Guatemala: UN-backed meeting opens to spur recovery from floods, eruptions

Ambrosio Lopez and Lorena Gonzalez lost everything in the floods unleashed by Tropical Storm Agatha in Guatemala

11 October 2010 – An international conference opened in Guatemala today to help in the reconstruction of the Central American country after devastating volcanic eruptions and torrential rains, with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pledging full United Nations support.

“The United Nations system has been deeply engaged in the humanitarian response to Guatemala’s recent catastrophes, and our co-sponsorship of this meeting is a further sign of our commitment,” he said in a message delivered by UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) Executive Secretary Alicia Bárcena.

“We will continue to work hand-in-hand with national authorities and partners to provide coherent and responsive support to Guatemala in its effort to achieve its stated goal of ‘recovery and reconstruction with transformation,’” he added, noting that the “tremendous human suffering, material destruction and economic losses” have raised concerns over the effects of extreme weather associated with climate change.

Such tragedies “highlight the need for concrete action at the upcoming Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change [UNFCCC], which begins next month in Cancún, [Mexico],” he stressed.

On Saturday, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres said countries at a meeting in Tianjin, China, had made progress in defining what could be achieved at the Cancún talks to be held from 29 November to 10 December as part of the world effort to stabilize human-caused greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere that could lead to global warming, violent storms and fierce droughts.


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