08 June 2007

Opening statement at the G8 press conference

Ban Ki-moon

Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen of the media.

I am very pleased to have this opportunity to express some of my views on this summit.

This has been an important Summit, with many fruitful discussions, both official and unofficial.

As you may agree, climate change dominated our agenda. This is only fitting. Climate change, and how we address this issue, is a defining issue of our era. It is also the main reason I came here.

I wholeheartedly welcome that the G8 leaders agreed on strong and early action to combat climate change, and that the United Nations is the forum for negotiating future global action on climate change. While this is an important step, it is only a first step – a beginning, not an end.

I also welcome the agreement by the G-8 leaders to seek to conclude a global agreement under the UNFCCC [UN Framework Convention for Climate Change] by 2009. This makes 2007 even more essential, as we have much work to do to put us on the right track to achieve this.

We have an ever expanding arsenal of technologies to address the threat and also have significant resources at our disposal. What we are desperately in need of, at this time, is political will at the leaders' level to make significant emissions reductions and to help countries adapt to climate change. On both we will need leadership by the G-8 countries. The outcome of this Summit is an important first step.

Many of the participants in these meetings have recently announced new national climate change initiatives or their intent to develop one as a matter of urgency. Just as the countries' national circumstances are different, so too are their initiatives. This is fitting and I fully appreciate their efforts. As we confront the challenges of climate change, the truth is that there is likely to be no single path or solution to all our problems. New technologies, conservation and fuel efficiency programmes, carbon-trading, improving land use practices, national environmental regulation?all are part of the solution. The important thing, as I have stressed repeatedly, is that these policies be complementary and mutually reinforcing. The many strands must be woven into one cloth.

To facilitate this process, I and my Special Envoys have been consulting world leaders about the possibility of a special high-level meeting in New York. Right after this conference, when I am going to join the G8 leaders' meeting again, I am going to inform them of my intention to convene such a meeting on September 24th, the day before the opening of the General Debate. I will provide further details when I return to New York next week. This meeting will represent an important preparatory step to achieving real progress toward launching negotiations at the next Conference of Parties of the UNFCCC in Bali in December. As Secretary-General of the United Nations, I am convinced that the United Nations has a unique role to play as a bridge in finding common solutions to our shared problem.

With the decisions taken by the G-8 here at Heiligendamm we have some new momentum that must be capitalized upon. If we do not follow straight away with concrete action on the national fronts and on structuring and launching negotiations under the UNFCCC, this momentum can be lost all too easily. We must not let that happen.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to turn now to another very important issue that I came to the G-8 to discuss with leaders – the Millennium Development Goals. This year marks the mid-point of our work to realize these goals by 2015. We have far to go indeed, especially in Africa. New statistics show we are making progress, but far too slowly to achieve the MDGS in time. This is why I have offered to chair a new MDG Africa Steering Group of all the major players to help refocus our efforts to achieve the MDGs in Africa. This will include the heads of the World Bank, the IMF [International Monetary Fund], the African Development Bank and the Islamic Development Bank, the AU [African Union], as well as the UN. I will chair the Steering Group and I welcome the support offered here in Heiligendamm for this initiative.

Achieving the MDGs will also depend upon a positive outcome of the Doha Development Round of trade negotiations and by serious follow-through on debt cancellation initiatives. I look forward to leadership by the G-8 countries in this regard.

I will stop here. I will try to answer two to three questions before I return to the conference.

Thank you.