Activities of Secretary-General in Trinidad and Tobago, 26-29 November

11 December 2009

Activities of Secretary-General in Trinidad and Tobago, 26-29 November

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, accompanied by Madam Ban Soon‑taek, arrived in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, late in the evening on Thursday, 26 November, for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

On Friday morning, 27 November, the Secretary-General held bilateral discussions with the summit host, Prime Minister Patrick Manning.   Their discussions focused almost exclusively on the subject of climate change.  The Secretary-General thanked the Prime Minister for his strong leadership on the issue of climate change, especially in making it a central issue at the summit.  The Prime Minister then gave his clear assurance that he would be attending the Copenhagen Summit in December.

The Secretary-General then attended the opening ceremony of the Meeting at the National Academy for the Performing Arts.  This was followed by a joint reception for the Heads of Government and invited guests, hosted by Prime Minister Manning and Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamlesh Sharma.

In the afternoon, the Secretary-General addressed a special plenary session of Commonwealth Heads of Government on climate change.  He capitalized on the host country’s motto, “Together we aspire, together we achieve”, to express the need for all leaders to pursue the common goal of achieving a firm foundation for a legally binding climate treaty as early as possible in 2010.  He summarized his message to the leaders simply as: “stay focused, stay committed, come to Copenhagen and seal a deal”.  He added that such a deal should be ambitious, equitable and satisfy the demands of science.

In the early evening, the Secretary-General held a joint press conference with the Prime Minister of Denmark, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, in the International Media Centre.    The Secretary-General said he was encouraged by the desire of leaders he has been meeting to achieve a successful outcome in Copenhagen.  “The momentum for success is growing by the day and agreement is well within reach,” he stated.  The Secretary-General added that Copenhagen must identify the means by which resources beyond the next three years could be generated to guarantee the critical long-term finance that is needed.  He further expressed his optimism for a strong, very concrete and substantial agreement in Copenhagen.

On Saturday morning, 28 November, the Secretary-General addressed a special meeting of small island developing States chaired by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.  The Secretary-General observed that huge losses faced island States that are the most vulnerable to the impact of climate change.  “Rising sea levels put your very future in doubt,” he noted.  The Secretary-General highlighted the broad support for a long-term goal to keep global temperature increase to a safe level.  “Many refer to a 2° limit, while for you, the most vulnerable countries, a safe level means staying below 1.5° Centigrade,” he said.  He called on the leaders present to work for a deal in Copenhagen that fully addressed their concerns -- development, food security and protection of people and the planet.

The Secretary-General then held bilateral talks with the United Kingdom Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.  This was followed by a brief joint press conference on Afghanistan.  The Secretary-General said he had spoken with Afghan President Hamid Karzai before coming to the Commonwealth Meeting, and the President had expressed his agreement with the 28 January London Conference on Afghanistan (proposed by the United Kingdom Prime Minister) to be followed by another international event in Kabul.  The Secretary-General then read a statement on Afghanistan, welcoming the London conference as a timely initiative.  He pledged the United Nations strong support for these conferences.

In the margins of the summit, the Secretary-General held bilateral meetings on Saturday with the President of Cyprus, Dimitris Christofias; the President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma; the Prime Minister of Grenada, Tilman Thomas; the Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong; and the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Orette Bruce Golding.

The Secretary-General then participated in an unscheduled joint press conference with the Prime Ministers of Trinidad and Tobago, Australia and Denmark, as well as the Commonwealth Secretary-General.  He said that momentum had been growing for success at the climate change summit.  “We will be able to seal a deal that is ambitious, comprehensive and binding,” the Secretary-General said.  “A deal that satisfies the demands of science and will have an immediate operational effect, together with short-term financial support to the most vulnerable countries,” he added.  “We are united in purpose, but we are not yet united in action,” the Secretary-General stated.  “Now is the time for world leaders to show that they are united and committed in action,” he stressed.

The Secretary-General held three more bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Rudd of Australia, United Kingdom Foreign Secretary David Miliband, and finally with the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper.

He concluded his trip to the Commonwealth Meeting on Saturday evening by attending a dinner and cultural programme hosted by the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago and his wife.

The Secretary-General and his delegation departed from Port of Spain early Sunday morning, 29 November, and returned to New York around mid-afternoon the same day.

For information media. Not an official record.