FOCUS ON GREEN GROWTH IS ONLY SUSTAINABLE WAY TO SET COUNTRIES ON PATH TO HIGH DEVELOPMENT, DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL TELLS WORLD LEADERS’ FORUM

31 October 2008
DSG/SM/424

FOCUS ON GREEN GROWTH IS ONLY SUSTAINABLE WAY TO SET COUNTRIES ON PATH TO HIGH DEVELOPMENT, DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL TELLS WORLD LEADERS’ FORUM

31 October 2008
Deputy Secretary-General
DSG/SM/424
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

FOCUS ON GREEN GROWTH IS ONLY SUSTAINABLE WAY TO SET COUNTRIES ON PATH TO HIGH

DEVELOPMENT, DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL TELLS WORLD LEADERS’ FORUM

Following is the text of UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s remarks at the World Leaders Forum on International Cooperation for Green Growth within the Framework of the United Nations, in Seoul, yesterday, 30 October:

It is a great pleasure and privilege to be among such prominent panellists.  I bring you warm greetings from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, one of the Republic of Korea’s best sons.  He certainly is a clear reflection of Korea’s remarkable rise as a global player.  I am honoured and privileged to serve as his deputy.

The issue that brings us together today is of utmost significance.  Indeed, Secretary-General Ban calls climate change “the defining issue of our time”.

The fact that the Republic of Korea has placed its sixtieth anniversary under the banner of climate change attests to a visionary step forward in the twenty-first century.  I want to congratulate the Government of the Republic of Korea on the leading role it plays in climate change policy formulation and implementation.

Growth is often viewed narrowly as a rise in income, despite growing inequalities and severe environmental degradation.  Yet many of the problems we face today are due to unsustainable paths taken in search of development.

Today we are confronted with complex and intertwined crises of magnitudes that we have never witnessed before, most recently the food, fuel and financial crises.  The interconnectedness of our world means what affects one part of the world can rapidly spread to other parts.

Amongst the many challenges we are facing, climate change is increasingly being recognized as the most pressing that will affect most of us in our lifetime and pass on to future generations.

Its signs are everywhere -– melting glaciers in Antarctica, disappearing rainforests in South America, desertification in Africa and increasing extreme weather events around the globe.

Science is now unequivocal that a “business-as-usual” scenario is unsustainable.  Economic growth that is largely fuelled by carbon-based energy, as has been the case, is not a sustainable option.  Climate stabilization should be the ultimate global public good.

Preserving our environment will require international cooperation at an unprecedented level.  The United Nations is a universal forum uniquely positioned to address climate change. 

Through its global system of agencies, frameworks and operations, the Organization has the capacity to facilitate the kind of international cooperation that would be needed to tackle the challenges posed by climate change.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of reaching a new agreement by the end of next year in Copenhagen.  We need to establish an ambitious global climate agreement for the post-2012 period, when the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol expires.

Developed countries, largely the beneficiaries of economic growth fuelled by carbon-based energy, must take the lead in ensuring a just and globally acceptable climate agreement next year.  As a representative of 192 Member States, the United Nations system is “leading-by-example”, through initiatives such as climate-neutral United Nations, as a key element of its own message on addressing climate change.

I am grateful for the opportunity to discuss these issues at a forum in Korea, a fast-growing economy that is well positioned to lead. 

The country’s rapid growth and integration into the world economy is partly due to advances in less energy-intensive industries.   Korea’s knowledge and experience could be leveraged by other countries as they seek a low-carbon path to economic growth and development.

Some already cite the current financial crisis as an excuse to do less for the cause of global climate stabilization.  We at the United Nations believe that it is precisely the time to do more.

The crisis that confronts us today is in part triggered and deepened by a focus away from conserving and restoring our natural resources, and over-reliance on a finite supply of environment-degrading fossil fuels.

But these challenges also present opportunity to take stock, refocus and mobilize investments in clean technologies and natural infrastructure.

This can spur sustainable growth, combat climate change and trigger an employment boom in the twenty-first century.  This is already beginning to happen.

A recent study by the United Nations provides examples of massive green jobs creation, throughout the world:

-- 600,000 people in China who are already employed in solar thermal, making and installing products such as solar water heaters;

-- In Nigeria, a biofuels industry based on cassava and sugarcane crops might sustain an industry employing 200,000 people;

-- India could generate 900,000 jobs by 2025 in biomass gasification, of which 300,000 would be in the manufacturing of stoves and 600,000 in areas such as processing into briquettes and pellets and the fuel supply chain; and

-- In South Africa, 25,000 previously unemployed people are now employed in conservation as part of the “Working for Water” initiative.

For many, it is very difficult to imagine that about two fifths of the world’s population today lives on less than $2 a day.  This is the case despite decades of high economic growth in many countries around the world, and the revolution in technology.

This situation could get worse, with increasing population pressure on a finite level of natural resources.  The only sustainable way to put our countries on the path of high growth and development is to focus on green growth.

I am sure the esteemed group of futurists and green technology experts gathered here in Seoul will join our efforts at the United Nations in driving the international cooperation that we must have for a successful climate agreement in 2009.

There is no other way to resolve a global problem of this scale, other than for all countries of the world to stand together. 

We need to set the right price for carbon and put in place long-term regulation and incentives for green growth.  We need to ensure adequate global funding for a sustainable, green path towards our future growth.

To achieve this, we must all play our respective parts as responsible global citizens.  We must also engage the various stakeholders required to make the international cooperation possible for a just climate agreement.  We must not fail.  Too many people around the world are counting on us to get this right.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.