UNGA Holds High-Level Event on Climate Change
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"We must act with courage," UN General Assembly (UNGA) President Sam Kutesa told member States gathered at the High-Level Event on Climate Change he hosted.

He called for "bold, collective action" to "reverse the current trends and preserve our planet." The High-Level Event was convened at the midpoint between the 20th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 20) to the UNFCCC and COP 21, with the aim of providing political momentum for an ambitious climate agreement.

HLE_Web-Graphics29 June 2015: “We must act with courage,” UN General Assembly (UNGA) President Sam Kutesa told UN Member States gathered at the High-Level Event on Climate Change he hosted. He called for “bold, collective action” to “reverse the current trends and preserve our planet.” The High-Level Event was convened at the midpoint between the 20th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 20) to the UNFCCC and COP 21, and aimed to provide political momentum for an ambitious climate agreement.

Held on 29 June 2015, in New York, US, the High-Level Event also featured remarks from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who called climate change and sustainable development “two sides of the same coin” that are being addressed by “two mutually reinforcing agendas.”

Also addressing the links between these agendas, Kutesa stressed that 2015 is a critical year, “when the world’s attention is focused on the future,” adding that “a successful outcome at COP 21 will send a resounding message that the well-being of the planet must go hand-in-hand with development efforts.”

Both Ban and Kutesa focused on the building blocks, such as intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) and finance, needed to achieve an ambitious agreement and commended large emitters for coming forward with commitments. Noting some controversial issues remain to be resolved ahead of COP 21, Kutesa said “a successful outcome can be reached if all Parties engage constructively and with flexibility.” Ban reminded that the agreement must not be an “end point,” but rather a “turning point” in how the world collectively acts to address climate change.

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres also spoke at the event, asserting that “Never before has it been so evident that we can address both climate change and sustainable development with the same measures,” and urging negotiators to show leadership to “create jobs, ensure energy access, safeguard food and water, improve health and protect economic and social stability for the future.”

After the opening session, two high-level panel discussions were held. The first consisted of two segments, moderated by UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner and Global Commission on the Economy and Climate Chair Felipe Calderón, respectively. It focused on mobilizing political momentum for ambitious actions on mitigation, adaptation and means of implementation (MOI). Panelists discussed: equity; differentiation; renewable energy development; scaling action under current commitments; China’s green development strategy; anti-poverty efforts; transparency; and adequacy of support.

The second panel, on mobilizing stakeholders for ambitious actions on mitigation, adaptation and MOI, addressed the US$100 billion goal, private sector perspectives, land restoration for food security and increased resilience and falling costs of renewables. Green Climate Fund (GCF) Executive Director Héla Cheikhrouhou and Global Environment Facility (GEF) CEO Naoko Ishii spoke on the financing efforts their institutions are undertaking. Cheikhrouhou urged “significant, predictable funding” for the GCF, saying it “can play a key role in driving the transition to climate-resilient and low emission societies.”

Kutesa intends to circulate a President’s summary of the High-Level Event to all Member States and other stakeholders. The event will reconvene for its closing session on 30 June 2015. [High-Level Event on Climate Change Webpage] [UNGA President Opening Statement] [UN Press Release] [UNFCCC Press Release] [UNFCCC Executive Secretary Remarks] [GCF Executive Director Remarks] [UNEP Press Release] [UN Meeting Summary]


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