Activities of Secretary-General in Denmark (Greenland), 25-27 March

3 April 2014

Activities of Secretary-General in Denmark (Greenland), 25-27 March

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Madam Ban Soon-taek touched down in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, on Tuesday evening, 25 March.

The melting of ice sheets is accelerating in Greenland, and the purpose of the Secretary-General’s visit was to witness first-hand the impacts of climate change.

The Secretary-General and Madam Ban had traveled together to Greenland from the Netherlands with Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Prime Minister of Denmark.  They were greeted at the airport by Aleqa Hammond, Prime Minister of Greenland.

The Secretary-General immediately flew north to the town of Ilulissat, 250 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle, where he spent the night.

The Secretary-General began the following morning, Wednesday, 26 March, by meeting with Ms. Hammond and Kim Kielsen, Minister of Nature and Environment of Greenland, over breakfast.

He then flew to the town of Uummannaq, Ms. Hammond’s hometown.

There, the Secretary-General, Ms. Thorning-Schmidt and Ms. Hammond hoisted their respective flags in front of Uummannaq’s Old City Hall before attending a prayer service in the town’s church, touring a local art exhibit and visiting a whaling exhibit.

The Secretary-General then went dog sledding on a fjord in Uummannaq.  While on the frozen lake, the Secretary-General also spoke with a local fisherman and heard about his way of life.

The Secretary-General had lunch at the Uummannaq Children’s Home, where he met with youth in the town.  He also heard about the impacts of climate change felt by Pavia Nielsen, a resident of Uummannaq.

Together with the Prime Ministers of Denmark and Greenland, the Secretary-General addressed the media saying that he was overwhelmed by Greenland’s “majestic beauty”, but expressing his deep alarm over how the quickly melting ice cap affects the world’s environment.

He expressed his admiration for the resilience of the people of Greenland to preserve their heritage and culture, and underscored the need for an agreement to be reached on a climate change agreement.  “We have to take action now.  The time is now, and I'm very much committed to working with world leaders,” the Secretary-General said. 

Following this press encounter, he was interviewed by the Danish television networks TV2 and DR, the Japanese television network NHK, and Channel 4 from the United Kingdom.

The Secretary-General had been scheduled to tour the Ilulissat Icefjord, a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage site, by boat in the afternoon, but this was postponed to the following morning due to inclement weather.

Back in Ilulissat, he received a briefing from Mr. Kielsen on renewable energy and the solutions that are available and innovations under way to address climate change in Greenland, before ending his day with an official dinner hosted by Ms. Hammond.

Early the next morning, Thursday, 27 March, the Secretary-General visited the Ilulissat Icefjordby boat, before departing Greenland for New York, via Iceland.

For information media. Not an official record.