United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Durban, South Africa, on the morning of Tuesday, 6 December, to take part in the seventeenth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
He first received a briefing by Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, on the status of the negotiations, and then met with Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, President of the Conference of the Parties and South African Minister for International Relations and Cooperation.
After meeting with President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, the Secretary-General addressed the opening of the high-level segment of the Conference of the Parties. “We must be realistic about expectations for a breakthrough in Durban,” he told delegates, but added that “we can and must move forward on key issues”. The Secretary-General said he expected advances in Durban, starting with implementing what was agreed upon at the last Conference of the Parties in Cancún, and achieving progress on short- and long-term financing. He also urged delegates to consider in Durban a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol. Finally, he called on countries not to forsake the collective vision of a comprehensive, binding climate change agreement that is both effective and fair for all. (See Press Release SG/SM/13996)
Speaking to reporters afterwards, the Secretary-General said that across our globe, climate patterns were becoming more and more unpredictable. He added that the poor were affected first and worst. “That is why we need to show solidarity and resolve here in Durban,” he stressed, saying that progress in the climate negotiations was needed now.
Later that day, the Secretary-General participated in the launch of the Climate Change Convention initiative “Momentum for Change”, which showcases projects on urban poverty and climate change. He called on world leaders to be united in their political resolve to fight climate change, and said that national action on the ground was needed even before a legally binging comprehensive agreement was realized. (See Press Release SG/SM/14000)
That night, he attended an event on “Powering Ahead towards a Clean Industrial Revolution”, and said that despite a difficult economic climate, companies and investors are seeing the long-term benefits in the renewable-energy sector. “Here at Durban, we are asking Governments to take the same long view — to invest in our common future by making progress towards a comprehensive binding climate agreement that is fair to all,” he added. (See Press Release SG/SM/13998)
Before ending his day, the Secretary-General met with Wang Xiaokang, President of the China Energy Conservation and Environment Protection Group.
On Wednesday, the Secretary-General met with key parties in the climate change negotiations. He held discussions with the European Commissioner for climate action, Connie Hedegaard; representatives of the BASIC countries (Brazil, South Africa, India and China); the United States Special Envoy for Climate Change, Todd Stern; the Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States, Foreign Minister Karl Hood of Grenada; and representatives of the “Group of 77” developing countries.
He also attended, with Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg of Norway and Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, a high-level event on long-term climate financing, where he said that we still had a long way to go towards mobilizing $100 billion a year by 2020, but stressed how important it was for developed countries to fulfil their commitments. He added that the immediate challenge was how to get a scaled-up climate finance system up and running. The Secretary-General also called on Climate Change Convention parties to resolve in Durban any differences remaining on the design of the Green Climate Fund. The new Fund must not be an empty shell, he said. (See Press Release SG/SM/14002)
After closing a United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination event on the margins of the Conference of the Parties, the Secretary-General spoke at a high-level forum on international forest protection. He said that forests continued to disappear at an alarming rate, and more needed to be done with a greater sense of urgency. He called for the Conference of the Parties to have a decision on financing for REDD+ that week, and to use private-sector partnerships to implement the REDD+ agenda. (See Press Release SG/SM/14005)
That evening, he met with Maria Fernanda Espinoza, Special Envoy of the President of Ecuador and Minister for Cultural and Natural Heritage, and Ricardo Patino, Foreign Minister of Ecuador.
He ended his day by attending a ministerial dinner hosted by the President of the Conference of Parties. In his remarks, he called on world leaders to look to next year’s “Rio+20” United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. “Climate change, demographics, water, food, energy, global health, women’s empowerment — these issues are all intertwined. We cannot look at one strand in isolation,” he said. He added that Rio+20 was a once-in-a-generation opportunity to mobilize support for sustainable energy, for strengthening climate resilience and for expanding equitable, inclusive growth. (See Press Release SG/SM/14006)
The Secretary-General left Durban for Nairobi on the morning of Thursday, 8 December.