SIDS)

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Port of Spain (Trinidad & Tobago), 28 November 2009


I welcome this chance to speak with you.

Your countries are on the frontlines of climate change.

Long before climate change was on the international agenda, Small Island

Developing States were already sounding the alarm.

The Mauritius Strategy for further implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action emphasizes that Small Island Developing States are among the most vulnerable nations.

You face huge economic losses from disasters.

In some cases, rising sea levels put your very future in doubt.

That is why I am here: to support your call for urgent action – to support an ambitious agreement in Copenhagen to protect people and the planet.

Like you, I know the cost of inaction far outweighs the costs of acting today.

I commend your call for deep emission cuts in line with the science.

And I support your call for scaled-up resources for urgent adaptation needs as well as mitigation.

I see this as a practical and moral imperative.


I am here to thank you for your strong leadership.

We all know what is at stake in Copenhagen. Without a deal, emissions will continue to rise and climate impacts will grow ever more severe.

And so I ask you to make your voices heard for a strong, equitable agreement.

It must be as ambitious as possible.

But to get a deal we need every country on board. We need you on board.

The world needs your support at this critical moment.

I recognize your concerns.

I hear broad support for setting a long-term goal to keep the global temperature increase to a safe level.

Many refer to a 2 degree limit while for you, the most vulnerable countries, a safe level means staying below 1.5 degrees centigrade.

That said, we face a simple reality: if we delay for perfection, we risk ending up with nothing – no agreement at all.

Right now, the momentum is strong – and it continues to grow.

Scores of world leaders are working to reach a climate agreement in Copenhagen.

The world has never before witnessed this level of political engagement on climate.

We will not get a better chance any time soon.


The longer we wait, the higher the costs.

Human costs – economic costs – lost productivity and lost competitiveness – political instability.

Failure to reach an agreement at Copenhagen will most harm those who have done the least to cause climate change.

It would also cast a shadow on multilateral cooperation. The MDGs – trade – finance – security.

Meanwhile, emissions will continue to rise and climate effects will grow ever more severe.

We must seal the deal in Copenhagen.

A deal for development. A deal that strengthens food security – that protects people and the planet.

A deal that will deliver immediate practical results – fast-track financing of at least $10 billion a year to strengthen climate resilience and support mitigation in countries such as yours.

A deal that will spur action on all key areas of adaptation, mitigation, finance and governance.

An ambitious deal that will set a firm deadline for a legally binding treaty as soon as possible in 2010.

The stronger the agreement in Copenhagen, the quicker it can be transformed into a legal framework.

Let us come together in Copenhagen for a global deal for the global good.

Thank you.