Remarks to the Press at Mangrove Planting Site in Kiribati [As delivered]
Kiribati, 5 September 2011Thank you very much, President [Anote] Tong of Kiribati for giving such a moving experience for me, to join common efforts of the world to address climate change. And I thank Parliamentary Secretary Richard Marles of Australia for joining us. And I am also very much happy to be joined by so many young people who care for their own future.
This planting of mangroves is the cheapest and surest way to protect the environment.
It protects the coasts.
It protects the ecosystems.
This is a very creative idea and I really commend highly the initiative and vision of President Tong.
This is a very important visit for the Secretary-General. I am here to see for myself how climate change impacts those small island developing states like Kiribati and Solomon Islands and many Pacific Island countries.
Their lives are threatened every day. It's not tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. Their lives are threatened at this moment.
I met a young boy today among a few hundred people who were asking me what the United Nations is going to do for us. I was so moved and so sad. They were afraid of their own future. I think we have a moral and political responsibility to make a better world for all, for our young generation, and their great-great-grandchildren.
Planting mangroves may be simple and may not [seem] much. But it even helps the economy. It generates some income. Then, planting mangroves gives us a good lesson that if you care, if we care, for nature we will be better off in making this Planet Earth more environmentally hospitable, environmentally sustainable.
If we neglect, then this will threaten our lives and our ecosystems. And let us work together, and I am committed as Secretary-General of the United Nations to work with all the countries to make this world environmentally sustainable.
Thank you very much.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Q: You''ve seen what's happened here, Mr Secretary-General, what do you think is the way forward from here?
SG: Kiribati is at the front of the frontlines when it comes to climate change. I have seen for myself the real threats that are impacting on people. People are afraid of their own future, particularly young people.
I am urging world leaders to act now. The high tide shows that it is high time to act. I was so surprised to see the impact of these high tides, inundating these villages and roads. That can be prevented if we act now.
Of course we may not fight against nature. We have to live with nature but if we use our wisdom and act now we can live harmoniously with nature. That's the message which I will carry to the United Nations General Assembly, I will carry to Durban negotiations of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December, I will carry to this Rio+20 summit next year.
But before we can agree on a global convention with each and every country, each and every citizen, they have a role to play. We should not wait until everything is agreed.
Q: Do you think Kiribati deserves all these (climate change) adaptation funds?
SG: Kiribati needs support. That is why I have established my high-level advisory group on climate change financing. They have made recommendations to mobilize 100 billion dollars annually by 2020. That may be a challenge but it is doable. Now they are discussing various options. Developing countries, particularly countries like Kiribati or Solomon Islands whose lives are threatened daily should be given all necessary financial support and technological support so that they can adapt and mitigate the effect of climate change.
Q: Are there any plans to help islands like Kiribati if they submerge under the water?
SG: We are working very hard. Member States are negotiating through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. There will be an important meeting in Durban, South Africa, in December this year. We have made solid progress until now, starting from Bali in 2007, through Copenhagen and then through Cancun last year. We made good foundations. We have to put on those foundations, to make a more solid and concrete agreement. Member States are working hard. This is a global challenge. We need to transcend all national boundaries. [inaudible]
Q. Is climate change new or just donor countries changing the agenda?
SG:Everybody understand that this has been a quintessential threat, this has until now the theory but it has been proven by scientific findings by intergovernmental panel on climate change that this is happening now much much faster than what they expect. Unless we act now, we are neglecting our moral and political obligations for the future of our world, for the future of our succeeding generations, that is why I have been sounding alarm bells all the time to leaders and each and every world leader, developing and developed countries, they should work together however considering all these historical background of climate change, the developed world has to lead this campaign, has to provide financial and technological financial support. I am encouraging that even many developing countries they are working very hard to adapt and mitigate on green house emissions so renewable energy sources and alternative sources and by simply planting mangroves, this is one of the ways where everybody can participate and work together to keep this planet earth healthy.