11 December 2007

Remarks at the UN Development Programme (UNDP) event on the <I>Human Development Report</I>

Ban Ki-moon

We have gathered in Bali to act on the defining issue of our time. The latest Human Development Report puts it simply, yet forcefully: climate change is visible, it is global and its first victims are the poor and the defenceless.

The world’s scientists have spoken. With one voice, they have told us that the situation is grim. Urgent action is needed -- not only to ensure coverage of climate measures beyond 2012, but because the situation is so desperately serious. Any delay could push us past the tipping point beyond which the ecological, financial and human costs increase dramatically.

Yet there is a silver lining to this dark cloud. Scientists tell us that that the measures required to prevent a catastrophe are both doable and affordable. All we need is the resolve to act.

Much centres on the negotiations here in Bali. Today, we are at a crossroads, one path leading to towards a comprehensive new climate agreement and the other towards oblivion. The choice is clear.

This Conference must be the starting point for intense negotiations driven by an agreed agenda. These negotiations should be comprehensive and inclusive, and should lead to a single multilateral framework that is commensurate with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s findings.

Any agreement will have climate change mitigation as a core element. But we must also address the changes that are already occurring. Both mitigation and adaptation are central to a sound response, with financing and technology as key tools. There is also an urgent need for broad dissemination of technology and for innovative financing arrangements, including incentives for avoiding deforestation.

As the Bali delegates discuss the way forward, the Human Development Report can help them understand what is truly at stake. As the Report explains, we face not just an environmental problem, but a threat to humanity’s highest values.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted 59 years ago yesterday, speaks movingly of the inalienable human right to “freedom, justice and peace”. Today, climate change poses the greatest long-term danger to these core values and to the cause of human development.

So, if we care about peace and security, if we demand development and if we are passionate about human rights, then we have but one option: we must make climate change our highest international priority and we must demand that our leaders deliver on this issue, here in Bali and well beyond.