Paris, France

10 December 2015

Secretary-General's press encounter with Civil Society [scroll down for Q & A]

Honorable Former Vice-President Al Gore,
Ms. Emma Ruby Sachs,
Ms. May Boeve,
Dear civil society leaders with whom we have been working together.

Thank you very much for your strong commitment to work with the United Nations, to work for the people for the people of the world and to work for a very healthy planet.

Emma, we are working for your baby and many other babies who may be born, who were born already, and many other babies and children that will come to this world. 

We are very much work for them.

I was very much touched by your moving words.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

One of the very valuable lessons which I have learned as Secretary-General during the last nine years is that no Governments, no international organizations, can do their work properly without the active engagement and support from civil society. We need strong engagement and cooperation with the business community, private sector and civil society. Therefore, these tripartite partnerships are a must, essential for any successful government, for any successful community. It is a very valuable lesson that I have learned and I am learning again from today’s meeting.

They are not paid. I have not given them any instructions or whatever! They are on their own – voluntarily.

When we think about the millions of such young or old, rich and poor, people committed to work for a better world, in various areas, I cannot help but be motivated to do all that I can and should do. That’s why I’m really working very hard, from early in the morning to late in the evening.

I am also very grateful for the 6.2 million people’s signatures for the ambitious Paris agreement.

We are standing at this time at a very critical moment. I am hopeful and I am reasonably optimistic that we will be able to have, for the first time in the history of the United Nations, a universal and very ambitious climate change agreement which will make our human beings’ lives healthier, more prosperous, breathing cleaner air and also making our planet Earth healthy. This is our commitment.

The people of the world are demanding action.  The time for action is now, not tomorrow.

They have called for leaders to lead and to do what is needed to protect our common home.

Civil society groups have called for an equitable, binding and ambitious global agreement that will protect the poorest and the most vulnerable and help build a safer and more sustainable future.

I respect, honour and commend your commitment to protecting the environment that sustains us and creating a world of hope and opportunity where no one is left behind.

Without such strong commitment by civil society, we would not be standing here today in Paris, with 196 Parties now poised to adopt a global climate change agreement. I thank you very much for your support.

What is more important is that after Paris, as Vice-President Al Gore said, it may just be the beginning but it may be more than just a beginning. It may be decisive turning point for efforts to make this world better. The more important thing will be the full and thorough implementation of what they will have agreed on in Paris.  I count on your continuing support and engagement.

Raise your voice. I might have sometimes limits to raise my voice as high and strong as I want. There are many very complicated politically sensitive dimensions.

But you don’t have any limits. Raise your voice! I will fully support you.

And make your Government, community and business leaders accountable for your future.

They must implement in deed what they have committed to in words.

Civil society also has a critical role in driving climate action on the ground.

You are working with cities and communities at the grassroots, supporting their efforts to reduce emissions and strengthen climate resilience.

You have provided examples of new ways of working and innovative new solutions that are creating a greener, more sustainable world.

I urge you to continue to demand more from all Governments.

Show us what is possible.

Remind Governments of their responsibility – and great opportunity – to create a better world for our children and generations to come.

Thank you for your courage, your commitment and your leadership.

Q: I just wanted to know, what is the main progress you have made so far, and what are the points that are still problematic?

SG: It is in the hands of the Parties [to] the negotiations. I had a good meeting with the President of COP21, [French Foreign] Minister [Laurent] Fabius, this morning. I have been meeting so many heads of delegations here. What I understand is that, as you know, a new draft text mandated by the Member States was released and discussed yesterday. What I understand is that, based on their negotiations overnight last night, the new cleaner draft text will be released this afternoon. That may give us a much clearer picture of how soon we can have this adoption. Our target, as was announced by the President of COP21, is 6pm tomorrow. I sincerely hope there will be an adoption.

As of now, there are still some very important issues pending, like the issue of differentiation, climate financing, how ambitious this agreement should be – the level of ambitions – and there are some other issues and legalities also. 

But I am told, encouragingly, by many people, that this is doable and achievable. I have not heard from anybody who says differently. I am very much optimistic, but I hope they will come out with a very strong and ambitious and universal one, respecting the aspirations of all the people around the world. Thank you very much.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, I have been speaking to a number of people here and they are saying that there is a giant divide between the climate negotiators and the political masters, as they call them. Do you see the two coming together for a valid and legally politically binding agreement?

SG: This has always been something that has been there for many, many years. Negotiators have not been able to overcome their national perspectives. They have been generally focusing on national perspectives. My message has always been consistent, that good global solutions will help your national solution. There is no difference now between global and local. Local interests are all discussed and comes out as a global vision. The Member States in September have adopted a very visionary Sustainable Development Agenda aiming by 2030, this is a part of this – climate change. Without having a very robust, ambitious climate change agreement, all these 17 goals, visions, will not be fully implemented – not only not implemented, sometimes may be ruined. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary. We are working for the very ambitious target to meet the expectations as is recommended by science. Thank you.