Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the opening of the “Momentum for Change” Awards ceremony in Marrakech, Morocco, today:
Thank you so much for the opportunity to be with you today. I especially thank United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa for hosting and supporting this wonderful initiative.
I have attended five Lighthouse Activity ceremonies in recent years, including at Paris. They are among my favourite events at these climate conferences. I am consistently impressed by the ingenuity of the winners.
This is my tenth and final Conference of Parties. It feels different from all the others. We have entered the era of implementation. My message to all the different meetings I am attending is: turn words into action; make good on promises; realize the vision of Paris so that we can create a better future for all.
I thank all members of civil society who helped bring us this far. And I call on you to keep pushing for progress. We have no time to lose. The cost of inaction becomes clearer every day: more extreme weather events, higher sea levels, lost lives, homes and hope.
The Paris Agreement provides a clear direction of travel. We need all partners to get to our destination. We can reap a double dividend by taking climate action. We can benefit from the many opportunities offered by a low-emission future. And we can drive progress across the Sustainable Development Goals.
I am truly inspired by the “lighthouse activities” we are here to celebrate. They show innovation at its best. I congratulate all the award winners selected this year. They are advancing progress on the three core areas of Momentum for Change: women’s leadership, innovative climate finance and information and communications technology climate solutions.
These winners come from across the world with a range of solutions, from local community projects to initiatives with some of the world’s largest companies. There’s an ingenious project to help communities on the edge of Morocco’s Sahara desert by harvesting fog from the air for drinking water. There is a Swedish city that’s become the world’s first city to issue green bonds. And a project in Malaysia started by Ericsson, the communications company, that uses sensors in an innovative way to help restore dwindling mangrove plantations. There are solar-related projects in the United States and the United Republic of Tanzania.
These are the kinds of solutions we need to power a more sustainable and climate-resilient future. The winners have shown how all sectors of society can help meet the defining challenge of our time. They prove that investing in people — especially young people — will shape history.
Let us take inspiration from these shining examples that provide true “Momentum for Change”. Together, I am confident we can create a safer, more equitable and prosperous world for all.
Thank you for your leadership and your commitment.