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UN Leaders Discuss UN Role in Catalyzing Climate Action

un-leaders-discuss-un-role19 November 2013: The UN organized a discussion on the 'UN System as a Catalyst for Climate Action: Promoting Sustainable Low-Carbon Development' as a side-event during the Warsaw Climate Change Conference.

UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner welcomed participants, and COP 19 President Marcin Korolec highlighted the UN system as a catalyst in mobilizing sustainable development, outlining linkages between the post-2015 development agenda process and negotiations under the ADP. He highlighted the work to be done in the second week of the Warsaw Climate Change Conference towards an ambitious global agreement that addresses the defining issue of our era and ensures it does not undercut sustainable development.

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres said this has to be the development banks and the UN's obsession, stressing the world is running out of time. Helen Clark, Administrator, UNDP, discussed national actions and how to scale-up programmes. She highlighted that countries look to the UN to act in an integrated way, saying that if integrated approaches are being asked of countries, the UN should be asking no less of itself.

World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Secretary-General Michel Jarraud addressed how science can contribute, given the relative imperviousness of policymakers to climate realities. He highlighted the tragic event of Typhoon Haiyan, noting while it cannot be attributed to climate change that it is consistent with what is expected from climate change.

Rachel Kyte, Vice President of Sustainable Development, World Bank, stressed that there must be demonstrated flows of public climate finance to leverage private sector investment, adding that it will not matter if trillions and trillions flow in the opposite direction through fiscal policy, such as through pension fund investments and subsidies.

René Castro Salazar, Minister of Environment and Energy, Costa Rica, said transformative change in Costa Rica required extensive changes to legal frameworks, resulting in expansion of natural forests, and extension of electrification, health and social benefits. Henry Verhaar, Philips Lighting, highlighted their leadership on the transition to compact fluorescent (CFL) light bulbs and light emitting diodes (LEDs). He said having all of the players together in an integrated approach was beneficial to ensuring success, stressing successful campaigns require inspiration, aspiration and perspiration.

Jarraud discussed downscaling data and information to the regional and national level to provide policymakers and farmers with concrete information. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon thanked participants for their leadership in and commitment to addressing climate change. He expressed condolences to the people of the Philippines, stressing this unexpected disaster is one of many serious impacts of climate change, saying it is not just a wake-up call but an alarm bell calling for urgent action. He said the IPCC 5th Assessment Report (AR-5) provides more clarity on the challenges of climate change, calling on nations to “just act.” [IISD RS coverage of side event]