State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Keynote Address by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Credit: David Wentworth
Credit: David Wentworth

Update | 3:37 p.m.

The break continues as the audience awaits the Secretary-General’s speech with anticipation.

Update | 3:58 p.m

And we’re back! Sachs introduces Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, with a clear respect, friendship, and a little humor to boot.

Update | 4:02 p.m.

Ban Ki-moon takes the stage.  He shares that beyond being a special adviser, “Sachs is my teacher, my tutor, on many important agendas of the UN, particularly regarding the MDGs and climate change. You might not be able to find such a committed person. I have heavily depended on his advice. He has been a strong champion to fight against poverty and climate change.

He explains that he “would like to discuss common concerns” that are not his concerns or our concerns but concerns for the world.

As he begins discussing climate change he notes his work with President Calderón.  He argues that green growth is the path for climate change. It can help us achieve the MDGs and reduce poverty.

Update | 4:10 p.m

Through a series of powerful sentences, the SG reminds us all that all these global crisis needs a global response, that no single country can address all these issues. He explains that “in today’s world we swim or sink together.”

Turning to Copenhagen, the SG recognizes that the summit had mixed reviews, but he cites the large number of global leaders gathered in one place and agreement to control temperature rise by 2 degrees by 2050.

Acknowledging US President Obama’s victory in healthcare reform, he hopes US will lead the climate change battle now that President Obama has succeeded in health care reform. The SG suggests that we must generate 30bn by 2040 to help developing countries mitigate and adapt to climate change.

SG mentions his new report “Keeping the Promise” which shows ways forward and success stories and what is required to meet the MDG in 2015.

In looking forward to what the results might show in September, he calls for a specific agenda and timeline for the last 5 years before 2015. To do this, he explains that we need to deliver on finance. In financing, we do not need any new promises. Donors have not delivered on Gleneagles and on other commitment. They need to keep these commitments first and foremost.

Update | 4:23 p.m.

The Secretary-General discusses the importance of empowering women, especially in developing countries, to drastically change the realities that people face.

“In my 30 minute speech, 30 women will have died with no reason. I am making reducing maternal mortality rate a major priority.”

SG mentions that rarely have so many individuals, CEOs, political leaders found common ground. We have unity of purpose. Let us realize that these great momentums are real goals for real people.

Back to Sachs

Update | 4:31 p.m.

The SG has been pushing to get food security back on the G8’s agenda.  On the measles initiative, the SG has personally taken major responsibility. 200m bed nets have been distributed under the SG project.

Update | 4:40 p.m.

Sachs: Help leaders keep their commitments. But, first, we need to know what the commitments are. And then raise our voices on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, newspaper columns, churches, communities.

Update | 4:35 p.m.

SG- How can we ensure delivery of commitments? We have been working very hard with leaders. It is easy to make statements but harder to act. We call these conferences successes but it take years and years to collect. Role of SG is to be collector of these promises. We need to make rules and framework.

On climate change there was heighten expectations but somehow we were not able to reach a binding treaty. “There’s no boundary in climate change.” This is why the UN has been leading this issue but they need global support. Each and everyone have a role to play. CEOs have a big role to play as well as policy makers. Students will be the leaders in the future. You have to try to raise the issues. What should the next generation look like? You have to challenge your leaders. You need to speak out. This is your responsibility.

Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

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