Abu Dhabi, 5 May 2014 — In a major shift from negotiations to engagement on action, more than 1,000 participants, including 70 government ministers voiced support for the development of a range of bold initiatives to address climate change at the Abu Dhabi Ascent which concluded today.

The two-day Ascent meeting was co-hosted by United Nations Secretary-General Ban-Ki-moon and the Government of the United Arab Emirates to prepare for the Climate Summit that will be held on 23 September in New York to raise ambition and action for climate change.

The Secretary-General said he was leaving Abu Dhabi with the sense that change is in the air. “I challenge you to be part of that change – to be at the head of the race.”

But he warned that any government or major business that does not have a climate strategy is in trouble. “Don’t get left behind. Don’t be on the losing side of history.”

Calling the meeting informative and inspiring, Mr. Ban said, “Now the hard work begins. In the coming months, I will count on the wisdom and initiative of all actors.

“Those who are prepared to lead can expect considerable returns. The business opportunities of the low-carbon economy are great. The social and environmental benefits for countries in all regions are yet to be realized.”

“We have made real progress in the past two days in cementing ambitious partnerships to cut emissions, mobilize investment and help countries adapt to climate change,” said Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, United Arab Emirates Minister of State and Special Envoy for Energy and Climate Change. “The UAE is proud to have played such a central role in supporting Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his outstanding efforts to lead the global community to real climate action.

“We believe more strongly than ever that addressing climate change will demand effective actions across the energy-food-water nexus. It has been encouraging to see that here in Abu Dhabi we have achieved real progress in shaping, scaling up and preparing these initiatives to be announced in September.”

Participants at the meeting worked in small groups to share plans around nine key action areas. The best initiatives will be highlighted at the Climate Summit.

Wrapping up the meeting this afternoon, Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, said the Ascent emphasized that the costs of inaction on climate change exceed the costs of action and that economic growth and reducing emissions are compatible processes.  She said that business is moving to play a decisive role in areas from renewables to deforestation-free supply chains; and civil society and indigenous peoples must be fully engaged in the responses.

She said, “The path to the top is beginning to emerge from the mist. We can now see many steps which need to be taken individually and collectively to achieve a successful Climate Summit on 23 September.”

For more information, please contact Dan Shepard, UN Department of Public Information,shepard@un.org, 1-646 675-3286 or Dan Thomas from the Secretary-General’s Climate Change Support Team, daniel.thomas@un.org, 1-917 520-8842