Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure for me to be here today to address the twentieth session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. I bring you the best regards of the Executive Director of UNEP, Mr. Klaus Töpfer, who unfortunately is unable to be with you here today.
The goal of the IPCC, which has been a joint initiative of WMO and UNEP since 1988, is to provide scientific assessments on climate change to a wide range of decision-makers. Last year marked a turning point in the affairs of the Panel:
· Mr. Rajendra Pachauri of India was elected IPCC Chairman, as were several new Bureau members;
· Mr. Geoffrey Love of Australia was recruited by WMO and UNEP to lead the IPCC secretariat;
· Ms. Renate Christ was re-appointed Deputy Secretary with promotion; and
· Last - but certainly not least - the Third Assessment Report was successfully completed after many years of hard work by internationally-renowned scientific and technical experts. These experts can take great pride in their accomplishment. We at UNEP are also proud that our participation in the preparation of the Report was stronger than ever before, and believe that we made valuable contributions in areas such as climate impacts, renewable energy, and response strategy costs.
The year 2002 also saw the convening of the World Summit on Sustainable Development. The Summit's Plan of Implementation recognizes climate change and its adverse effects as a common concern of humanity. The Plan also reaffirms the Climate Change Convention as the key instrument for addressing the problem, and underlines its ultimate objective of stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at levels that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. The work of the IPCC provides solid, credible scientific information to underpin these important commitments.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
This 20th session of the IPCC is taking place at a very opportune time, only ten days after the 22nd session of the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum, held in Nairobi from 3 to 7 February. The Council adopted a number of decisions that are of direct relevance to the work of the Panel.
· First the Council adopted a decision affirming its satisfaction with the excellent work of the IPCC and reiterating that UNEP should continue to support the Panel, in cooperation with the World Meteorological Organization. The decision also requests UNEP to ensure broad and effective participation of developing country experts in the IPCC process, and to continue its efforts to disseminate IPCC findings as widely as possible.
· Another decision invites governments, intergovernmental organizations, and scientific institutions to submit their views on strengthening the scientific base of UNEP. This includes the possibility of establishing an intergovernmental panel on global environmental change. As these issues are very relevant to the work of the IPCC, we very much hope to receive your ideas and suggestions.
· A decision on adaptation to climate change recognizes UNEP's responsibilities in relation to climate impact assessments and response strategies to reduce vulnerability. UNEP is called upon in particular to strengthen its activities to support regional and national activities to reduce the vulnerability of developing countries to climate change. This is crucial in light of the Third Assessment Report findings that the impacts of climate change will fall disproportionately upon the poor of the world and will exacerbate inequities in health status and access to food, clean water and other resources.
Of course, the Council adopted a number of other decisions on subjects with a bearing on climate change, ranging from engaging business and industry to sustainable development in the Arctic.
UNEP notes with satisfaction the support provided by the IPCC to the Convention on Biological Diversity through the report on Climate Change and Biodiversity, and the work to be undertaken with the Technical and Economic Assessment Panel of the Montreal Protocol on HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons).
UNEP remains fully committed to implementing all of these decisions. We will continue to work with the WMO to support the IPCC secretariat. We will continue our efforts to promote the findings of the IPCC - in particular the Third Assessment Report - in close collaboration with the media, intergovernmental partners and civil society. We will continue producing information materials, and will try to build on the national awareness-building campaigns being implemented in countries such as Sweden, England, the Netherlands, Japan and Germany. We will also strengthen our efforts to ensure effective developing country participation in the IPCC and to assist these countries in disseminating IPCC findings.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
At this meeting, important steps will be taken to advance the planning for the Fourth Assessment Report, to be completed in 2007. Feedback from the IPCC constituency on the Third Assessment Report and on future assessment needs is vital for preparing the next assessment, and can best be accomplished with the help of an effective outreach programme. I urge all governments to ensure that the IPCC remains a vigorous and productive institution, and that it continues to fulfil its mandate at the highest standard.
I wish you a successful session.