UN officials urge global push to reverse environmental damage

2 February 2007 –

Top United Nations officials today called for international action to reverse environmental damage across the planet, stressing that the world body can play a key role in this effort.

“Protecting the global environment is largely beyond the capacity of individual countries,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a video message to the Paris Conference for Global Ecological Governance in Paris. “The natural arena for such action is the United Nations.”

Environmental degradation reverses many of the gains made by mankind in recent decades, Mr. Ban said, as it “is undercutting our fight against poverty” and “could even come to jeopardize international peace and security.”

“We need clear objectives and strong ecological governance at the global level, a concept that continues to elude us,” said General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa, who addressed the Conference.

“Without radical change, we will all ultimately find ourselves in a situation of generalized precariousness,” she cautioned.

Sheikha Khalifa asserted that the General Assembly is the best forum for the international community to work to combat climate change, induced by industrialization and other human endeavours.

“We must, without further ado, agree on the definition of an institutional framework that will enable us to take more effective and efficient collective action,” she said.

Her remarks come on the heels of the release of a UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report today, which states that global warming – manifested by atmospheric changes, melting glaciers, extreme temperatures and rising sea levels – is most likely caused by human activities.

“Momentum for action is building; this new report should spur policymakers to get off the fence and put strong and effective policies in place to tackle greenhouse gas emissions,” said Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

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