Abu Dhabi

18 January 2016

Opening remarks at Abu Dhabi Action Day

Ban Ki-moon

What a dynamic day!

I am so inspired by the presentations at the World Future Energy Summit this morning.

We saw examples of sustainable solutions around the world. I was especially impressed by the young people, young scientists. For example:

A high school in New Zealand building solar energy panels.

An academy in Korea creating rooftop gardens.

Teenagers in Somalia working on a new biogas system.

One Somali young woman said: “This is where I will put the solar panels – and it is where my future begins.”

The United Nations deeply appreciates the UAE for hosting Abu Dhabi Action Day, Sustainability Week and the World Future Energy Summit. I thank our host particularly, Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State of UAE and Special Envoy for Energy – and Foreign Minister of France and COP 21 President, Mr. Laurent Fabius, for their continuing leadership and support on climate change and more importantly climate action starting from today.

It is important that we have adopted visionary Sustainable Development Goals and also a very ambitious climate change agreement. Now this year is the first year of beginning implementation.

Merci pour votre determination et votre engagement. Shukran.

We have been working closely together for the past year – and we now riding a wave of momentum from the Paris Conference to a new, green future.

Today’s panel discussions had leaders from all the sectors we need to succeed - senior government officials, chief executive officers, researchers, reporters and individuals who care about powering our planet.

We saw the formula for success at the Paris climate conference. Many people in fact doubted whether we could ever get an agreement. It is only natural that people didn’t believe because the negotiation has been continuing for 18 years, intensive negotiations started just four years ago or seven years ago.

From widespread ignorance, we generated global understanding. And with a rousing spirit of solidarity, we came together and we proved the power of multilateralism.

Now we have a landmark Climate agreement with the potential to help generations of people and our planet itself to embark on a truly new future.

This issue will define the 21st century. I am so honoured and excited to see that all of you are part of a global push to do something even bigger than adopt a global agreement on climate change – namely to make it a reality. People should be able to feel it. That’s the main purpose of our Action Day promise.

This is the responsibility of every country, every economy and every individual. All the hands –everybody’s hands – should be on deck.

That work has already begun – in classrooms and meeting rooms, in parliaments and the private sector, online and in real time.

Governments developed national climate plans. More and more countries know that climate action boosts the economy, creates jobs, strengthens security and improves the air we breathe. That builds a healthier and more prosperous future.

The Paris Agreement was adopted just after the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. These are twin plans for transformative progress. Sustainable Development Goals are the vision. Climate Change is the commitment. This vision and commitment should go hand in hand they are part of all our grand design. This should be complemented each other if we don’t implement Climate Change agreement all these 17 goals will not be fully implemented.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The direction of travel is clear. The leaders have set the path, very clear.

The Paris Agreement has sent a clear signal that the transformation of the global economy to low-emission, climate-resilient growth is inevitable, beneficial and already under way.

The shift away from fossil fuels must start immediately.

Investments in clean energy have increased by four per cent over the last two years. That translates into $329 billion. Now we need that number to double by 2020.

This may seem like a huge challenge but it should be doable in a world where a small number of billionaires have a net worth that equals half the world’s net wealth.

Leaders from the private sector know that clean energy is a growth industry that is full of opportunity for huge returns.

I call on governments, businesses and investors to seize this opportunity. We can power the world on a path to low-carbon, climate-resilient growth.

Those that do will be the economic leaders of the 21st century.

Those that delay their decision or fail to change will be on the loser’s side of our history.

Over the next fifteen years – the period of the 2030 Agenda – the world will invest trillions of dollars in infrastructure for cities, energy and agriculture.

Every decision on investment and resource allocations must be part of the solution and directed toward low-carbon, climate-resilient growth.

The national climate plans submitted for Paris provide a good start.

I urge governments to increase their ambitions even more and higher, and translate these plans into bankable investment projects as soon as possible.

The action agenda showcased in Paris provides a model for the public-private partnerships we need to accelerate climate action.

These partnerships must be scaled up exponentially.

The United Nations will spearhead the response. We are already laying plans to mobilize results.

The United Nations stands ready to support and assist Member States in implementing the Paris outcomes and Sustainable Development Goals.

As a first step, I am convening a high-level signing ceremony for the Paris Agreement at United Nations Headquarters on April 22nd.

I invite all world leaders, presidents, prime ministers and foreign ministers to New York to build on the political momentum from Paris and to help ensure the early entry into force of the Agreement.

By working together, we can end poverty, strengthen peace, and ensure a life of dignity and opportunity for all. We can protect our planet and all our people. We can secure the green future that we owe to our children.


Ladies and gentlemen,

Earlier today, we have seen a special orchestra performed at the World Future Energy Summit here. Their instruments were all made from garbage. Their music struck a chord through its meaningful beauty.

It was said that the world saw a landfill, but they saw great opportunity.

One person can see a world choked by fossil fuels and emissions.

But a leader will see something different. A leader will see a chance to open a clean, green and sustainable future.

That is the spirit of Action Day today. That is the energy we need. That is the power we have to generate.

Let us use our power of enlightened self-interest to light up the world for our succeeding generations and for our planet earth.

I thank you for your leadership and strong engagement. Thank you very much. Shukran.