The lives and livelihoods of more than 60 millions people around the world have been turned upside down by the extreme weather events linked to the El Niño phenomenon, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today said, calling for a scaled-up, unprecedented response that goes beyond humanitarian action.

“Extreme weather events reverse development gains. People and communities cannot escape poverty or banish hunger if their resources are wiped out by floods, storms or droughts every few years,” the Secretary-General said at a high-level event at the UN Headquarters in New York on Responding to the Impacts of and Mitigating Recurring Climate Risks, organized by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

“Even when malnutrition is treated and children survive, they can be affected for life by stunting and impaired development. This has serious implications for education, the ability of people to make a living, and the opportunities for societies and nations to prosper and develop in a sustainable way,” he added.

El Niño is the term used to describe the warming of the central to eastern tropical Pacific that occurs, on average, every three to seven years. It raises sea surface temperatures and impacts weather systems around the globe so that some places receive more rain while others receive none at all, often in a reversal of their usual weather pattern.

We must prevent, prepare for and mitigate the effects of climate change, which has the greatest impact on those who have least responsibility for causing it.

Mr. Ban highlighted that working together to reduce disaster risk was an important thread running through last year’s political achievements, including the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

“This new way of working presents a challenge, but also provides an opportunity for progress,” the Secretary-General said, noting that many governments have shown great leadership in driving a coherent and effective emergency response to El Niño, allocating significant resources of their own, while others have been able to reduce risks and mitigate impacts so as not to require international assistance.

Still others, the UN chief said, have benefited from international solidarity expressed through resources from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), which has provided $120 million to humanitarian partners for life-saving activities linked to El Niño in 19 countries.

“We must learn from these successful practices. We must scale up our response and share the burden of climate change more equitably, demonstrating greater solidarity with those in need,” Mr. Ban said, calling on affected governments, donors, civil society, development and humanitarian actors, and private-sector partners to support the efforts of his two Special Envoys for El Niño and Climate, Mary Robinson and Macharia Kamau, in raising awareness and bringing greater resources to bear.

In an interview with UN Radio, Ms. Robinson emphasized that El Niño is a normal weather pattern that has affected countries quite severely, and is now aggravated by climate change.

“The effect is overwhelming for countries. They are suffering huge drought and, in some cases, terrible flooding that has destroyed the capacity to plant and to sow and to harvest,” she said.

Invitation aimed at accelerating entry into force of Paris Agreement

In related news today, the Secretary-General invited world leaders to a special event on 21 September to deposit their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession to the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The event will also provide an opportunity for other countries to publicly commit to joining or ratifying the agreement before the end of 2016.

The Paris Agreement, adopted by 195 parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) this past December in Paris, calls on countries to combat climate change and to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future.

via UN News Centre