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‘Our task is not over,’ says Ban, urging action on Paris climate pledges ahead of signing ceremony

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (second left), UNFCCC’s Christiana Figueres (left), French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and President of the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP21), and President François Hollande of France (right), celebrate historic adoption of Paris Agreement. UN Photo/Mark Garten

17 February 2016 – While the international community has provided a solid foundation for the world’s response to climate change by adopting the Paris Agreement this past December, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today that it is now necessary to build on that momentum in order to secure a safer and healthier future for all.

At a briefing at UN Headquarters in New York on the high-level signature ceremony for the Paris Agreement, which he will host on 22 April, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the ceremony will provide the first opportunity for Governments to advance the process that will lead to the Agreement’s implementation and ratification.

“Now we must move from aspirations to action,” Mr. Ban said. “By implementing the Paris Agreement, we will be building the future we want – a future of shared opportunity that leaves no-one behind on a planet that is protected and nurtured for the benefit of all,” he added.

Urging the participation of all Governments at the signing ceremony, the UN chief emphasized the importance of the Agreement entering into force as soon as possible.

“The world now has a universal, fair, flexible and durable climate agreement,” Mr. Ban said.

“For the first time, every country in the world pledged to curb their emissions, strengthen resilience and join in common cause for the common good,” he added.

In particular, the Agreement will enable the international community to “increase ambition on a regular basis,” the Secretary-General said, which is essential in order to keep global temperature rise to well below two degrees Celsius, and pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees.

“Our task is not over. In fact, it has just begun,” Mr. Ban said. “In 2016, we must go from words to deeds. The 22 April signature ceremony is an essential step,” he noted.

Emphasizing that “the cost of inaction becomes clearer every day,” Mr. Ban stressed that more extreme weather events, torrential rains and flooding, severe droughts and rising sea levels were leading to lost lives, homes, productivity and hope.

“We have no time to delay,” the Secretary-General underscored. “I urge you to ensure that the legal requirements for your leaders to have full powers to sign are in place by that date,” he said.

Mr. Ban noted that leaders from Peru, France and Morocco – the Presidents of recent UN climate change meetings, known as COP20, COP21 and the upcoming COP22 – have agreed to attend the signature ceremony, and that many other world leaders have promised their attendance as well.

“The participation of Heads of State and Government will show the world they are determined to move forward as quickly as possible,” Mr. Ban said. “It will keep the global spotlight firmly focused on climate change and build on the strong political momentum created in Paris.”

Mr. Ban added that all leaders will have the opportunity to make a national statement on the day of the ceremony. As such, he asked that leaders come ready to provide an update on how their Government will implement national climate plans and integrate them into their overall sustainable development plans, as well as provide a roadmap for increasing ambition over time to achieve the overall aim of limiting global temperature rise to well below two degrees Celsius.

He also asked leaders to be ready to indicate their Government’s timetable for ratifying the Paris Agreement, and to share how they are accelerating climate action before 2020 by drawing on the ingenuity, resources and efforts of all sectors of society.

“We need all hands on deck to meet the climate challenge,” Mr. Ban stressed. “Cities, schools, the business and investment communities, faith groups – all have a role to play.”

UN and partners to closely coordinate efforts ahead of DR Congo elections

Election Day 28 November 2011 in Bunia, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Photo: MONUSCO

17 February 2016 – The United Nations and its international partner organizations said they are closely following the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), particularly in view of the upcoming elections in the country.

In a joint press statement, the UN, the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU) and the International Organisation of La Francophonie (IOF) underscored the necessity of an inclusive political dialogue in the DRC, as well as their commitment to support the Congolese actors towards the consolidation of democracy in the country.

According to the statement, the four partner organizations “underline the crucial importance of these elections, whose peaceful, transparent, smooth and timely conduct would greatly contribute to consolidating the progress made in the DRC for more than a decade.”

Underscoring the importance of dialogue and the search for an agreement between political actors that is respectful of democracy and the rule of law, the organizations urge all Congolese political actors to “spare no effort,” within the framework of the country’s Constitution, to “ensure the successful holding of elections, preserve peace and deepen democracy, including through a political process.”

Recalling the appointment by the AU of Mr. Edem Kodjo as Special Envoy to undertake consultations on the envisaged dialogue in the DRC, the partner organizations also urge all Congolese political actors to extend him their full cooperation. They also recalled that the decision by the AU and the efforts of the Special Envoy on the ground fall within the framework of the relevant instruments of the AU, including the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.

In addition, the partner organizations said they are committed to closely coordinating their efforts in the DRC, in accordance with their principles and values, with particular regard to the promotion of democracy and the rule of law.

Life-saving humanitarian aid reaches five besieged towns in Syria – UN

In Madaya, Syria, local community members help offload and distribute humanitarian aid supplies. Photo: WFP/Hussam Al Saleh

17 February 2016 – As United Nations relief wing convoys reached five besieged towns in Syria with aid today, the Office of the UN Special Envoy for the country announced that a task force will meet for a second time tomorrow to discuss humanitarian access issues.

“Today, we reached five besieged towns in urgent need of humanitarian assistance,” the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Syria, Yacoub el-Hillo, said in a press release. “The convoys contained life-saving aid including food, medical supplies and equipment, vaccines, water and sanitation items for almost 100,000 people in need of aid.”

Praising the courage of dedicated staff on the ground, Jan Egeland Senior Advisor to UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura said “brave humanitarian workers” were able to deliver 100 truckloads. “This is hopefully the beginning of the end of Syrian civilians’ suffering,” he added.

Tomorrow’s meeting will be held at UN headquarters in Geneva and co-chaired by Mr. de Mistura and Mr. Egeland. Representatives of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), comprising the Arab League, the European Union, the United Nations, and 17 countries are expected to attend.

“Humanitarian delivery is not only important, it is essential,” de Mistura stressed. “There are now more than 400,000 people living in areas besieged by the Government, by the opposition and by Daesh.”

According to the UN, the purpose of this second meeting is to “further take stock of the status of humanitarian access to besieged areas with an initial focus on the locations referred to in the statement of the International Syria Support Group last week.”

Last Thursday in Munich, the Group called for “sustained delivery of assistance” to begin in seven besieged areas inside Syria, including the town of Madaya, which drew worldwide attention recently after UN and Red Cross workers reported people starving to death or being killed trying to flee.

“Humanitarian access to these areas will be a first step towards full, sustained, and unimpeded access throughout the country, as demanded by Security Council resolutions, the ISSG and international humanitarian law,” the Office of the UN Envoy underlined.

Mr. de Mistura also referred to today’s aid distributions as a “test for the capability of the UN to deliver humanitarian assistance and for all parties on the ground to allow this to take place, as per the decisions reached last week in Munich.”

News Tracker: past stories on this issue

Syria: UN mediator intends to resume Geneva talks next week

Source: United Nations


Karl William


United Nations  Section

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Robert Williams

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