United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, accompanied by Madam Ban Soon-taek, arrived in Kraków from Vilnius, Lithuania, on Monday afternoon, 18 November, for a visit to Poland and to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Warsaw.
The Secretary-General first travelled by road from Kraków to Auschwitz-Birkenau, the second United Nations Secretary-General to visit the Nazi concentration camp. He was accompanied by a group of Polish young people and two Holocaust survivors, Marion Turski, who is Vice-President of the International Auschwitz Committee, and Rabbi Ysrael Meir Lau, the Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv.
The Secretary-General was shown one of the gas chambers and crematoria and laid a wreath the execution wall at Auschwitz I.
Later, at nearby Auschwitz-Birkenau he was shown the selection ramp, a railway carriage of the kind used to transport victims, and further sites, including the registration building. Together with the young people, he placed a white rose at the International Monument to the Victims. The Secretary-General spoke at the registration building. (See Press Release SG/SM/15478.)
During his visit, he was shown a number of exhibits and given detailed explanations by and heard testimony from the survivors.
The Secretary-General later visited Auschwitz Jewish Centre's Chevra Lomdei Mishnayot Synagogue.
The Secretary-General flew from Kraków to Warsaw on Monday evening to attend the nineteenth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP-19) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
On Tuesday, in Warsaw, the Secretary-General visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where he participated in a wreath-laying ceremony.
Later, the Secretary-General opened the high-level segment of the United Nations climate change conference. He said the science is clear that human activities are the dominant cause of climate change and that the consequences are profound. He invited world leaders to a climate change summit in New York on 23 September 2014, the day before the general debate begins. (See Press Release SG/SM/15480.)
He then spoke to the media with Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of UNFCCC.
On that day, the Secretary-General also participated in an event entitled "The UN system as a catalyst for climate action: Promoting sustainable low-carbon development", held by the Chief Executives Board for Coordination.
On Wednesday, 20 November, the Secretary-General met with the Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative, where he rode a bamboo bicycle with Christiana Figueres.
The Secretary-General participated in the Dialogue on Climate Finance organized by Marcin Korolec, President of COP-19, and Minister for Environment of Poland. In his remarks, he said that progress on climate finance is crucial for fuelling confidence in the negotiations on an ambitious global climate agreement. (See Press Release SG/SM/15482.)
The next day, the Secretary-General participated at the opening of “Cities and Sub-national Dialogue”, where he spoke on the crucial role that cities play in tackling climate change. (See Press Release SG/SM/15487.)
The Secretary-General met with a range of key parties on the margins of the climate change negotiations in Warsaw, including ministers from the Alliance of Small Island States; “Group of 77” developing countries and China; the Africa Group; the BASIC countries (Brazil, South Africa, India and China); European Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard; with Vice-Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission of China, Zhenhua Xie; Special Envoy for Climate Change of the United States Todd Stern; Minister for Environment of the Republic of Korea Yoon Seong Kyu; Minister for Environment and Natural Resources of Mexico Juan José Guerra Abud; Vice-President and Head of the Department of the Environment of Iran Masoumeh Ebtekar; and Special Envoy for Energy and Climate of the United Arab Emirates Sultan al-Jaber. He also met with the President of COP-19 and Presidents designate of COP-20 and COP-21.
The Secretary-General returned to New York on 21 November.