Former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has fought tirelessly to ensure that climate change stays at the top of the leaders’ agendas and has launched a number of initiatives to fight climate change on the ground.
Under the leadership of the Secretary-General, governments have advanced international efforts to fight, mitigate and adapt to climate change.
At the Climate Conference (COP) in Cancun in 2010, governments adopted the Cancun agreements, forming the basis for the largest-ever collective effort to reduce carbon emissions and address the long-term challenges of climate change.
The Cancun agreements also include the most comprehensive package ever agreed by governments to help developing nations deal with climate change, including through finance, technology and capacity-building support.
In Durban in 2011, governments made good on their promises in Cancun and again responded to the Secretary-General’s call for action. The Durban Platform set the path towards a new legally binding agreement applicable to all committed governments to a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol and launched the Green Climate Fund.
These major steps in Cancun and Durban grew out of the pivotal 2007 COP in Bali – the first Climate Conference under the Secretary-General’s leadership which addressed climate change mitigation, adaptation, technology and financing.
At the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Brazil in June 2012, Mr. Ban called on world leaders to step up their political commitment to sustainability. Under the Secretary-General’s leadership, Member States in Rio agreed to clear and practical measures for implementing sustainable development and addressing climate change, including by promoting more sustainable agriculture, enhancing resilience to climate change, improving energy efficiency, addressing ocean acidification, and enhancing strategies that integrate disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation into decision-making. Find out more about the voluntary commitments made at the Rio+20 Conference.
In September 2014, Mr. Ban organized invited world leaders from government, finance, business, and civil society to the Climate Summit 2014 to galvanize and catalyze climate action. He asked these leaders to bring bold announcements and actions to the Summit that would reduce emissions, strengthen climate resilience, and mobilize political will for a meaningful legal agreement in 2015. More than 100 Heads of State attended as well as some 800 business leaders, who made new commitments to reduce carbon emissions. You can read a summary of the commitments here.
While working to build consensus for action at the international level, the Secretary-General is also leading initiatives that promote effective action at the local and national levels to tackle climate change.
In September 2011, Mr. Ban launched his Sustainable Energy for All initiative, which seeks to achieve three inter-linked goals by 2030:
- Universal access to modern energy,
- Doubling energy efficiency, and
- Doubling the share of renewable energy,
Over 60 countries have joined the initiative tens of billions of dollars have been mobilized to advance its three objectives and more than 150 specific commitments have been made by governments, donors, private sector and civil society organizations to support the initiative. More than one billion people will benefit from increased access to modern energy services, a number that will increase as additional public-private partnerships are formed.
Our ability to ensure all people enjoy their right to food now and in the future is increasingly challenged by climate change, so the Secretary-General’s Zero Hunger Challenge is committed to making all food systems sustainable.
The Challenge urges farmers, agribusinesses, cooperatives, governments, unions and civil society to:
- Establish standards for sustainability and be accountable for their observance
- Encourage the universal adoption of sustainable and climate-resilient agriculture practices
- Pursue cross-sectoral policies and
- Implement the responsible governance of land, fisheries and forests
Launched by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2007, “Caring for Climate” is the UN Global Compact, the UN Environment Programme and the secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change‘s initiative aimed at advancing the role of business in addressing climate change.
The initiative provides a framework for business leaders to advance practical solutions and help shape public policy as well as public attitudes. Chief executive officers who support the statement are prepared to set goals, develop and expand strategies and practices, and publicly disclose emissions as part of their existing disclosure commitment within the UN Global Compact framework.
Caring for Climate has been endorsed by nearly 350 companies from 65 countries. The total carbon emissions from signatories in 2009-2010 was lower than the EU-15 group of large economies.
Face-to-Face with Climate Change
The Secretary-General has witnessed first-hand the impacts of climate change, from the North Pole to the rainforests of the Amazon to small Pacific Islands to Antarctica.
In 2007, he was the first UN chief to visit Antarctica and Chilean Patagonia, bringing global attention to the effects of climate change on the world’s largest wilderness. He has since visited the rainforests of the Amazon and has seen the retreating ice sheets in the Arctic Ocean. In 2011, the Secretary-General was the first UN Secretary-General to visit Kiribati, focusing the world’s attention on this small Pacific island nation suffering on the climate frontline.
Most recently, he visited Greenland, where he saw the impacts of climate change on the melting ice sheets.
The Secretary-General also speaks regularly on the issue of climate change at universities, think tanks and research institutes around the world, urging leading thinkers to play their part in addressing climate change.
Mobilizing Climate Finance
The Secretary-General is working with governments to meet their agreement to mobilize of $100 billion per year by 2020 in new and additional finance, and is committed to helping operationalize the Green Climate Fund so that the Fund can play a major role in delivering long-term climate finance.
Mr. Ban has also been working with the private sector, which has the creativity and resources, to advance the role of business in addressing climate change.
Financing for climate change is one of the top priorities of the Secretary-General’s work. He encourages and urges investors to lend their support for climate change initiatives to provide solutions to climate-affected communities around the world.