United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon traveled from Geneva to Malta on Tuesday, 21 April on an official visit which focused on climate change issues.
After a red carpet welcome and a review of the Honour Guard on Castille Square in Valletta, the Secretary-General met with the country’s Prime Minister, Lawrence Gonzi, at Auberge de Castille, and then called on President George Abela at the Palace in Valletta.
They discussed Malta's contribution to a number of global issues affecting the small island nation, including climate change and using the resources of oceans. They also discussed the Middle East, the Alliance of Civilizations and immigration issues, with Malta on the path of hundreds of refugees fleeing the Horn of Africa by boat.
He also met with Dr. Joseph Muscat, Leader of the Opposition, on issues of climate change, particularly as they impact the oceans.
On Tuesday evening, Mr. Ban spoke at the unveiling of a Climate Change Monument at the International Maritime Law Institute at the University of Malta, where he drew attention to Malta’s notable contributions on climate change. As an island nation, he said, Malta understands the grave nature of the threat from the rising sea levels and extreme weather that are associated with climate change. Malta, he said, was the first country to formally table the issue of climate change as a political agenda item at the United Nations General Assembly. Since that initiative in 1988, Malta has played a dynamic role in ensuring that climate change would remain a matter of high-level attention for the international community. “And now, as we move toward crucial climate negotiations in Copenhagen later this year, Malta is a key player in efforts to ‘seal the deal’,” he added. (See Press Release SG/SM/12196.)
On Wednesday, the Secretary-General’s first meeting was with Sergio Piazzi, Secretary-General of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean. They discussed the Middle East, the sustainable development of the oceans and the role of parliamentarians on regional and global issues.
He then addressed the Maltese Parliament in Valletta, and he praised Malta for its crucial political and intellectual contributions in bringing climate change issues to the United Nations agenda. He also praised the role the island nation has played in generating the historic Law of the Sea Convention and the landmark Framework Convention on Climate Change. (See Press Release SG/SM/12199.)
He added that it must be safe and possible for people to live in their own countries, so that migration can be a choice, not a necessity. Migration, if managed properly, should benefit both sending and receiving countries, he said.
Later, the Secretary-General was awarded an honorary degree by the University of Malta for his contribution in raising awareness on climate change, in a formal ceremony at the University Church. In his speech he said that climate change is a quintessentially global threat that pays no heed to the borders drawn by humans, adding that no issue better demonstrates the need for global solidarity. Leadership at the highest level is needed now if we are to protect the planet, save lives, and build a more sustainable global economy for all. (See Press Release SG/SM/12198.)
That evening, the Secretary-General travelled to Belgium, where on Thursday, 23 April, he co-chaired the International Conference in support of the Somalia Security Institutions and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).