High Level Meeting on Climate Change and the Sustainable Development Agenda
23 March 2017 (9:30 am to 6:00 pm) United Nations Headquarters, New York
H.E. Ms. Hirut Zemene, State Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
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H.E. Ms. Hirut Zemene delivers the statement.
H.E. Mr. Peter Thomson, President of the General Assembly of the United Nations,
H.E. Mr. Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations,
H.E. Ms. Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC),
At the outset, let me thank the President of the General Assembly for convening this High-Level Meeting entitled “Climate Change and the Sustainable Development Agenda”, in collaboration with the Secretariat of the UNFCCC. We are indeed hopeful that this meeting would contribute to deepening political commitment to the implementation of the ambitious 2030 Development Agenda and the Paris Climate Change Agreement in an integrated manner. These two achievements were truly historic. It is imperative, therefore, to maintain and accelerate the momentum that was created through the revitalization of global partnership and thus, by translating our commitments into concrete actions that leave no one behind.
The Sustainable Development Agenda and the Paris Climate Agreement compliment and reinforce each other. Both aim at ensuring inclusive and sustainable development by promoting long-term and environmental-friendly policies to achieve prosperity for all. Both climate change and poverty are the greatest challenges of our time. And these universal challenges necessitate universal approach. Therefore, addressing them requires the widest possible international cooperation.
Ethiopia is the current President of the Climate Vulnerable Forum and the Vulnerable 20. Let me share with you the views of our more than 40 members, representing one billion climate vulnerable people.
It is self-evident that for climate vulnerable countries, climate change is not a mere concern in relation to the impediment it presents to development. It is that. But it goes much further than that in the sense that it is an existential matter — it is a matter of the very survival of our nations. In Paris, we agreed to take “an effective and progressive response to the urgent threat of climate change on the basis of the best available scientific knowledge.” And, let me stress that science is clear; the vast majority of scientists around the world agree that climate change is happening; and it is changing at a faster rate than ever recorded in human history because of our activity. Therefore, we simply cannot afford to continue with business as usual. Taking an urgent and concerted action is not a matter of choice but a necessity.
The negative impacts of climate change are already undermining the ability of all countries, particularly climate vulnerable countries, to achieve sustainable development. We witness it in our countries when its effects threaten the existence of our communities and undermine our hard-won developmental gains.
It is, therefore, important to underscore that this is not the time to doubt the devastating impacts of climate change. It is time to take comprehensive actions to combat climate change and its impacts. This requires enhanced political determination, from all countries, particularly from developed countries, so that our planet can support the needs of the present and future generations. In this regard, the Paris Climate Agreement is a historical opportunity we must seize to reinvigorate a global partnership and solidarity with the view to ensuring its full implementation.
Let me conclude, Mr. President, by stressing though their contribution to climate change is insignificant, it is the most vulnerable countries that suffer the disproportional impacts of climate change. According to the Paris Climate Agreement, developed countries should provide additional financial assistance and technology to climate vulnerable countries to support implementation of adaptation and mitigation programs. This is a universal commitment that needs to be respected. It is our hope, though the prevailing global situation is somewhat in flux that the commitments would be honored and we would see in practice the revitalization of international partnerships to which we are all committed when we endorsed the 2030 agenda.
I thank you