On the margins of the United Nations climate change conference (COP21) today, UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon paid tribute to the one hundred and thirty victims of the attacks which shook Paris almost one month ago.
Alongside the mayor of the city, Anne Hidalgo, Mr. Ban placed a bouquet of flowers in front of the Bataclan concert hall, and bowed his head. Tens of bystanders applauded the gesture, chanting “merci merci, Monsieur Ban Ki-moon.”
Next, the UN chief visited “La Bonne Bière," one of the targeted restaurants where five people lost their lives.
“Today, I too am Parisian,” said the Secretary-General sitting inside the café, with Mayor Hidalgo and other top UN officials. “I am very moved. To the families and loved ones of the five people who were killed here, and to all the victims of the barbaric attacks on 13 November, I present my sincere condolences.”
Drinking a coffee, he said Paris is a symbol of culture and of the “art of living,” and noted that the reopening of the café ten days ago is also symbol of resistance to terror.
“In this regard, the Government of France's decision to maintain the UN climate change conference shows its determination to uphold the values of the United Nations: liberty, peace, equality and justice,” he said.
Earlier today Mr. Ban continued his work related to the UN climate change conference (COP21), meeting with African environmental ministers. He reiterated his belief that “Africa has an enormous stake in the conference's success.”
“Your personal engagement and ownership are essential to securing the ambitious agreement that Africa's people and the entire world need,” he told them. “Already, your leadership has helped make 2015 a year of opportunity.”
Meanwhile, this morning on the banks of the Seine, Mr. Ban visited the Tara, a scientific exploration research vessel which travels the world sampling water and collecting plankton, one of the planet's major oxygen producers.
“For 10 years, Tara has sailed the oceans, monitoring the marine the changes in the ocean, particularly degradation of marine environment. They have been measuring and providing data to our scientific community to that we can better address climate change,” Mr. Ban told reporters.
On the Tara, the UN chief also spoke with a dozen children, who have family members working on the vessel.
“It is important that we must preserve our oceans healthy so that we can have a healthy and prosperous planet. Our planet is 70 per cent oceans. It is the basis of our life,” Mr. Ban stressed.
The Tara has been in Paris since November at the invitation of Mayor Hidalgo to raise awareness about COP21, and will remain on the Parisian banks through 18 December.
As the second and last week of the United Nations conference begins tomorrow, the UN chief also highlighted today that he is “optimistic and confident” that the world will have a universal and ambitious agreement, while urging Member States to look beyond their national boundaries.