21 November 2013

Remarks at Cities and Sub-national Dialogue

Ban Ki-moon

I commend the COP Presidency for convening this important meeting.

Many of you in this room are working on the frontlines of climate change.

We are all familiar with the challenges.

Our shared responsibility is to turn them into opportunities.

By transforming how we plan our cities, build our homes and move our goods, we can usher in a low-carbon future that benefits people and the planet.

By building climate resilience into agriculture, we can advance food security while reducing greenhouse emissions.

Sustainable towns and cities offer substantial benefits for urban and rural areas alike, from energy and resource efficiency to public health and overall quality of life.

More than 50 per cent of the global population is now urban, and the proportion is growing, especially in Asia and Africa.

The global mobilization behind the Millennium Development Goals has generated steady improvements in the living conditions of millions of slum dwellers.

Now we must accelerate this work as the 2015 MDG deadline draws near.

We must also address the health and environmental costs of urban air pollution as cities grow and the demand for motor vehicles rises.

Integrated planning -- from government ministries to local authorities -- can point the way toward answers.

Partnerships can also make a difference. Engaging a multitude of stakeholders, from small enterprises to women and community leaders, and between the public and private sectors, must be a bigger part of the picture.

Here in Warsaw this week at COP 19, I have spoken about my concern that the world is not doing enough to meet the climate challenge. We need to make this climate action a higher priority on the political agenda and in our budgetary allocations.

That is why I will be hosting a Climate Summit next September in New York.

The Summit will bring together Heads of State and Government and global leaders from civil society, the business and finance sectors and the philanthropic community. I am urging all who come to bring bold announcements and actions.

Cities are engines of dynamism and creativity. In many respects, cities are the proving ground for our efforts to combat climate change, build resilience and achieve faster, more equitable development progress.

Cities are important across many dimensions, from energy and transport to water and sanitation to social cohesion and disaster risk reduction.

This complexity has made it difficult to channel urban issues into the climate discussion in a coherent way.

Therefore I ask all of you to work with each other to ensure that we can do precisely that – and end up with results that are commensurate with the centrality of cities.

As we look to the Climate Summit and the key years of 2014 and 2015, let us innovate, scale up and cooperate to make the global transformation we need to achieve the goal we share: thriving economies, a healthier planet, sustainable cities and a life of dignity for all.

Thank you.