Named the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the 2019 Climate Change Summit, Luis Alfonso de Alba is working to ensure that the world has the tools, the vision and the political will necessary to move forward on ambitious climate action for the benefit of all aspects of society.
“We will need a lot of political will to address the challenges that we confront,” said Ambassador de Alba, “but what we are doing today, what we committed to in the 2015 Paris Agreement, is simply not enough to reach the goal of keeping global warming to 1.5°C or 2°C”.
Recognizing that “we need to address a number of pending issues, like getting sufficient resources for activities both to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the challenges that climate change presents such as natural disasters,” the Special Envoy noted that climate action would be beneficial to all aspects of society.
“Climate action is not only possible, it’s not only urgent, it may be also a very good opportunity for a fundamental transformation of the way we produce, consume and the way our own economies develop,” he explained.
Climate change is “a problem that is not just affecting the environment,” stressed Mr. de Alba. “It touches on all the spheres of development and if we want to achieve sustainable development, fight poverty and eradicate diseases, etc., climate action is a fundamental thing, and will have far reaching impact on the future of our communities.”
Special Envoy de Alba’s described his task until the Summit as being to “raise the level of the political discussion, reach out to the highest levels of Government, the most important companies in the private sector and raise awareness.”
The Secretary-General’s Summit – meant to take place 23 September during the UN General Assembly’s high-level week – will bring together heads of State and Government, ministers, leaders of private sector initiatives, and non-profit organisations, for a discussion about concrete action and raised ambition.
“It’s going to be fundamental for Governments to recognize that they need to work in a more open way with the different stakeholders, the business sector, and the international actors which have been playing an important role, as well as through different constituencies, raising awareness about the challenges and the opportunities of acting,” said the Ambassador.
“We need to map out what is happening, to identify initiatives, actors that can do better, and incentivize them to do it, and to do it not tomorrow, but immediately, because as we have seen from recent scientific reports, the situation could be extremely serious if we do not act now.”
Recognizing that “there are different capacities and different resources that are available to different countries and different actors,” Special Envoy de Alba explained that “we need to make sure that there is sufficient support from one to country to another,” not just from developed to developing nations but also through South-South cooperation.
“We do have developing countries that do have the capacity and the know-how to support other developing countries. So it’s not only a North-South divide, it’s a community of interest: we need to transfer technology, resources, knowledge in general, so that everybody can do their part”.
“We need to have a common understanding on the benefits of acting quickly and in a coordinated manner. We need to develop a sense of collective responsibility because this is a problem that cannot be solved by one country alone. All countries need to engage,” he noted.