Window of Opportunity to Protect Natural Capital Diminishing, Secretary-General Warns, as He Urges Bold, Creative New Thinking from UNEP Governing Council

24 February 2010
SG/SM/12764-UNEP/323

Window of Opportunity to Protect Natural Capital Diminishing, Secretary-General Warns, as He Urges Bold, Creative New Thinking from UNEP Governing Council

24 February 2010
Secretary-General
SG/SM/12764
UNEP/323
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Window of Opportunity to Protect Natural Capital Diminishing, Secretary-General


Warns, As He Urges Bold, Creative New Thinking from UNEP Governing Council


Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message to the eleventh Special Session of the UNEP Governing Council and Global Ministerial Environment Forum, delivered by UNEP Deputy Executive Director, Angela Cropper,in Bali, today, 24 February:


It is a pleasure to greet all the participants in this eleventh Special Session of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Governing Council and Global Ministerial Environment Forum.  I welcome your focus at this session on the key issue of international environmental governance.  You will all recall that this was addressed at the first Global Ministerial Environment Forum 10 years ago. 


The Malmö Declaration stressed the need to intensify efforts to remedy the alarming deterioration of the natural resource base that supports life on Earth.  The window of opportunity to preserve our natural capital is diminishing rapidly.  As consumption grows, and as climate change gathers pace, we risk reversals in the many gains that have been made towards the Millennium Development Goals.  The gulf between the aspiration for environmental sustainability and our achievements remains too wide.  Improved international governance of environment and development can help close that gap. 


For instance, the Montreal Protocol to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer is a practical example of how to realize the principle of common but differentiated responsibility to tackle a global threat.  Its combination of political will, legal teeth, adequate funding and private sector collaboration is a powerful mix.  Its lessons can be applied to other areas that demand urgent remedies, including climate change.


The Copenhagen Climate Conference marked a significant step forward in a number of areas, including the setting of a 2°C goal, mitigation commitments for all countries, funding for developing countries and addressing deforestation and forest degradation.  To maintain the momentum, I urge you to reject the last-ditch attempts by climate sceptics to derail your negotiations by exaggerating shortcomings in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report.  Tell the world that you unanimously agree that climate change is a clear and present danger, that you are working to implement agreements already made and that you are continuing negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to address climate change according to the demands of current scientific information. 


I will continue to urge all parties to remain engaged, to increase the level of ambition and to focus on implementation while negotiations continue.  Two weeks ago I launched a High-level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing and I will soon launch a High-level Panel on Global Sustainability.  Both will contribute to the intergovernmental processes in which you participate. 


This Global Ministerial Environment Forum understands better than any that environmental ills cannot be solved where influence and institutions are weak.  A coherent and effective international environmental governance architecture can provide a foundation for human well-being for generations to come.  I urge you to be bold and creative in putting forward new ideas.  In that spirit, I wish you a successful and productive meeting.


* *** *

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