UN DESA shows commitment to climate action at COP24

From blistering heatwaves and high-intensity natural disasters to melting sea ice and biodiversity loss, the impacts of global warming are more visible than ever. The recent “Global Warming of 1.5°C” report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change confirms the need to strongly commit to the Paris Agreement’s aims of limiting global warming to well below 2°C and, even better, limiting warming to 1.5°C. It is clear: All stakeholders must raise their ambition, take urgent action and make unprecedented transitions now to achieve a carbon-neutral world by mid-century.

To this end, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs is stepping up its presence at the annual UN Climate Change Conference, held from 2 to 14 December in Katowice, Poland. The event, officially the 24th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24), will bring together more than 20,000 experts over the two weeks.

UN DESA is co-hosting the SDG Pavilion in the exposition hall with the Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organization (GEIDCO), a non-governmental organization based in China. The SDG Pavilion will bring together stakeholders from governments, the UN system, the private sector, civil society and academia around the world for substantive discussions on the interlinkages between climate change and all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“We must promote synergies between the SDGs and climate change to advance win-win solutions,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and Head of UN DESA, Liu Zhenmin.

Such solutions to the climate challenge are highlighted at the SDG Pavilion, where the department’s Division for Sustainable Development Goals is coordinating with GEIDCO a robust 11-day programme of interactive dialogues, presentations and special events.

The Pavilion offers opportunities for experts gathered in Poland to share experiences and ideas on how best to leverage policies, programmes, implementation mechanisms, multistakeholder action and partnerships to advance both the SDGs and climate action in ways that benefit all. A diversity of implementation experiences and perspectives are explored on a wide range of issues including energy, water, ocean, forest, food, gender, jobs, health, technology and innovation.

Heads of UN DESA, Liu Zhenmin, and of UNFCCC, Patricia Espinosa, at the SDG Pavilion in Katowice

Also at COP24, UN DESA and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) announced the first global conference on synergies between the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement. The conference will take place in Copenhagen, Denmark, in March 2019.

“We expect that this global conference will deliver (…) a set of concrete recommendations for strengthening the interlinkages between climate action and the SDGs,” said Mr. Liu. “This conference will be aimed at promoting action,” he added.

“Climate change and the SDGs are really one integral agenda,” said Patricia Espinosa, UNFCCC Executive Secretary. “In working together, UN DESA and we at UN Climate Change are setting an example of the way the different entities can join forces.”

Climate change is a major priority for Secretary-General António Guterres and UN DESA Under-Secretary-General Liu Zhenmin, both of whom have attended COP24 during the high-level period that kicks off the conference.

Peter Thomson, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean, will also be at COP24 to promote the ways that ocean conservation can be a solution to climate change, since the ocean produces half the world’s oxygen and absorbs 30 per cent of carbon dioxide produced by humans each year.

Additionally, UN DESA’s UN Forum on Forests Secretariat is promoting the UN Strategic Plan for Forests 2030, a global effort towards halting deforestation, forest degradation and expanding the world’s forests, which serve as an important carbon sequestration mechanism. Poland, which holds the presidency of COP24, considers forests a priority issue and an integral part of implementing the Paris Agreement and achieving climate neutrality. A Ministerial Declaration on Forests for Climate is expected to be one of three such declarations to be adopted in Katowice.

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