Mr. Chairman,
Your Excellency, Ambassador Abulkalam Abdul Momen, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations and Chair of the LDCs Group,
Your Excellency, Ambassador Oumar Daou, Permanent Representative of Mali and Chair of the LLDCs Group,
Your Excellency, Ambassador Dessima Williams, Permanent Representative of Grenada to the United Nations and Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS),
Distinguished Panelists,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my singular honor to be with you at this seminar on “Countering Climate Change Vulnerability:Obligations and Opportunities in Implementing a post 2012 Agreement”. This seminar couldn’t have been timelier. It is taking place a few days before the UN High-level Event on Climate Change slated for 22 September and few months before the United
 Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark later this year.
Today, I would like to talk about the climate change challenge, its projected impact on the group of the most vulnerable countries, particularly the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs), and the Small Island Developing States (SIDS), and what practical measures could be pursued to minimize its impact on these countries.
Mr. Chairman,
Around the globe, weather patterns are shifting, temperatures are climbing, and sea levels are rising. If we do not act now, climate change will permanently alter the earth structure we all depend upon for our survival.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The impact of climate change does indeed affect all of us. However, people living in LDCs and SIDS are the most vulnerable to these effects. This is despite the fact that they contribute least to global warming.
Moreover, climate change presents significant threats to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. For example, reduction in agricultural yield, livestock and fish supply arising from environmental degradation would undermine food security and exacerbate already high levels of poverty. Furthermore, more frequent floods and drought would lead to increased water scarcity, thus undermining the achievement of MDG 7.
Mr. Chairman,
Sea level rise is a key concern for SIDS and some coastal regions in LDCs. In contrast to larger countries, a natural disaster in a small island can lead, inter alia, to a complete breakdown of economic processes and to extensive environmental damage. Climate change can affect the local resources of small islands, such as fishery resources, lead to deteriorating coastal conditions and coral bleaching, reduce fresh water resources and threaten vital infrastructure. Thus, climate change threatens the very existence of these fragile entities of the world community.
Ladies and gentlemen,
 This is a situation that the world cannot ignore. Climate change is a global problem that requires a comprehensive global approach with all the countries contributing to the resolution of the problem, in line with the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” embodied in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol.
Nearly three months from today, world leaders will be meeting in Copenhagen to conclude negotiations begun in 2007 for a new international climate agreement to replace the Kyoto protocol in 2012. If global efforts to address climate change are to be sustained and succeed they must be based on the principles of fairness and equity. Those countries that contribute most to greenhouse gas emissions must assume greater responsibility to clean up the planet.
The leaders of the G-8 agreed in July to keep the global temperature increase within two degrees centigrade by the year 2050. They have also agreed to cut green house gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. These are steps in the right direction, but more needs to be done, especially given the pace at which climate change is occurring. Short and medium term targets need to be set if these long term goals are to be realistic.
The acute vulnerabilities of LDCs and SIDS make the burden of adapting to the growing threats posed by climate change more onerous. In this regard, adequate financial resources need to be providedto enable LDCs and SIDS adapt to climate change. Currently available resources for climate change adaptation and mitigation are inadequate. However, given that, SIDS and LDCs can not afford the cost of adaptation to the effects of climate change which is estimated for the LDCs at 5-10 per cent of their GDP, additional resources would be required to enable them to adapt to climate change. However, this should not lead to a diversion of resources from MDGs, and other important development agendas.
In this regard, the Least Developed Countries Fund for climate change (LDCF) and the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) should be adequately replenished to enable LDCs and other vulnerable countries adapt to climate change. Furthermore, given the acute vulnerabilities of SIDS to climate change, there is a need to establish a special fund for SIDS similar to the one for LDCs in order to address their adaptation priorities.
Equally important is technology transfer to developing countries to ensure that they pursue greener paths to their growth and development. This also one of the pillars of the Bali roadmap and should form a central plank of the Copenhagen outcome.
For the LDCs, LLDCs, and SIDS, the best way to adapt to climate change is to promote broad-based and sustained development through economic diversification and structural transformation. It is important to state here that there need not be trade-offs between LDC’s, LLDCs and SIDS’ development objectives and climate change adaptation and mitigation.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The science is clear. We know what to do and how to do it. We have the capacity. We have finance. We have the technology. What is needed is the political will.
That is why the U.N Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki Moon will be convening a High level event on climate change this month, to try to mobilize much needed political will for our common endeavor.
Climate change will also be an important priority issue for the Fourth UN Conference on LDCs in 2011 where a renewed partnership between LDCs and their development partners will be forged.
I sincerely hope that as we move closer to the High-level Event on Climate Change on 22 September and the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009, the concerns of the LDCs, LLDCs, and SIDS will be taken into account. We should seal the deal in the advantage of the most vulnerable countries, “a deal that will be comprehensive, balanced and equitable and fair for the future of human beings”.
This is why my Office is partnering with AOSIS and the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation in organising this seminar, which is aimed at strengthening the capacities of these countries in climate change policy and related issues. I am sure that at the end of this seminar you would have received a wealth of information that would allow you to further develop well-informed positions in forthcoming climate change and development negotiations.
I thank you.