UN High Level Panel calls for multi-stakeholder engagement to combat climate change

Jul 1, 2015

Some of the delegates who attended the UN's High Level Panel on Climate Change which opened in New York on Monday June 29, 2015. Uganda's delegation was led by teh Minister for Water and Environment, Professor Ephraim Kamuntu (second left). Photo by Robert Bakiika.

NEW YORK - The UN’s High Level Panel on Climate Change opened in New York on Monday June 29th, with a strong call to promote climate action and reduce greenhouse gas emissions through multi-stakeholder engagement. The meeting, held at the UN Headquarters was attended by nearly 195 member states and various stakeholders.

In his opening remarks, President of the General Assembly, H.E. Hon. Sam Kutesa, said climate change is one of the key priorities of the September 69th UN General Assembly noting that the discussions would feed in to preparations for the UNFCCC Paris Conference in December 2015, where negotiations on a new global climate agreement will conclude.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is an international environmental treaty aimed at stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system.

Hon Kutesa cited Uganda as one of several countries which are affected by Climate Change, as the majority of its population depends on subsistence agriculture. He urged the international community to balance between adaptation and mitigation while allocating resources to ease the burden on countries that are most vulnerable to climate change but are also resource constrained. Whereas he welcomed the initial capitalization of the Global Climate Finance (GCF) facilitating, he also urged for increased mobilization of more funds to achieve scale.

Hon Kutesa further commended the European Union’s commitment to reduce GHG emissions by 40 per cent as well as the joint announcement by the US, China and G77 to decarbonize the world. He appreciated the Encyclical Letter on “care for our common future” by Pope Francis, which stressed that, “Climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all”.

In his remarks, the UN Secretary General, Mr Ban Ki-moon, urged world leaders to adopt an ambitious agreement at the Paris conference, and revealed that investors and insurers were integrating climate risks into their decisions. He however described the pace of UNFCCC negotiations as being far too slow and appealed to leaders to exercise political will and chart a way forward.

“If we fail, we will condemn our children and grandchildren,” he said.

Uganda was represented at the meeting by a high level delegation comprising of government officials and members of the civil society led by Prof Kamuntu, Minister for Water and Environment. Part of the delegation was sponsored by UNDP Uganda as part of its technical and financial support to Government of Uganda.

In his remarks, Prof Kamuntu highlighted the impact of climate change in Uganda, which has led to the melting of glaciers on Mountain Rwenzori and massive soil erosion and landslides on Mt Elgon and its surrounding areas. While noting that climate change is a generational challenge, the minister however was confident more discussion would trigger the necessary political will to ink a global agreement.

The Panel was informed that Uganda had approved the second National Development Plan – also produced with UNDP’s financial and technical contribution – which has mainstreamed climate change in all sectors. Uganda, he said, has already developed and adopted a Policy on Climate Change, while a green growth strategy is also underway and will be complete by the end of the year. The country however needs more than 4bn dollars in the next 15 years for adaptation and mitigation, according to Prof. Kamuntu.

“Private Public Partnerships (PPPs) are the engine of economic growth and an enabling environment for them to thrive”, he urged.

Key Highlights of the High Level Panel Meeting on Climate Change

 “Islands that never experienced storms are now witnessing extremely high tides. Some parts, villages have had to relocate due to erosion” - H.E. Anote Tong, President of Kiribati.

“After the failure of COP15, we have moved step by step and developed the negotiating text. Am sure, we will shrink the text in the next ADP sessions” - Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Minister of the Environment and President of COP20

2015 will have 3 outcomes: in New York (SDGs), Addis (fFD-3) and Paris (2015 Agreement). National differences have to be taken into account. Financial commitments in form justice, justice in equity, adaptation must be accorded attention just like Mitigation. I hope to say. “Paris Agreement is now adopted” - Mr. Laurent Fabius, and COP 21 President elect, France.

“It is necessary for political leaders to create the impetus to have a shining agreement. The global agreement is not punitive but rather facilitating in nature… recognizing initial actions by countries. Governments must respond to adaptation and loss and damage” – Ms Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary, UNFCCC.


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