Leaders Plan for Climate Action at Abu Dhabi Ascent
5 May 2014: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) convened the 'Abu Dhabi Ascent,' a special meeting dedicated to preparing world leaders for the 2014 Climate Summit being hosted by the Secretary-General on 23 September. The 'Abu Dhabi Ascent' is the first international conference to draw on the results of the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports.
UAE's Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of State and Special Envoy for Energy and Climate Change, co-hosted the meeting with Ban from 4-5 May 2014, in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The Abu Dhabi Ascent attracted over 1,000 participants, including 100 government ministers, and representatives from civil society, business, and the finance sector. UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres, World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy on Climate Change Rachel Kyte, and UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner were also in attendance.
Participants worked in small groups to discuss initiatives and solutions in nine areas, namely: adaptation; agriculture; cities and transport; economic drivers; renewable energy and energy efficiency; short-lived climate pollutants; finance; forests; and resilience and disaster risk reduction (DRR). The best proposals that emerged from the two-day meeting will be highlighted at the Climate Summit. Ban has asked world leaders to attend the Summit and make "bold pledges" for climate action.
During the Ascent, the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) announced an initiative aimed at helping communities anticipate and prepare for disaster risks. UNISDR will partner with Esri, a California-based geographic information systems (GIS) technology company. The partnership will aid communities in their land-use planing, strategic placement of key public facilities, such as schools and hospitals, and identify risks to current infrastructure. Approximately 1,800 communities will benefit from the technology through UNISDR's Making Cities Resilient Campaign.
In remarks at the Abu Dhabi Ascent, Ban expressed his feeling that "change is in the air," and invited leaders to join in a "race to the top," noting the costs of delaying action on climate change. He qualified the Ascent as "informative and inspiring," indicating that he is counting on the "wisdom and initiative of all actors" to catalyze ambition in the remaining months before the Climate Summit.
Also addressing the meeting, UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark emphasized the high engagement of governments in the Abu Dhabi Ascent and the expressed commitment to combat climate change. She noted that the session on agriculture endorsed the inclusion of food and agriculture in the Climate Summit. [UN 2014 Climate Summit Press Release] [UN Press Release] [UN Pre-Meeting Press Release] [UNEP Press Release] [UNISDR Press Release] [UNDP Administrator Closing Remarks] [Abu Dhabi Ascent Website]