New York

31 March 2021

Deputy Secretary-General's opening remarks at Climate and Development Ministerial Meeting [as prepared for delivery]

Distinguished delegates,

I thank the United Kingdom and COP President Designate Alok Sharma for convening this Ministerial and inviting me to share with you the climate priorities of the United Nations on the road to Glasgow.

The countries here today are among those most vulnerable to the impacts of the climate crisis.

You advocated for the 1.5 degree Celsius temperature goal as the safest threshold for people and planet.

Securing the 1.5 degree goal in the Paris Agreement was just the first step. We now need to spare no effort to achieve it in this ‘make-or-break year.’ 

Equally important is the lived reality many already face. This is why we need a major breakthrough on adaptation and resilience. We must deliver concrete action now to protect the most vulnerable from more severe and frequent climate impacts.

Yet, while support for adaptation and resilience is a moral, economic and social imperative, it receives just one fifth of total climate finance.

And climate finance flowing to Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States stands at 14 per cent and 2 per cent respectively.

And, one person in three is still not adequately covered by early warning systems.

And women and girls, who make up 80 per cent of those displaced by the climate emergency, are all too often excluded from decisions that can help overcome this crisis and prevent the cost.

We cannot wait until 2030 or 2050 to rectify these failings.

In this consequential year for climate and recovery, we have a unique opportunity.  Our host, the United Kingdom, wears two important hats – President of the multilateral climate process and of the G7.

Let us seize this opportunity to secure the breakthrough that the Secretary-General has called for.

The United Nations has identified and proffered five concrete and achievable actions that, together, can transform the ability of countries to respond to the climate emergency.

First, by the G7 Summit, all donors, and, by COP 26, national and multilateral development banks, should commit to increase the share of climate finance for adaptation and resilience to at least 50 per cent of their total climate finance support.

This includes a call for G7 members to double their public climate finance for the period from 2021 to 2025 through new pledges that also include a doubling of grants. COP 26 must signal that the world is on track to meet and exceed the $100 billion dollars a year goal promised over a decade ago.

We also call on the G7 to meet its 0.7 percent ODA target, which is vital to achieving the 2030 Agenda and for which the G7 must lead the way.

Second, access to climate support must be streamlined, transparent and simplified, especially for the most vulnerable.

Third, we need a significant scale-up of existing catastrophe-triggered financial instruments, such as the CCRIF and ARC, while designing creative new instruments that incentivize resilience-building.

Fourth, developing countries must be empowered with the tools and means to embed climate risks in all planning, budget, procurement and investment processes. Risk information is the critical first step for risk reduction, transfer and management. 

Fifth, we need to support locally and regionally led adaptation and resilience initiatives in vulnerable countries, cities and communities at the frontlines of climate disruption. We must support efforts that provide local actors, including indigenous people, women and youth, with a much greater voice in the decisions that most affect them.

We cannot deliver a decade of transformation when so many developing countries face crushing levels of debt. So we welcome recent calls for a massive injection of liquidity and extensive debt relief based on real vulnerability that provides vulnerable countries, including Middle Income Countries, the resources and fiscal space they need. Equally important will be transforming the international debt architecture so that it ensures all can emerge from this crisis with an equal chance of building back better and differently.         

 Just as this group of climate vulnerable developing countries ensured ambition in the Paris Agreement five years ago, I hope you will push again today for a concrete outcome that is bold, decisive and ambitious. 

Seize this opportunity today to set out what must be delivered this year to ensure an inclusive and climate resilient transition for all.  Time is running out to meet the ambition and promise of Paris.

I very much look forward to working with you all to achieve the success people and planet deserve at COP26.