Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon travelled to the Ilulissat Icefjord today as he wrapped up his visit to Greenland, which was aimed at building momentum ahead of the summit he will convene in September on climate change.
Designated a World Heritage site by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the fjord is the mouth of a glacier which has been studied for more than 250 years and has contributed to better understanding of climate change.
Mr. Ban’s two-day visit to Greenland provided him with an opportunity to see first-hand the impacts of climate change, where the melting of ice sheets is accelerating.
Yesterday, Mr. Ban visited the town of Uummannaq, which is several hundred kilometres above the Arctic Circle, along with the Premier of Greenland, Aleqa Hammond, and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt.
The UN chief expressed his deep concern at the fast-moving glaciers and by the fast-melting ice cap which raises the sea level, affecting the entire international community’s environmental system.
“It’s not only Greenland’s people – it’s the people of the whole world [who] are threatened because of this rapidly changing climate change,” he said on Wednesday at a joint press encounter with the two officials.
“There may be still many studies to make, the nature and the impact of the climate change, but [there is] one, simple plain fact: climate change is happening much, much faster than we might think.”
The climate summit planned for 23 September at UN Headquarters in New York comes ahead of a conference scheduled to take place next year in Paris to agree on a global, legal climate change agreement.
Mr. Ban has invited leaders of Government, business, finance and civil society to bring bold announcements and actions to address climate change to the summit, which will focus on solutions that demonstrate how early action can result in substantial economic benefits.
“We cannot negotiate with nature. A lot of disasters, natural disasters, have happened,” he stated. “We have to take action now. The time is now, and I'm very much committed to working with world leaders.”
Following his return to New York, Mr. Ban will travel next week to Brussels, Prague and Kigali.