Secretary-General Voices Concern over Drought in Sahel, Horn of Africa, at Event on Building Resilience to Climate, Disasters

3 June 2013

Secretary-General Voices Concern over Drought in Sahel, Horn of Africa, at Event on Building Resilience to Climate, Disasters

3 June 2013
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Secretary-General Voices Concern over Drought in Sahel, Horn of Africa,


at Event on Building Resilience to Climate, Disasters


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the Fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V) high-level luncheon, co-hosted by the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme and the Government of Japan, under the theme “Building Climate and Disaster Resilience for African Development”, in Yokohama, Japan, on 2 June:

I thank the Government of Japan, the United Nations Development Programme and the World Bank for convening this important session.

I have always made climate change a priority.  I am pushing countries to honour their promise to conclude a universal, legally binding global climate change treaty by 2015.  Next year, I will convene a climate change summit in New York to increase the political momentum and help catalyse ambitious action on the ground.

Climate change is especially critical for Africa.  Droughts and floods killed thousands of Africans last year.  Millions more lost homes, livelihoods and hope.  The human tragedy is immeasurable.  The financial cost runs in the billions of dollars.

Predictions are dire.  Severe water stress could affect as many as 250 million Africans ‑ not in some distant future, but by the end of this decade.  Failed rains are likely to cause extensive crop damage.  That means less food for more people.

Development setbacks can breed unrest.  Countries destabilized by climate change are potential breeding grounds for extremism and international criminal activity.  They are a source of mass migration.

I am particularly concerned about the situation in the Sahel, where we clearly see the links among climate change, extreme weather patterns and political instability.  The United Nations is responding by developing an integrated regional strategy for the Sahel.  It addresses all dimensions ‑ security, governance, development, human rights and humanitarian needs.  Last year, droughts affected nearly 20 million people in the region.

The situation in the Horn of Africa is also grave.  In 2011, the worst drought in 60 years left some 13 million people there without enough food.  The crisis was especially bad in southern Somalia.  More than a quarter of a million Somalis died in the famine in over just two years ‑ a case of natural disaster being magnified by insecurity.  Half of the victims were children.  The United Nations is committed to doing everything possible to help Africa become more resilient.

As we face problems, let us also focus even more on possibilities.  The evidence is clear:  African countries need significant resources to strengthen climate-resilient development.  Developed countries have committed to reaching a target of $100 billion for annual support for adaptation and mitigation in the developing world by 2020.  This funding is an investment in our common future.  We must mobilize public-private partnerships to catalyse the required funding at scale.

Countries buffered from the impacts of climate change can focus on sustainable development and prosperity.  Africa’s rivers, sunshine, wind and geothermal resources can provide sustainable energy for all Africans, creating jobs and generating growth.  They can provide power to Europe, too.

Climate-smart agriculture can benefit Africans and the world.  With the right changes ‑ and support ‑ farming systems can become more resilient and more productive, producing less emissions and increasing their potential to capture carbon.  Africa’s small farmers, businesses and entrepreneurs all along the value-chain can boost incomes and drive a green revolution that could transform the continent.

Africans have initiative, ability and interest in success.  I look forward to your ideas on how our partnership can create a greener future.  And I look forward to African leadership in making the climate change summit I will host next year a success.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.