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Leaders Stress Climate Action at UNGA High-level Debate

28 September 2012: World leaders gathered for the fourth day of the High-level Debate of the 67th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) highlighted connections between climate change and sustainable development, and called for urgent action to address climate change.

Speaking during the debate, several speakers, including Kenny Anthony, Prime Minister of St. Lucia, Hailemarim Desalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, and Jigmi Thinley, Prime Minister of Bhutan, underlined that climate change hinders sustainable development. Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Fiji, said the effects of climate change erode development gains and called for incorporating disaster risk reduction into development strategies.

Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia, recognized climate change as integral to sustainable development. Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates, emphasized the need to develop renewable energy technologies in order to achieve sustainable development. Michael Spindelegger, Minister for European and International Affairs of Austria, welcomed the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) Initiative, noting that its objectives address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and global warming.

Many speakers, including Carl Bildt, Sweden's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Eamon Gilmore, Ireland's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, Samoa's Prime Minister, Thongloun Sisoulith, Laos Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Lord Tu'ivakano, Prime Minister of Tonga, also called for urgent action. Bildt called on all nations to implement agreed outcomes, with developed nations taking the lead. Anthony supported a binding agreement on climate change with a commitment to capacity building and technology transfer. José Badia, Minister for External Relations, Monaco, stated his country's intention to ratify an agreement on a second Kyoto Protocol commitment period and to engage in negotiations on a global agreement that considers the most vulnerable. Desalegn and Narayan Kaji Shrestha, Nepal's Deputy Prime Minister, said commitments should be based on common but differentiated responsibilities. Shrestha emphasized that the Kyoto Protocol successor mechanism should ensure binding commitments and climate justice.

Others called on developed countries to reduce GHG emissions, including Denzil Douglas, Prime Minister, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Samuel Santos López, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nicaragua. Meltek Sato Kilman Livtunvanu, Prime Minister, Vanuatu, appealed to industrialized countries to close the mitigation gap. Lord Tu'ivakano, Prime Minister, Tonga, challenged the international community, particularly developed countries, to reduce GHG emissions to levels that will ensure a viable, meaningful future for the smallest and most vulnerable countries.

On financing, Sisoulith called for increased support to landlocked developing countries (LLDCs). Livtunvanu requested UN assistance for adaptation, mitigation, capacity building and financing. Kim Sung-Hwan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Republic of Korea, expressed his country's offer to host the Green Climate Fund (GCF). [Statements from UNGA 67 High-level Debate, 28 September]