Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the World Economic Forum plenary session: “The New Climate and Development Imperative”, in Davos, Switzerland, on 21 January:
I am pleased to join you today. I thank Professor Klaus Schwab and his team for bringing us together.
Last year, I came to Davos seeking your support for an ambitious agenda to transform the global economy, bring new opportunities to billions of people, and leave a healthier planet for future generations.
Now I can say we have delivered with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The only challenge greater than agreement on these plans is what we have to do next: namely carry them out. That’s why we are here today.
Four days ago, I was in Abu Dhabi for the World Future Energy Summit, where they showcased young innovators. One group of high school students in Somalia is working on solar panels. By video, one of the young women pointed to a grassy area. She said, “This is where I will put the solar panels — and it is where my future begins.” On that patch of grass, you see the link between climate and development.
We need to scale up sustainable energy sources, especially in the developing world. The Sustainable Development Goals and climate change must go together. The Paris Agreement will reinforce climate action and make important contributions to realizing the Sustainable Development Goals.
Climate change undermines development gains. Traditional development models exacerbated the problem. Now, we have a holistic approach. The Sustainable Development Goals commit countries to moving towards development models that are more sustainable, protecting the environment and addressing climate change.
Another nexus between climate and development is disaster risk reduction. All countries have to be concerned about natural disasters. A few years ago, the United Nations Headquarters in New York was flooded by Hurricane Sandy. Right near this Forum, snow and avalanche experts are developing new flood prediction models that reflect the changing climate. Around the world, more and more people understand that climate resilience supports progress.
Trillions of dollars will be invested in infrastructure in the coming years. Governments and the private sector must align their investment and infrastructure decisions with the goal to limit temperature rise well below 2°, even 1.5°C.
The Paris Agreement gives the private sector an unprecedented opportunity to create clean energy, climate resilient economies. Governments have agreed on transparent rules of the road to monitor progress, enhance accountability and foster a race to the top of climate ambition. They also endorsed the use of market mechanisms to spur the growth of carbon pricing.
The direction of travel is clear. Five steps will move us forward. First, national climate plans must urgently be converted into bankable investment strategies and projects.
Second, we must generate sufficient financing for developing countries to bypass fossil fuels and meet high energy demands with low-carbon sources.
Third, we need greater attention and resources for climate resilience. That is why I launched a new Climate Resilience Initiative in Paris called A2R — to anticipate risks, absorb shocks and adapt development approaches.
Fourth, we need to rapidly increase climate actions at every level. I will work to help strengthen the action agenda and public-private partnerships.
Fifth, Governments must quickly ratify the Paris Agreement. I am inviting all world leaders to a signing ceremony at United Nations Headquarters on 22 April. That will be the best possible way to celebrate Mother Earth Day.
Everyone here can take at least one of these steps — and so can billions of other people. Let us do our part — and empower them for our common future.