Projected changes in Earth's climate present more than just an environmental concern, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has told the Organization of American States (OAS) meeting in Panama City, warning of the “serious social and economic implications” as well.
Addressing last night’s opening session of 37th OAS General Assembly on its theme “energy for sustainable development,” Mr. Ban said the adverse effects of climate change were already being felt in areas ranging from agriculture and food security to human health and energy, transport and industry.
Global warming, he added, could seriously impair the ability to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the set of eight internationally agreed targets for reducing social and economic ills, and could even reverse achievements in human development.
“Today all countries recognize that climate change requires a long-term global response, in line with the latest scientific findings, and compatible with economic and social development,” he said.
Mr. Ban’s participation in the annual gathering was part of a two-day visit to Panama – his first trip to Latin America as Secretary-General.
During his speech he stressed the need for partnerships to combat climate change, adding that he believed that members of the OAS were “already on the right track” in this field.
“Your region has become a world leader on biofuels, which is an area, if treated carefully, [which] has significant potential. You are successfully implementing national energy efficiency programmes to promote a better use of resources, greater environmental sustainability, and economic growth.”
The OAS, which brings together the nations of the western hemisphere, is the region’s principal multilateral forum for strengthening democracy, promoting human rights, and confronting shared problems such as poverty, terrorism, illegal drugs and corruption.
Yesterday, the Secretary-General also visited the Panama Canal, where more than 14,000 ships transit every year between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
Today he heads to Madrid for the second leg of his three-country tour. In the Spanish capital he is scheduled to meet King Juan Carlos, Prime Minister José Luís Rodriguez Zapatero and senior officials, and he will also visit the headquarters of the World Tourism Organization.
The last leg will be in Germany, where Mr. Ban will attend the summit of the Group of Eight (G8) nations at Heiligendamm and hold a series of bilateral meetings during his two-day visit next Thursday and Friday.