Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today stressed the need for renewed multilateralism to tackle a host of global challenges, including climate change, the economic crisis and disarmament – three issues that will take centre stage during the upcoming General Assembly session.
“I believe we are at a crucial moment leading up to what promises to be a critical year for action by the global community – a year which requires decisive movement on a variety of fronts.
“I call it a time for renewed multilateralism that delivers for real people in real time,” Mr. Ban told a news conference at UN Headquarters in New York, ahead of the annual gathering of world leaders to address the major issues of the day.
Foremost among them is climate change, which Mr. Ban called “the defining challenge of our times,” adding that no issue better demonstrates the need for global solidarity.
On 22 September the Secretary-General will convene the largest-ever gathering of heads of State and government on climate change to mobilize political momentum to ensure a successful conclusion to the negotiations on a new pact to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that will culminate in Copenhagen in December.
In a later informal briefing to the General Assembly, Mr. Ban laid out four benchmarks for success in climate change talks: ambitious emission reduction targets from industrialized countries by 2020 that satisfy the scientific bottom line; providing comprehensive support for the most vulnerable; a full range of public and private resources to enable developing countries to pursue low-emissions growth; and equitable global governance to address the needs of developing countries.
“The global negotiations towards Copenhagen are moving too slowly, and time is short,” he said. “With this summit we hope to supercharge the process.”
With only 81 days until the UN climate change conference, Mr. Ban told the news conference he wanted world leaders to show they understand the gravity of climate risks as well as the benefits of acting now.
“We want them to give their negotiating teams marching orders to accelerate progress toward a fair, effective, comprehensive and scientifically ambitious global climate agreement in Copenhagen,” he stated.
Mr. Ban noted that one year on from the start of the global economic and financial crisis, there is talk of “green shoots of recovery,” and yet the data shows another picture.
“We are still not out of the woods – and this crisis is layered upon the food crisis and the [H1N1] pandemic,” he stated. “We are finding that it is not the chronic poor who are most affected, but the near and working poor, whose lives had improved significantly over the last decade.
“The near poor are becoming the new poor,” he said, noting that over 100 million more people are expected to fall below the poverty line this year.
He stressed the need to amplify the voices of the vulnerable and ensure that the world follows up on its pledges – a point he plans to hammer home both at the UN and at next week’s G-20 summit in Pittsburgh.
The Secretary-General also highlighted a “crucial window of opportunity” regarding disarmament, recalling the recent pledge by the leaders of the United States and Russia to cut their nuclear arsenals.
“More leaders are speaking out. The wind is at our back,” he said, adding that with “a strong push by the right leaders,” it will be possible to bring the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty into force.
In this regard, he said he is pleased that the Security Council – chaired by US President Barack Obama – will hold a summit meeting on 24 September to address this issue.
“Starting next week, the world will be watching,” the Secretary-General said. “The world’s people expect the UN – together with world leaders – to address the great issues of our day.”