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ECOSOC Addresses UN System’s Role in Providing a Coherent Climate Change Response

Jean-Marc Hoscheit, Vice-President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council. Photo credit: IISD Reporting Services

21 July 2008:

The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) continued the General Segment of

its Substantive Session with a panel discussion on “An inclusive and coherent approach to climate

change: The role of the UN system,” which was chaired by Jean-Marc Hoscheit (Luxembourg), Vice-President of

the Council. Noting the urgency of addressing the threat of climate change and

the need for system-wide action, he explained that the ECOSOC's discussion was

centered on how the UN is coordinating its response to

the post-Bali road map of negotiations.

Robert Orr, Assistant Secretary-General

for Policy Planning, Executive Office of the Secretary-General, emphasized the

interrelations between the climate, food and development challenges. He called

on countries to replace the current “business as usual” pace by an

“extraordinarily rapid” one in the climate change negotiations, and urged them

to have a constructive meeting in Poznan, Poland, in

December 2008. He highlighted the need for: increasing the number of world

leaders involved in climate negotiations; improving UN implementing capacity;

and changing individual behaviors.

Thomas

Stelzer, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency

Affairs, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, reported on the UN system's response to climate change, indicating that it was

the defining issue in sustainable development and highlighting the costs of

inaction. He listed the five focus areas for UN system activity response

identified by the UN System Chief Executives Board's (CEB) High-Level Committee

on Programmes (HLCP), namely: adaptation; technology transfer;

capacity-building; reduction of emissions from deforestation and degradation;

and mitigation finance. He referred to the online database on UN climate work

and underscored the importance of harnessing science and technology.

In the

ensuing discussion, participants addressed, inter

alia: the necessary involvement of Heads of State in climate negotiations;

the need to change the “business as usual” mentality; UN

resources for mitigation, adaptation and technology transfer; States' role in

strengthening UN coherence; UN capacity building and awareness raising efforts;

the importance of a coherent approach to climate change; and the need for the

climate change response to address energy and peacekeeping. Stelzer then introduced the CEB's Annual Overview Report for 2008 (document

E/2008/58), which provides an overview of the major developments in

inter-agency cooperation within the latest framework of the CEB, noting its focus

on climate change. He highlighted the HLCP's role in supporting the

contribution of the UN system at the Climate Change Conference in Bali in

December 2007 and indicated that the Board was currently facilitating a

coordinated approach in preparation for the Poznan Conference in December 2008.

[ECOSOC press release, 21 July 2008]