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UN Secretary-General Highlights UNECE’s Role in Tackling Global Challenges

UNECE18 October 2011: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on countries of the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) to continue tackling the world's most looming issues and work together to ensure the prosperity of future generations, when addressing for the first time the UNECE Executive Committee.

Ban highlighted UNECE's “essential role" in contributing to the well-being of global society, noting that over 100 countries beyond its membership benefit from its work, “making UNECE a go-to source for improving global public goods and services." He reiterated the “five imperatives” for the years ahead, calling on UNECE to play a vital role in promoting solutions to all of them: sustainable development; preventing and mitigating conflicts; human rights abuses and the impacts of natural disasters; building a safer and more secure world; supporting countries in transition; and working to engage the talents of women and young people.

In particular, Ban acknowledged UNECE's work on the green economy and eco-innovation, environmental conventions, sustainable forestry, housing, statistics, trade facilitation, transport or energy efficiency. He added that it has the potential to fully meet the so-called 50-50-50 challenge, namely to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 50% in the first 50 years of this century when the population will have increased by 50%.

The UN Secretary-General also welcomed UNECE's contribution to the preparations for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+ 20), including the recent Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference in Astana. He indicated that he looked forward to the conclusions of the regional preparatory meeting for the ECE region that will take place on 1-2 December 2011, in Geneva.

Ban further stated that he will also "look to UNECE to help sustain global momentum to fight climate change," including through support for the new "Sustainable Energy for All initiative," launched in September 2011. He affirmed that UNECE's work on the sustainable management of water and energy resources in Central Asia, including dam safety, contributes to the UN efforts to prevent conflicts, expressing the hope that the UNECE's Water Convention become open to countries outside the UNECE region. UNECE Executive Secretary Ján Kubišqualified UNECE as "a key organization for achieving sustainable development goals."

The 44th session of the Executive Committee of the UNECE took place on 18 October 2011, in Geneva, Switzerland. [UN Press Release] [Ban's Remarks] [UNECE Press Release] [Kubiš' Remarks]