Activities of Secretary-General in Denmark, 15-20 December

24 December 2009

Activities of Secretary-General in Denmark, 15-20 December

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, accompanied by Madam Ban Soon‑taek, arrived in Copenhagen from New York in the early morning of Tuesday, 15 December, for the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference.

Shortly after his arrival, the Secretary-General headed to the Conference site, the Bella Centre, where he started the day with a briefing on the status of the negotiations from Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

At the Bella Centre, he had a working lunch with former United States Vice‑President Al Gore, took part in a ceremony, during which he designated Kenyan activist Wangari Maathai as a Messenger of Peace dealing with climate change issues.  (See Note No. 6239)  He also met with Nepalese Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal.

Before opening the high-level segment of the Fifteenth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Secretary-General met with Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen of Denmark, Conference President Connie Hedegaard and Mr. de Boer.

In his opening remarks to the High-Level Segment, he urged delegates to write a different future, saying that we have a real chance to change the course of history, and that the time for maximalist negotiating positions is over.  (See Press Release SG/SM/12674)

After the plenary, the Secretary-General and Prime Minister Rasmussen gave a joint press conference.

On the sidelines of the Conference, the Secretary-General met with Prime Minister Nepal, Chair of the Least Developed Countries, and Han Seung-soo, former Republic of Korea Prime Minister and former Special Envoy on Climate Change.  He also met with Prime Minister Patrick Manning of Trinidad and Tobago.  In addition, he had a video conference with President Lee Myung-bak of the Republic of Korea.

In the evening, the Secretary-General attended a dinner hosted by the European Commission.

On Wednesday, with three days of the Climate Change Conference remaining, he held meetings with leaders individually as well as collectively, such s those of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, the African Group, the Least Developed Countries and the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS).  He also joined the President of the Conference of Parties on the podium of the High-Level Segment.

Among the leaders he met with bilaterally on the sidelines of the Conference were Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Saad Hariri of Lebanon and Chief Ojo Maduekwe, Foreign Minister of Nigeria.

Also on the Conference sidelines, the Secretary-General attended the launch of the World Food Programme (WFP) "Safe Stoves" initiative.  The stoves require less firewood, which means preserving trees and reducing emissions as well as protecting women and girls who often have to travel great distances to collect firewood at the risk of attacks, robbery and rape.  (See Press Release SG/SM/12675)

In the evening, he attended a dinner hosted by the United Nations Foundation to honour United States Senator John Kerry.

The Secretary-General had begun the day with a working breakfast he hosted for United Nations system principals, during which he said he was determined to ensure that the United Nations can “deliver as one” in its response to climate change.  Later in the day he attended an event on the “UN Delivering as One on Climate Change”.

On Thursday, the Secretary-General engaged in intensive discussions with world leaders gathered in Copenhagen.  His first bilateral meeting was with Prime Minister Wen Jiabao of China.  He also had separate meetings with President Felipe Calderon of Mexico, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia and Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt of Sweden.  In addition, he met with President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon and President Shimon Peres of Israel.

In addition, he met with Prime Minister Salam Fayyad of the Palestinian Authority.

At a press encounter late in the afternoon, the Secretary-General called on the leaders to show common sense, compromise and courage, asserting: “This is one of the most complex and complicated and most difficult processes that you may imagine, but I have not seen anything that indicates that we cannot seal the deal in Copenhagen.”

On Thursday evening, he attended a dinner hosted by the Queen and Prince Consort of Denmark at the Christiansborg Castle.

The Secretary-General worked overnight on Thursday and Friday with the Friends of the Conference President, which comprised leaders negotiating the final text of the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference.  The negotiations took place among 29 Government representatives, plus a member of the European Commission.  Together they represented up to 140 countries.

On Friday, the Secretary-General held bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama of Japan, and President Lee of the Republic of Korea.

Speaking at an informal high-level session of the Climate Change Conference on Friday, he told world leaders:  “The finishing line is in sight.”  The world has never before been united on such a scale, he said, adding: “We are closer than ever to the world’s first truly global agreement to limit and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”  (See Press Release SG/SM/12678)

And with just hours remaining to close the final gaps on Friday, the Secretary-General implored leaders to seize the opportunity.  Then on Saturday morning, the President of the Conference declared that the parties would “take note” of the outcome document, named the Copenhagen Accord.

The Secretary-General immediately welcomed the climate change deal reached by world leaders in Copenhagen, calling it an "essential beginning" that contains progress on all key fronts, but adding that work must now focus on turning the deal into a legally binding treaty.  (See Press Release SG/SM/12680)

"Finally we sealed the deal.  And it is a real deal.  Bringing world leaders to the table paid off.  We have the foundation for the first truly global agreement that will limit and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, support adaptation for the most vulnerable and launch a new era of green growth," Mr. Ban told a press conference.  "The Copenhagen Accord may not be everything that everyone hoped for, but this decision of the Conference of Parties is a beginning, an essential beginning," he said.

Before leaving Copenhagen on Sunday, the Secretary-General issued a statement saying the Copenhagen Accord marks a significant step forward in negotiations for the first truly global agreement that can limit and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, support adaptation for the most vulnerable and help to establish a new era of environmentally sustainable growth.

In the coming months, it said, the Secretary-General will work with Member States to ensure that the commitments enshrined in the Copenhagen Accord can be converted into a global, legally binding treaty as soon as possible in 2010.  (See Press Release SG/SM/12682)

The Secretary-General left Copenhagen early on Sunday afternoon for New York.

For information media. Not an official record.