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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

Secretary-General's remarks at Joint Press Encounter with Premier of Greenland and Prime Minister of Denmark

Uummannaq, Greenland, 26 March 2014

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

I would, first of all, like to thank the Premier of Greenland, Madame Aleqa Hammond, and also the Prime Minister of Denmark, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, and, more importantly, the people of Greenland for their warm hospitality.

I am just overwhelmed by the majestic beauty of this great land, with over 2 million square kilometres of ice cap and with such vast land covered with snow and ice - this is majestic.

At the same time, I am deeply alarmed by fast-moving glaciers and by the fast-melting ice cap which raises the sea level which affects the whole international community's environmental system.

While I deeply admire the resilience of Greenland's people - particularly young people, [some of] whom I have had the pleasure of meeting with - for their resilience to preserve their heritage and culture, their land, despite the very difficult nature.

I am committed that we must do something for these people who have been living here for thousands and thousands of years, harmoniously living with nature. Their nature, their livelihood, job opportunities - they're very much threatened.

It's not only Greenland's people - it's the people of the whole world [who] are threatened because of this rapidly changing climate change.

There may be still many studies to make, the nature and the impact of the climate change, but [there is] one, simple plain fact: climate change is happening much, much faster than we might think.

That is why I am going to convene on September 23rd the climate change summit meeting at the United Nations before we meet in Paris next year to agree on a global, legal climate change agreement.

That is what Member States have agreed. I am grateful to Member States [that they are] showing commitment that they are going to make it happen.

We cannot negotiate with nature. A lot of disasters, natural disasters, have happened.

We have to take action now. The time is now, and I'm very much committed to working with world leaders.

I hope that world leaders will come to the United Nations with their strong political will, determined will, to raise awareness of these issues and come with galvanized actions which can happen on the ground.

That is the only way which we can save this one, only, planet Earth so that all our coming generations live without any fear. They can live in an environmentally sustainable world. That is our common responsibility.

And I thank the people of Greenland for their wisdom, living with nature. That is the message I am going to send to world leaders.

Thank you very much.