25 November 2015

Secretary-General's message to Commonwealth People's Forum [delivered by Mrs. Mary Robinson, Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Climate Change]

I am pleased to send greetings to this important meeting of governance institutions and civil society representatives from the Commonwealth’s 53 Member States.

The impacts of climate change threaten to undermine hard-won development gains and the compromise the well-being and security of people, communities and nations worldwide.  Many of you know first-hand the destructive potential of climate change.  Extreme weather events are becoming more severe.  Ecosystems are imperiled.  The oceans are becoming more acidic and coral reefs are dying.

We must reduce global emissions to prevent global temperatures rising beyond 2 degrees Celsius.  We must also strengthen resilience to the current consequences of climate change and those that are to come.  That means enabling communities and countries to anticipate climate hazards and absorb shocks to protect lives and livelihoods and ensure a safer, more prosperous future.

Next week, world leaders will gather in Paris to finalize a universal and meaningful climate change agreement.  A successful Paris agreement must embody solidarity with the world’s most vulnerable and poor communities and nations – those that are on the frontlines of climate change, but have done least to contribute to the problem.  To that end, I have repeatedly called on developed countries to honour their previous finance pledges and to ensure they provide balanced support for both adaptation and mitigation needs in developing countries.

I count on you to continue to push your governments to reach an ambitious agreement in Paris that supports the most vulnerable and provides a durable, flexible and credible framework for building the low-carbon, climate-resilient economy the world needs.  There is strong momentum to build on.  Governments, civil society and the private sector are waking up to the risks posed by climate change, and to the benefits to be gained through an increased focused on strengthening resilience.  Citizens’ organizations and faith leaders are highlighting the moral imperative to protect the vulnerable and care for our common home. 

To accelerate action on resilience, we need partnerships that bring together the United Nations system, governments, the private sector and civil society.  It is imperative that we strengthen capacities to reshape development by integrating climate risks and climate-proofing infrastructure.

I thank you for your commitment to building a safer, more resilient and prosperous world and I wish you a productive conference.