Financial Sectors at ‘the Heart’ of Tackling Climate Change, Forging Solutions, Says Secretary-General at Annual Meeting

13 October 2013
SG/SM/15394-ENV/DEV/1392

Financial Sectors at ‘the Heart’ of Tackling Climate Change, Forging Solutions, Says Secretary-General at Annual Meeting

13 October 2013
Secretary-General
SG/SM/15394 ENV/DEV/1392
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Financial Sectors at ‘the Heart’ of Tackling Climate Change, Forging Solutions,

Says Secretary-General at Annual Meeting

 

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the annual meeting of the International Development Finance Club (IDFC), in Washington, D.C., on 13 October:

Thank you for your invitation.  I am pleased to join you for your second annual meeting, and I thank you for your commitment to promoting social, economic and environmental responsibility in the global marketplace.

You may be aware that I returned just yesterday from a visit to Europe and Asia.  I am here today because I firmly believe that a stronger strategic partnership between the International Development Finance Club and the United Nations will greatly benefit both our organizations and build a better world for all.

We come together as the world sets its sights on the year 2015 — a historic opportunity in our shared work.  2015 is when UN Member States have pledged to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, adopt a new development agenda and complete a global agreement on climate change.

Eradicating extreme poverty is at the heart of this effort.  So is holding global temperature rise below 2°C.  These are mutually reinforcing goals.  They are achievable goals.  But, doing so will require significant change and restructuring of the global economy.

Our main challenge is to ensure that the discussions about a post-2015 development agenda and a new climate agreement will move sustainable development from the margins to the mainstream.  Our new development vision should encompass the three integrated pillars of sustainable development:  the economic, the social and the environmental.

Our agenda should be transformative.  And it should be universal, applying to all countries while allowing for differing levels of development.  Discussions are well under way.  Based on the past few weeks of diplomacy during the opening of the General Assembly, I am encouraged by our progress and the political will to adopt an inspiring agenda that can capture the public imagination.

But, one big cloud hangs over the horizon:  climate change.  Climate change is the single greatest threat to sustainable development.  Yet, too often, one important fact gets lost amid the fear:  addressing climate change is one of our greatest opportunities.

With enlightened action, we can create jobs, improve public health and protect the environment.  Nor do we need to wait for the breakthroughs of tomorrow; the technologies, policies and practices in our hands today can help us speed up and scale up mitigation and adaptation action at every level.

To help set us on this path, next September, I will host a Climate Summit that will bring together, not only Heads of State and Government from around the world, but also global leaders from business, finance and civil society.  Our goal is mobilize political will for the negotiations, deliver concrete new commitments and spark a race to the top in climate action.

Your engagement in this work is vital.  Today, I want to highlight three areas where the development finance community and the financial sector are at the heart of tackling climate change and forging solutions.

First, and perhaps most obviously, that is where the money is.  Large amounts of capital are needed for the rapid development of low-carbon infrastructure.

Progress is happening.  I commend your commitment to unlock clean energy investments and close the viability gap between low-emissions and fossil fuel-based projects.  Over the past six years, development banks within the IDFC have provided impressive green finance commitments, including $79 billion in climate financing in the last year alone.

At the same time, we must do more, especially given the clear and growing economic impact of climate change.  I hope you will collectively use the 2014 Climate Summit to reach the goal of $100 billion a year for new climate finance commitments.

I also encourage you to double your portfolio of adaptation financing.  A more balanced allocation between adaptation and mitigation commitments by development banks will help make your economies and financial institutions more climate resilient.  It will also inspire other financial actors to follow suit.  Development banks have proven that smart public financing can spur local and international private sector investments and meet the growing demand for energy and climate resilience.

I urge you to do even more at the global and national level:  by helping to open new markets, facilitate new business models and support entrepreneurs in the developing world where demand for clean investment solutions is greatest.

That leads me to the second point.  The global response to climate change must match the scope of the problem, and that means tapping into the potential of all actors to achieve the large-scale transformation we need.

Institutional investors have an important role in de-carbonizing and transforming our global economy.  Pension funds, insurance companies and sovereign wealth funds are already owners and creditors of large and predominantly high-carbon segments of the global economy.  Yet, only 1 per cent of pension fund assets were invested in infrastructure projects.

A transition to a green economy will be virtually impossible if this enormous financial asset class does not itself transition towards low-carbon assets.  That will require new investment vehicles and bankable projects that can tap new sources of capital.  I am interested in your views on proposals, such as the creation of a secondary bond market for low-carbon assets with the help of your best performing projects.

Transaction costs and lack of understanding of investment opportunities are also key barriers.  We look to your thoughts on how development banks can make low-carbon projects more attractive to institutional investors.  In the coming months, I will reach out to different groups of institutional investors, and I count on your expertise and leadership.

My third and final point is about the Green Climate Fund (GCF).  The GCF cannot be expected to act as the exclusive conduit of climate finance, but it will be an important part of a public-private framework.  For the GCF to fulfil its potential, it is essential for it to promote a stronger role for developing country institutions, such as national development banks, in supporting readiness activities.

I welcome your dialogue with GCF Board Members to operationalize the Fund.  I also encourage you to continue your cooperation with experts in the UN system to ensure that developing countries have the institutional capacity to access climate finance.

We need to scale up our efforts and our ambition.  The climate clock is ticking.  The longer we delay, the greater the costs — to communities, to businesses, to economies and to the planet.  Your partnership is critical to the UN's work.  Together, we can rise to this existential challenge and build a better, more secure world for future generations.

I thank you for your engagement and partnership to help build a life of dignity for all.  Thank you.

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