Monthly Archives: December 2015

Historic Paris Agreement on Climate Change

COP21_DSC7501An historic agreement to combat climate change and unleash actions and investment towards a low carbon, resilient and sustainable future was agreed by 195 nations in Paris today.

The Paris Agreement for the first time brings all nations into a common cause based on their historic, current and future responsibilities.

The universal agreement’s main aim is to keep a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The 1.5 degree Celsius limit is a significantly safer defense line against the worst impacts of a changing climate.

Additionally, the agreement aims to strengthen the ability to deal with the impacts of climate change.  

To reach these ambitious and important goals, appropriate financial flows will be put in place, thus making stronger action by developing countries and the most vulnerable possible, in line with their own national objectives.

“The Paris Agreement allows each delegation and group of countries to go back home with their heads held high. Our collective effort is worth more than the sum of our individual effort. Our responsibility to history is immense” said Laurent Fabius, President of the COP 21 UN Climate change conference and French Foreign Minister.

The minister, his emotion showing as delegates started to rise to their feet, brought the final gavel down on the agreement to open and sustained acclamation across the plenary hall.

French President Francois Hollande told the assembled delegates: “You’ve done it, reached an ambitious agreement, a binding agreement, a universal agreement. Never will I be able to express more gratitude to a conference. You can be proud to stand before your children and grandchildren.”

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said: “We have entered a new era of global cooperation on one of the most complex issues ever to confront humanity. For the first time, every country in the world has pledged to curb emissions, strengthen resilience and join in common cause to take common climate action. This is a resounding success for multilateralism.”

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said: “One planet, one chance to get it right and we did it in Paris. We have made history together. It is an agreement of conviction. It is an agreement of solidarity with the most vulnerable. It is an agreement of long-term vision, for we have to turn this agreement into an engine of safe growth.”

“Successive generations will, I am sure, mark the 12 December 2015 as a date when cooperation, vision, responsibility, a shared humanity and a care for our world took centre stage,” she said.

“I would like to acknowledge the determination, diplomacy and effort that the Government of France have injected into this remarkable moment and the governments that have supported our shared ambition since COP 17 in Durban, South Africa,” she said.

Agreement Captures Essential Elements to Drive Action Forward

The Paris Agreement and the outcomes of the UN climate conference (COP21) cover all the crucial areas identified as essential for a landmark conclusion:

  • Mitigation – reducing emissions fast enough to achieve the temperature goal
  • A transparency system and global stock-take – accounting for climate action
  • Adaptation – strengthening ability of countries to deal with climate impacts
  • Loss and damage – strengthening ability to recover from climate impacts
  • Support – including finance, for nations to build clean, resilient futures

As well as setting a long-term direction, countries will peak their emissions as soon as possible and continue to submit national climate action plans that detail their future objectives to address climate change.

This builds on the momentum of the unprecedented effort which has so far seen 188 countries contribute climate action plans to the new agreement, which will dramatically slow the pace of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The new agreement also establishes the principle that future national plans will be no less ambitious than existing ones, which means these 188 climate action plans provide a firm floor and foundation for higher ambition.

Countries will submit updated climate plans – called nationally determined contributions (NDCs) – every five years, thereby steadily increasing their ambition in the long-term.  

Climate action will also be taken forward in the period before 2020. Countries will continue to engage in a process on mitigation opportunities and will put added focus on adaptation opportunities. Additionally, they will work to define a clear roadmap on ratcheting up climate finance to USD 100 billion by 2020

This is further underlined by the agreement’s robust transparency and accounting system, which will provide clarity on countries’ implementation efforts, with flexibility for countries’ differing capabilities.

“The Paris Agreement also sends a powerful signal to the many thousands of cities, regions, businesses and citizens across the world already committed to climate action that their vision of a low-carbon, resilient future is now the chosen course for humanity this century,” said Ms Figueres.

Agreement Strengthens Support to Developing Nations

The Paris Agreement underwrites adequate support to developing nations and establishes a global goal to significantly strengthen adaptation to climate change through support and international cooperation.

The already broad and ambitious efforts of developing countries to build their own clean, climate-resilient futures will be supported by scaled-up finance from developed countries and voluntary contributions from other countries.

Governments decided that they will work to define a clear roadmap on ratcheting up climate finance to USD 100 billion by 2020 while also before 2025 setting a new goal on the provision of finance from the USD 100 billion floor.

Ms. Figueres said. “We have seen unparalleled announcements of financial support for both mitigation and adaptation from a multitude of sources both before and during the COP. Under the Paris Agreement, the provision of finance from multiple sources will clearly be taken to a new level, which is of critical importance to the most vulnerable.”

International cooperation on climate-safe technologies and building capacity in the developing world to address climate change are also significantly strengthened under the new agreement.

Signing the Paris Agreement

Following the adoption of the Paris Agreement by the COP (Conference of the Parties), it will be deposited at the UN in New York and be opened for one year for signature on 22 April 2016–Mother Earth Day.

The agreement will enter into force after 55 countries that account for at least 55% of global emissions have deposited their instruments of ratification.

Cities and Provinces to Companies and Investors Aligning

Today’s landmark agreement was reached against the backdrop of a remarkable groundswell of climate action by cities and regions, business and civil society.

During the week of events under the Lima to Paris Action Agenda (LPAA) at the COP, the groundswell of action by these stakeholders successfully demonstrated the powerful and irreversible course of existing climate action.

Countries at COP 21 recognised the enormous importance of these initiatives, calling for the continuation and scaling up of these actions which are entered on the UN-hosted NAZCA portal as an essential part in the rapid implementation of the Paris Agreement.

The LPAA and NAZCA have already captured climate actions and pledges covering:

  • Over 7,000 cities, including the most vulnerable to climate change, from over 100 countries with a combined population with one and a quarter billion people and around 32% of global GDP.
  • Sub-national states and regions comprising one fifth of total global land area and combined GDP of $12.5 trillion.
  • Over 5,000 companies from more than 90 countries that together represent the majority of global market capitalisation and over $38 trillion in revenue.
  • Nearly 500 investors with total assets under management of over $25 trillion

Christiana Figueres said: “The recognition of actions by businesses, investors, cities and regions is one of the key outcomes of COP 21. Together with the LPAA, the groundswell of action shows that the world is on an inevitable path toward a properly sustainable, low-carbon world.”

More Details on the Paris Agreement

  • All countries will submit adaptation communications, in which they may detail their adaptation priorities, support needs and plans. Developing countries will receive increased support for adaptation actions and the adequacy of this support will be assessed.
  • The existing Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage will be significantly strengthened.
  • The agreement includes a robust transparency framework for both action and support. The framework will provide clarity on countries’ mitigation and adaptation actions, as well as the provision of support. At the same time, it recognizes that Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States have special circumstances. 
  • The agreement includes a global stocktake starting in 2023 to assess the collective progress towards the goals of the agreement. The stocktake will be done every five years.
  • The agreement includes a compliance mechanism, overseen by a committee of experts that operates in a non-punitive way.

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COP21: UN chief calls on civil society to keep governments accountable on climate commitments

Members of the International Indian Treaty Council ask for indigenous peoples rights to be respected at the UN climate change conference Meeting with civil society groups today at the United Nations climate change conference (COP21), Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he counts on grassroots organizations to help keep governments accountable, so they implement what they have committed to in words.

“One of the very valuable lessons that I’ve learned as Secretary-General during the last nine years is that no government, no international organization, can do its work properly without active engagement and support from civil society,” Mr. Ban told members of non-governmental organizations in Paris, alongside Al Gore, the former Vice-President of the United States and Chair of the Climate Reality Project.

On behalf of civil society groups, Mr. Gore thanked the Secretary-General for his tireless leadership to solve the climate crisis: “I’ve had the opportunity to work with you for quite a few years now and not many people know the focus and constant dedication that you have had to this issue,” he said.

The former Vice-President also presented a petition signed by 6.2 million people from around the world, as well as a joint statement on behalf of all civil society groups at COP21. It stated that these millions of individuals are “demanding a strong agreement that will shift the world away from carbon pollution and rapidly towards climate solutions.”

Noting his appreciation for the signatures, the UN chief highlighted that he thinks the world is standing at a very critical moment: “I’m hopeful and I’m reasonably optimistic that we’ll be able to have for the first time in the history of the United Nations a universal and very ambitious climate change agreement which will make our lives healthier and more prosperous.”

Since the beginning of last week, government representative have been negotiating a new agreement with the goal of limiting global temperature rise to less than two degrees Celsius. Yesterday, Laurent Fabius, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs and President of COP21, said the intention is to have an adopted agreement by Friday.

“We would not be where we are today here in Paris, with 196 Parties poised to adopt a global climate change agreement, without the leadership and vision of civil society,” Mr. Ban insisted, adding that after Paris is over, their voices will be needed more than ever.

He also underlined civil society’s critical role in driving climate action on the ground: “You have provided examples of new ways of working and innovative new solutions that are creating a greener, more sustainable world. I urge you to continue to demand more from all Governments,” the UN chief stated.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Director of Avaaz, a global web movement, told Mr. Ban she was at COP21 representing over three million people who are calling for 100 per cent clean energy by 2050.

“That ambitious goal is for them the metric of success, but they’re watching for something else – this conference can be a renewed level of hope in the UN process and the ability of governments to come together and cooperate,” said Emma Ruby- Sachs. “It’s greater than climate. This is about how we solve global problems.”

Holding back tears, Ms. Sachs also told the Secretary-General that she is expecting her first child in a couple of months, and she wants the next generation to feel hopeful about their planet.

The Secretary-General’s message on Human Rights Day

Human Rights Day 2015Amid large-scale atrocities and widespread abuses across the world, Human Rights Day should rally more concerted global action to promote the timeless principles that we have collectively pledged to uphold.

In a year that marks the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, we can draw inspiration from the history of the modern human rights movement, which emerged from the Second World War.

At that time, President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the United States identified four basic freedoms as the birthright of all people: freedom of expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear.  His wife, Eleanor Roosevelt, joined forces at the United Nations with human rights champions from around the world to enshrine these freedoms in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Today’s extraordinary challenges can be seen – and addressed – through the lens of the four freedoms.

First: freedom of expression, which is denied to millions of people and increasingly under threat. We must defend, preserve and expand democratic practices and space for civil society. That is essential to lasting stability.

Second: freedom of worship. Around the world, terrorists have hijacked religion, betraying its spirit by killing in its name. Others are targeting religious minorities and exploiting fears for political gain.  In response, we must promote respect for diversity based on the fundamental equality of all people and the right to freedom of religion.

Third: freedom from want still plagues so much of humankind. World leaders in September adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with the aim of ending poverty and enabling all people to live in dignity on a peaceful, healthy planet. Now we must do everything possible to realize this vision.

Fourth: freedom from fear. Millions of refugees and internally displaced persons are a tragic product of the failure to fulfil this freedom. Not since the Second World War have so many people been forced to flee their homes. They run from war, violence and injustice across continents and oceans, often risking their lives. In response, we must not close but open doors and guarantee the right of all to seek asylum, without any discrimination. Migrants seeking an escape from poverty and hopelessness should also enjoy their fundamental human rights.

Today we reaffirm our commitment to protecting human rights as the foundation of our work. This is the spirit of the UN’s Human Rights up Front initiative, which aims to prevent and respond to large-scale violations.

On Human Rights Day, let us recommit to guaranteeing the fundamental freedoms and protecting the human rights of all

The Secretary-General’s message on International Anti-Corruption Day

International Anti-Corruption Day 2015Global attitudes towards corruption have changed dramatically.  Where once bribery, corruption and illicit financial flows were often considered part of the cost of doing business, today corruption is widely — and rightly — understood as criminal and corrosive. The new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, our plan to end poverty and ensure lives of dignity for all, recognizes the need to fight corruption in all its aspects and calls for significant reductions in illicit financial flows as well as for the recovery of stolen assets.

Corruption has disastrous impacts on development when funds that should be devoted to schools, health clinics and other vital public services are instead diverted into the hands of criminals or dishonest officials.

Corruption exacerbates violence and insecurity. It can lead to dissatisfaction with public institutions, disillusion with government in general, and spirals of anger and unrest.

The United Nations Convention against Corruption provides a comprehensive platform for governments, non-governmental organizations, civil society, and individual citizens. Through prevention, criminalization, international cooperation and assets recovery, the Convention advances global progress toward ending corruption.

On International Anti-Corruption Day, I call for united efforts to deliver a clear message around the world that firmly rejects corruption and embraces instead the principles of transparency, accountability and good governance. This will benefit communities and countries, helping to usher in a better future for all.

A special tribute to volunteers working on implementing new Global Goals paid on International Volunteer Day

International Volunteer Day 2015 in UzbekistanIn Uzbekistan the volunteers of various organizations: UN Volunteers (UNV), Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) celebrated the day together and held a joint workshop at the UNDP conference hall. UN RC Stefan Priesner opened the event thanking the volunteers for their devotion and congratulating them on International Volunteer Day. “The ending of year 2015 is a significant turning point when the world changes its development focus from Millennium goals to new Sustainable Development Goals, so called Global Goals. Some time ago the UN General Assembly adopted by consensus a resolution on volunteerism, making it easier to integrate volunteering in the new development agenda.“

_UNI1295UNV Programme Officer a.i. Heli Nykanen introduced the discussion topic of the workshop. The topic “Making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable” was chosen to kick start the discussion on how the Global Goal 11 could be supported by volunteers. The workshop brainstormed and developed ideas, how volunteers and ordinary citizens can contribute to help achieving Global Goal 11 that has been agreed upon by all UN Member States.

Four working groups pondered how volunteers can help making cities and communities more inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. Ideas from advocating pedestrians to use light reflectors for road safety to organizing networks of volunteers to identify safety issues were presented by the workgroup that discussed safe cities. The working group on inclusiveness suggested that volunteers could record audio books for visually impaired people or accompany people with disabilities to help them in their daily activities. To make the communities more sustainable the workshop group recommended that volunteers could educate and raise awareness on waste management and recycling with their own example. The group that pondered resilient cities suggested city gardening and campaigning for saving electricity and water.

International Volunteer Day 2015 in Uzbekistan

A global selfie campaign was launched for the day, and the selfies tagged with #IVD2015 featured on interactive map of the worldwide volunteer community www.volunteeractioncounts.org, which grew as pictures were gathered from around the globe. Volunteers from Uzbekistan featured also on the global map as they showed their support for the Global Goals in their pictures.

The Secretary-General’s message on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Idpd_poster_2015We mark this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities in the wake of the adoption of the ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This global blueprint for action summons us to “leave no one behind”.

Building a sustainable, inclusive world for all requires the full engagement of people of all abilities. The 2030 Agenda includes many issues of concern to persons with disabilities and we must work together to transform these commitments into action.

Earlier this year, the United Nations Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction recognised the key role people with disabilities can play in promoting a more universally accessible approach in disaster preparedness and response. Next year, the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (HABITAT III) will discuss a new urban development agenda to make our cities inclusive, accessible and sustainable. The voices of persons with disabilities will be critical to this process

As we look ahead, we need to strengthen development policies and practices to ensure that accessibility is part of inclusive and sustainable development. This requires improving our knowledge of the challenges facing all persons with disabilities – including through more robust, disaggregated data — and ensuring that they are empowered to create and use opportunities.

Together with persons with disabilities, we can move our world forward by leaving
no one behind.

The Secretary-General’s message on World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day 2015

This year, we mark World AIDS Day with new hope. I applaud the staunch advocacy of activists. I commend the persistent efforts of health workers. And I pay tribute to the principled stance of human rights defenders and the courage of all those who have joined forces to fight for global progress against the disease.

World leaders have unanimously committed to ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted in September. This commitment reflects the power of solidarity to forge, from a destructive disease, one of the most inclusive movements in modern history.

We have a lot to learn from the AIDS response. One by one people stood up for science, human rights and the empowerment of all those living with HIV. And this is how we will end the epidemic: by moving forward together.

The window of opportunity to act is closing. That is why I am calling for a Fast-Track approach to front-load investments and close the gap between needs and services.

To break the epidemic and prevent it from rebounding, we must act on all fronts. We need to more than double the number of people on life-changing treatment to reach all 37 million of those living with HIV. We need to provide adolescent girls and young women with access to education and real options to protect themselves from HIV. And we need to provide key populations with full access to services delivered with dignity and respect.

Every child can be born free from HIV to mothers who not only survive but thrive. Ending AIDS is essential to the success of Every Woman Every Child and the Global Strategy I launched to ensure the health and well-being of women, children and adolescents within a generation.

Reaching the Fast-Track Targets will prevent new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths while eliminating HIV-related stigma and discrimination.

I look forward to the 2016 High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on AIDS as a critical chance for the world to commit to Fast-Track the end of AIDS.

On this World AIDS Day, let us pay tribute to all those who have lost their lives to this disease by renewing our resolve to stand for justice, access and greater hope around the world.

Tashkent conference highlights modern HIV prevention and treatment methods

World-AIDS-Day 2015Over 200 national and international specialists from Denmark, India, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Russia, Switzerland and the US have joined a conference in Tashkent to discuss modern approaches to the detection, prevention and treatment of HIV. The conference is being held in commemoration of World AIDS Day, marked annually on 1 December, and the 25th anniversary of the AIDS Service in Uzbekistan.

Keynote speakers at the start of the conference today, 1 December, included Deputy Minister of Health and Chief Sanitary Doctor of Uzbekistan, Saidmurod Saidaliyev, and UN Resident Coordinator in Uzbekistan, Stefan Priesner.

In his speech, Mr. Saidaliyev told those gathered about measures taken by the government to fight HIV/AIDS in Uzbekistan. Mr. Priesner, in his turn, highlighted the importance of joint efforts to address HIV/AIDS, research in this area, prevention of the virus, protection of vulnerable groups, increasing young people’s awareness of the risks of catching HIV as well as eliminating discrimination against people living with HIV.

During the two-day conference, experts and consultants will be working in three breakout sessions and focus on the following themes: “Epidemiology and prevention of HIV”, “Modern approaches to the detection, prevention and treatment of HIV”, and “The role of NGOs in implementing medico-psychosocial and HIV prevention programs”.

Conference participants are expected to develop new methods of boosting the effectiveness of efforts on early detection and prevention of the spread of HIV, improving treatment methods aimed at helping people living with HIV (PLHIV) regain working capacity and increasing life expectancy for PLHIV.