Secretary-General's opening statement at the G8 Press Conference and Q & A
Heiligendamm, Germany, 8 June 2007SG: Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen of the media.
I am very pleased to have this opportunity to express some of my views on this summit.
This has been an important Summit, with many fruitful discussions, both official and unofficial.
As you may agree, climate change dominated our agenda. This is only fitting. Climate change, and how we address this issue, is a defining issue of our era. It is also the main reason I came here.
I wholeheartedly welcome that the G8 leaders agreed on strong and early action to combat climate change, and that the United Nations is the forum for negotiating future global action on climate change. While this is an important step, it is only a first step – a beginning, not an end.
I also welcome the agreement by the G-8 leaders to seek to conclude a global agreement under the UNFCCC [UN Framework Convention for Climate Change] by 2009. This makes 2007 even more essential, as we have much work to do to put us on the right track to achieve this.
We have an ever expanding arsenal of technologies to address the threat and also have significant resources at our disposal. What we are desperately in need of, at this time, is political will at the leaders' level to make significant emissions reductions and to help countries adapt to climate change. On both we will need leadership by the G-8 countries. The outcome of this Summit is an important first step.
Many of the participants in these meetings have recently announced new national climate change initiatives or their intent to develop one as a matter of urgency. Just as the countries' national circumstances are different, so too are their initiatives. This is fitting and I fully appreciate their efforts. As we confront the challenges of climate change, the truth is that there is likely to be no single path or solution to all our problems. New technologies, conservation and fuel efficiency programmes, carbon-trading, improving land use practices, national environmental regulation?all are part of the solution. The important thing, as I have stressed repeatedly, is that these policies be complementary and mutually reinforcing. The many strands must be woven into one cloth.
To facilitate this process, I and my Special Envoys have been consulting world leaders about the possibility of a special high-level meeting in New York. Right after this conference, when I am going to join the G8 leaders' meeting again, I am going to inform them of my intention to convene such a meeting on September 24th, the day before the opening of the General Debate. I will provide further details when I return to New York next week. This meeting will represent an important preparatory step to achieving real progress toward launching negotiations at the next Conference of Parties of the UNFCCC in Bali in December. As Secretary-General of the United Nations, I am convinced that the United Nations has a unique role to play as a bridge in finding common solutions to our shared problem.
With the decisions taken by the G-8 here at Heiligendamm we have some new momentum that must be capitalized upon. If we do not follow straight away with concrete action on the national fronts and on structuring and launching negotiations under the UNFCCC, this momentum can be lost all too easily. We must not let that happen.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to turn now to another very important issue that I came to the G-8 to discuss with leaders – the Millennium Development Goals. This year marks the mid-point of our work to realize these goals by 2015. We have far to go indeed, especially in Africa. New statistics show we are making progress, but far too slowly to achieve the MDGS in time. This is why I have offered to chair a new MDG Africa Steering Group of all the major players to help refocus our efforts to achieve the MDGs in Africa. This will include the heads of the World Bank, the IMF [International Monetary Fund], the African Development Bank and the Islamic Development Bank, the AU [African Union], as well as the UN. I will chair the Steering Group and I welcome the support offered here in Heiligendamm for this initiative.
Achieving the MDGs will also depend upon a positive outcome of the Doha Development Round of trade negotiations and by serious follow-through on debt cancellation initiatives. I look forward to leadership by the G-8 countries in this regard.
I will stop here. I will try to answer two to three questions before I return to the conference.
Q: Yesterday you got a meeting with Mexican President Mr Felipe Calderon. I would like to ask you your personal opinion about the strategy, there is a plan in the Mexican government about the climate change. Do you really think that is able to apply this and in that sense if the countries like the G8 has a real possibility to press commitments of the other rich countries? Thank you
SG: Thank you very much. First of all I had a very good meeting with the President of Mexico yesterday. I apreciated his initiative to take national measures. I know that each and every country has very difficult national circumstances...but what is important at this time is that the international community must have concerted actions, taking into account all national, broad packages of socio-economic developments. All this is why I welcome any serious national level initiative and measures, I would like to see that all these national level measures should be incorporated into theUnited Nations negotiating forum, which is the UNFCCC.
Q: Thank you your excellency, my name is (inaudible)...A few days back the US President said he was very worried about the situation in Darfur and said the UN process of tackling the issues, the crisis in Darfur, is very slow. What was said about Darfur here and what do you have to say to that?
SG: I am also concerned about the slow progress about the situation in Darfur. The international community has waited too long and the people in Darfur have suffered too much and too long. The Darfur situation is the highest on my agenda as Secretary-General of the United Nations and I have been devoting most of my time and energy in resolving this issue. You have my full commitment to this issue. Now if I may just tell you briefly the latest development of this situation. I and the chairman [Alpha Oumar] Konare of the African Union have sent a joint proposal to deploy a hybrid operation in Darfur. It is in their hands and we are going to have a trilateral consultation in Addis Ababa from June 11 to 12, that´s Monday and Tuesday. We hope that the Sudanese government will favourably agree to this joint proposal as soon as possible so we will be able to deploy hybrid operation. That will facilitate humanitarian assistance being delivered to many needy people. At the same time at a parallel level we are now stepping up this political dialogue process involving all rebel group leaders. My Special Envoy Mr. Jan Eliasson and African Union Special Envoy, Mr. Salim Ahmed Salim have been tirelessly working and meeting all the people concerned, including rebel group leaders. My roadmap in political dialogue process is that before August I would like to begin real negotations on this. Then I think we can make a progress.. we are now making progress in hybrid operation negotiations and a little progress in political dialogue and we have signed a joint communiqué to allow the facilitation of this humanitarian assistance. Even though it may be slow, but I think in the last five months since my assumption of the post of Secretary-General we have made steady progress. I am very much committed to that. One last question, because I have to....
Q: (Inaudible)....I come from Denmark. What are your expectation to the Copenhagen Climate Conference, will there be a new like Kyoto Protocol there, a Copenhagen Protocol?
SG: I think the International Community must use all resources and technologies and wisdom possible so that we will be able to find out a good solution before the expiration of the Kyoto Protocol in 2012. As I said, I will welcome all active measures and initiatives by national governments, depending upon national circumstances, maybe sometimes very difficult, but unless we take a global action, concerted action to take a global target, we may be making a mistake for our future coming generations. We have resources, we have technologies, only lacking is political will. I am very much ecouraged by this strong political will generated by the world leaders during this Heiligendamm G8 Summit meeting. Thank you very much.
Q: (Inaudible) reporter with the German Public Radio, ARD. Secretary-General do you feel rather like a competitor or a partner being on the G8 Summit, because some people say or ask this question: is this club legitimate at all to try to rule the rest of the world, isn't it more or less the UN itself?
SG: The role of the United Nations Secretary-General is more like a facilitator and promoter and I regard highly the partnership between the United Nations and member states as well as important regional organizations, regional groups. Without the strong support and active participation of all member states, regional groups, European Union, African Union – there are many other regional groups around the world - ... to promote such kind of partnership is the role..in promoting this MDG so we will be able to achieve the target. I think I will try to concentrate, coordinate the wills and commitments of the International Community. Many commitments have already been made and are in the process of delivery. The European Union has taken leadership role and as Secretary-General I am going to help sustain this generated commitment and political will at the leadership level. This is my responsibility and I would like to regard myself as a facilitator not a competitor. Thank you very much. Thank you.