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Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE CLIMATE SUMMIT

TUESDAY, 23 SEPTEMBER 2014

 

AT CLIMATE SUMMIT, SECRETARY-GENERAL ASKS WORLD LEADERS TO MAKE HISTORY

  • The Secretary-General made the following remarks at the opening of the Climate Summit:
  • Thank you for coming to this unprecedented and important gathering today. Looking at that film made me think of my childhood. I grew up poor in war-torn Korea. I dreamed of peace.  I dreamed of prosperity.  I dreamed of opportunity. Sitting here today is, in so many ways, a dream come true. But today the dreams of people throughout the world hang in the balance. 
  • Climate change threatens hard-won peace, prosperity, and opportunity for billions of people.  Today we must set the world on a new course. Climate change is the defining issue of our age. It is defining our present. Our response will define our future.
  • To ride this storm we need all hands on deck. That is why we are here today. We need a clear vision. 
  • The human, environmental and financial cost of climate change is fast becoming unbearable. We have never faced such a challenge. Nor have we encountered such great opportunity.
  • A low-carbon, climate resilient future will be a better future.  Cleaner. Healthier. Fairer. More stable. Not for some, but for all.
  • There is only one thing in the way. Us. We.
  • That is why I have asked you to be here today. Thank you for your leadership. I am asking you to lead. We must cut emissions. Science says they must peak by 2020, and decline sharply thereafter. By the end of this century we must be carbon neutral. We must not emit more carbon than our planet can absorb. No one is immune from climate change. Not even these United Nations Headquarters, which were flooded during Super Storm Sandy. 
  • We must invest in climate-resilient societies that protect all, especially the most vulnerable.
  • I ask all Governments to commit to a meaningful, universal climate agreement in Paris in 2015, and to do their fair share to limit global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius. To do that, we must work together to mobilise money and move markets. Let us invest in the climate solutions available to us today.
  • Economists have shown that this comes at minimal extra cost, while the benefits to our people and our planet are monumental. We need all public finance institutions to step up to the challenge.
  • And we need to bring private finance from the side-lines. We must begin to capitalize the Green Climate Fund. And we must meet the broader 100 billion dollar-a-year pledge made in Copenhagen.
  • Let us also put a price on carbon. There is no more powerful way to drive the market transformation we need.
  • All these actions demand collaboration, cooperation and coalitions -- today and all the way through to the Paris agreement next year.
  • The United Nations is doing its part. We will be climate neutral by 2020. All around the world, people around the world are acting. Two days ago I was part of a massive people’s climate march in New York, together with Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City. I was overwhelmed by the energy of the tens of thousands of people.
  • In cities around the world, hundreds of thousands of people called for action. They demanded that leaders lead.  That is why we are here today. We are not here to talk.
  • We are here to make history. Today.

MAJOR INITIATIVES ANNOUNCED AT CLIMATE SUMMIT

  • The Secretary-General presented some major initiatives on climate change at a press event today. Here are his remarks:
  • I am honoured to be joined by a number of very important guests. Climate change has been a priority for me since I took office. We need to take action now to limit global temperature rise. We need all hands on deck to ride this storm. That is why I called this Summit. This gathering is unprecedented.
  • More than 120 world leaders, joined by many more business, finance and civil society leaders have come to focus on climate change. But this Summit is not about talk. The Climate Summit is producing actions that make a difference. 
  • This weekend hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets around the world to demand leadership – and results. I joined the marchers here in New York. They gave me the box with 2 million signatures. They asked me to bring their voices into the halls of the United Nations. That is what I have done.  Our duty now is to listen.
  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced this morning that New York City is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.
  • Today a coalition of more than 200 mayors, representing 400 million people, will sign a Mayor’s Compact to reduce annual emissions by between 12.4 and 16.4 per cent.
  • Announcements on agriculture and forests will highlight a commitment by many of the world’s largest and most well-known companies to adapt their supply chains to reduce emissions and build resilience to climate change. They will assist 500 million farmers in the process.
  • Oil and gas companies are today announcing initiatives that will advance efforts to curb the release of methane gas, a highly potent greenhouse gas.
  • Some of the largest financial institutions, investors, banks and insurance companies will announce that they will shift more than 200 billion dollars toward building low-carbon economies by 2015.  Countries are also making significant national announcements. 

 

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL: PROTECTING SYRIAN PEOPLE REQUIRES IMMEDIATE ACTION ROOTED IN U.N. PRINCIPLES

  • At the press conference on climate change today, the Secretary-General started by remarks on Syria. He said the following:
  • For more than a year, I have sounded the alarm bells about the brutality of extremist armed groups in Syria and the critical threat they pose to Syria and to international peace and security.  While the rise of these extremist groups in Syria is a consequence and not a cause of Syria's tragic civil war, there can be no justification for their barbarity and the suffering they impose on the Syrian people. 
  • I welcome the international solidarity to confront this challenge, as demonstrated by the unanimous passage of Security Council Resolution 2170 just a few weeks ago.  
  • Confronting terrorist groups operating in Syria requires a multi-facetted approach.  This approach should be designed to address the immediate security risks, to stop atrocity crimes and, over the longer term, to eliminate the conditions in which these groups take root. 
  • I urge the world leaders gathered in New York, especially those participating in tomorrow’s Security Council Summit on foreign terrorist fighters, to come together decisively in support of efforts to confront these groups. 
  • As the custodian of the principles of the United Nations, I would like to underscore the importance that all measures must be fully in line with the Charter of the United Nations and need to operate strictly in accordance with international humanitarian law.
  • I have placed the protection of civilians at the top of my agenda.  In the case of Syria, there can be no genuine protection if extremist groups are permitted to act with impunity and if the Syrian Government continues to commit gross human rights violations against its own citizens.  Protecting the Syrian people requires immediate action, but action that is rooted in the principles of the United Nations.     
  • I regret the loss of any civilian lives as a result of strikes against targets in Syria.  The parties involved in this campaign must abide by international humanitarian law and take all necessary precautions to avoid and minimize civilian casualties. 
  • I am aware that today’s strikes were not carried out at the direct request of the Syrian Government, but I note that the Government was informed beforehand.  I also note that the strikes took place in areas no longer under the effective control of that Government.  
  • I think it is undeniable – and the subject of broad international consensus – that these extremist groups pose an immediate threat to international peace and security.  

HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE CONCERNED ABOUT CONDITIONS FOR PEOPLE FLEEING FIGHTING IN NORTHERN SYRIA

  • The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern about the situation around the northern Syrian area of Kobani, whose residents, mostly Kurdish, have been fleeing an onslaught by fighters from the Takfiri group, known by a variety of names including ISIL, over the past few days.
  • Residents of Kobani have lived in difficult humanitarian conditions since the town and surrounding villages first came under siege by ISIL forces last year, with shortages of food, fuel and potable water.
  • In interviews with the UN Human Rights Office, those who have fled the area also warned that there is a severe water shortage. Kobani’s main supply of water came from wells in the towns of Oukhan, Qula and Qientra, all of which are now under ISIL control.
  • Meanwhile, the UN Refugee Agency says that more than 138,000 refugees, mainly Kurds, fleeing ISIS threats to towns and villages in the northern Syria crossed into southern Turkey since Friday.
  • Turkish authorities have informed UNHCR they are now managing the entry of refugees through two border points (previously nine) in three phases: security checks in order to maintain the civilian character of asylum; health checks, including measles and polio vaccination for very young children; and registration.

U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY WARNS OF SHARP INCREASE IN IRAQIS FLEEING INTO JORDAN AND TURKEY

  • The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has reported that it has witnessed a sharp increase in Iraqi refugees in Jordan in recent weeks, with 60 per cent of them citing fears of ISIS as the reason for their flight. 
  • In August and September, on average, 120 Iraqis per day have registered with UNHCR in Jordan, up from 65 per day in June and July and just 30 per day in the first five months of 2014.
  • Almost two thirds of new arrivals (60 per cent) come from ISIS-controlled areas in Ninevah, Salah Al Din and Anbar governorates. Refugees report their homes being burned, threat of forced conversion to Islam, fears of forced marriage, kidnapping and public threats. The rest of the newly arriving refugees in Jordan have fled sectarian violence in Baghdad and Basra.
  • The World Food Programme (WFP) said today that it provided urgently needed food assistance to more than one million people across Iraq who were displaced since conflict erupted in mid-June, despite a challenging security situation and the continuous movement of people.
  • Despite the fact that displaced people are on the move and the ongoing fighting further complicates access, WFP has provided food assistance in 13 out of the 18 Iraqi governorates including the three Kurdish Governorates, Erbil, Dahuk, and Sulaymaniyah, as well as Nineveh, Kirkuk, al-Anbar, Diyala, Babel, Wassit, Karbala, Najaf, in addition to Muthana and Thi-Qar governorates.
  • Around 1.8 million Iraqis have been displaced by the conflict in Iraq since mid-June. WFP says that the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate because of the fighting and many Iraqis are living in precarious conditions without access to food, water or shelter.

SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR STRONG MEASURES TO COUNTER-TERRORISM

  • Addressing the Global Counter-terrorism Forum on behalf of the Secretary-General, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, noted the international community’s collective efforts to prevent complex terrorist threats.
  • Mr. Feltman highlighted United States President Barack Obama’s initiative to convene a Summit Meeting of the Security Council on Wednesday devoted to countering terrorism and addressing the rise of foreign terrorist fighters. 
  • He underscored the Secretary-General’s hope that the Council will adopt strong and decisive measures to enable Member States to address this growing threat within the context of respect for international humanitarian law and human rights. He added that, for its part, the UN Counter-Terrorism Centre has launched a major project on this challenge.

APPOINTMENTS:  DAVID NABARRO AS SPECIAL ENVOY FOR EBOLA AND ANTHONY BANBURY AS HEAD OF U.N. MISSION FOR EBOLA RESPONSE

  • The Secretary-General announced the appointment of David Nabarro of the United Kingdom as his Special Envoy for Ebola and Anthony Banbury, of the United States, as his Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER).
  • These appointments follow the unanimous adoption of General Assembly resolution 69/1 on 19 September, and the adoption of Security Council resolution 2177 on the Ebola outbreak. They are made following close consultations with Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization.
  • In his vital role as Special Envoy for Ebola, Dr. Nabarro will provide strategic and policy direction for a greatly enhanced international response and will galvanize essential support for affected communities and countries.
  • Under Mr. Banbury’s leadership, UNMEER, the new Mission, will provide the operational framework and unity of purpose to ensure the rapid, effective and coherent action necessary to stop the Ebola outbreak, to treat the infected, to ensure essential services, to preserve stability and to prevent the spread to countries currently unaffected.
  • Dr. Nabarro and Mr. Banbury will work closely in support of the governments in the region, and other partners, in pursuit of these critical objectives. 

W.H.O. STUDY:  EBOLA COULD INFECT 20,000 BY EARLY NOVEMBER

  • Unless Ebola control measures in west Africa are enhanced quickly, experts from the World Health Organization and Imperial College, London, predict numbers will continue to climb exponentially, and more than 20,000 people will have been infected by early November.
  • Public health epidemiologists and statisticians reviewed data since the beginning of the outbreak in December 2013 to determine the scale of the epidemic, better understand the spread of the disease, and what it will take to reverse the trend of infections.
  • Although the current epidemic in west Africa is unprecedented in scale, the clinical course of infection and the transmissibility of the virus are similar to those in previous Ebola outbreaks.
  • The critical determinant of outbreak size appears to be the speed of implementation of rigorous control measures.
  • The latest figures from the World Health Organization indicate that the number of Ebola cases reached 5,843, and 2,803 deaths.
  • WHO also stressed that the exposure of health-care workers to Ebola continues to be an alarming feature of this outbreak. A total of 186 of them have died in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria.
  • The Food and Agriculture Organization also warned today that Ebola is crippling livelihoods in northern Liberia. If affected communities do not receive immediate assistance, including conditional cash transfers along with rice and vegetable seeds to boost production in the coming weeks, there could be dire consequences for 2015.
  • In response to these critical needs, FAO’s immediate plans in Liberia are to revive local food security and household incomes. As the backbone of local economies and the most-affected group, women’s associations will play a key role in FAO support to reclaim financial capacities.

MALNUTRITION IN SOUTH SUDAN: THOUSANDS OF CHILDREN IN PERIL

  • The UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, says that thousands of malnourished children who have not yet been reached remain in peril in South Sudan. It says that the response must be accelerated during the coming dry season in the country to preposition life-saving supplies for the treatment of children suffering from malnutrition.
  • This follows the latest analysis by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) group of experts, released today, which says that tens of thousands of children under the age of five remain at risk of malnutrition-related death in South Sudan, despite temporary improvements in the food security situation. The IPC also warns that the outlook for 2015 remains of great concern.
  • UNICEF has massively scaled up its humanitarian assistance in response to the crisis in South Sudan. In collaboration with the World Food Programme (WFP), UNICEF has increased services for malnourished children through direct implementation and expanding its partnerships on the ground, adding new national and international NGO partners and conducting intensive training activities to strengthen partners’ capacities where needed.
  • Since April, UNICEF has reached more than 55,000 children under five with treatment for severe acute malnutrition and anticipates that, with its continued scaling up of services, it will reach 120,000 by the end of this year.

SECRETARY-GENERAL: GREAT LAKES REGION AND INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY NEED TO SPEAK WITH ONE VOICE

  • The signatories of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region met in New York on 22 September for the Fourth Meeting of the Regional Oversight Mechanism (ROM) to review progress on the implementation of the Framework.
  • The Secretary-General stressed that it was critical for the region and the international community to continue to speak with one voice and to coordinate strategies and actions.
  • Regional leaders endorsed a number of critical recommendations aimed at achieving better results in the implementation of the Framework, including increasing efforts to neutralize all negative forces, especially FDLR and ADF-NALU; accelerating the implementation of the Nairobi Declarations of the Kampala Dialogue; fighting impunity; strengthening the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism (EJVM) and enhancing regional cooperation.
  • Speaking to the assembly of leaders for his first time as Special Envoy, Said Djinnit noted that the Great Lakes region is at a crossroads. It can only realize its vast potential once sensitive security concerns are fully resolved and relations between neighbouring countries improve, he added.