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Achim Steiner's statement to the Bureau of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Delivered at the Opening of the 43rd Session of the Bureau of the IPCC

Geneva, Switzerland - 18 April 2011

Chair and Members of the IPCC Bureau,

Secretary-General of WMO,

Your Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen:

In a few short weeks the IPCC will hold its plenary in Abu Dhabi-some six months following the Bureau meeting and plenary in Busan, Republic of Korea.

This is in important moment in the history of the IPCC-a moment to evolve the way this panel conducts and delivers its world-class assessments in order to meet the challenges of a new century.

UNEP, as one of the co-founders of the IPCC, has been unswerving in its support of the IPCC representing as it does the premier risk assessment in respect to climate change and equally importantly, impartiality.

The UN is, like many public bodies and private sector players, living with tightening budgets and financial strictures.

But support either financially or in-kind to the IPCC remains consistent with the work programme approved by the Panel.

This makes inordinate sense: The science of climate change is even more complex now than perhaps it was when the IPCC was established.

Public debate has in many ways got hotter over the past two years; a new climate agreement to date remains elusive and yet the levels of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere continue to rise.

Thus a strong, credible, communicative and modernized IPCC is needed as never before to inform policy-makers on the ramifications of their decisions and the choices available.

This is one reason why UNEP has supported the InterAcademy Council's review including financially and in cooperation with several governments.

The ball has been, since Busan, firmly in the court of the various IPCC Task Groups, now informed by feedback from governments.

The challenge of this Bureau meeting and of the meetings in Abu Dhabi is to complete this work and implement the final recommendations with vigour and with speed.

This is the best way of ensuring that Assessment Report 5 meets the highest possible standards and broadest political and public acceptance.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

UNEP's contribution over the past year has also included the full funding of the Deputy-Secretary of the IPCC and continued support for outreach.

I would like to again reiterate UNEP's interest in providing advice during the implementation of the IPCC review, especially in relation to management and governance.

UNEP is equally keen to explore areas where we can benefit from each other in part as a result of the IPCC review, such as in the science-policy interface.

For example the newly-established Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and existing processes such as Global Environment Outlook (GEO), and the Global Reporting and Assessment of the Marine Environment (GRAME).

Others include:

  • The 'Emissions Gap Assessment', which brought together the views of over 20 scientific groups about the possible "emissions gap" in 2020

  • The Integrated Assessment of Black Carbon and Tropospheric Ozone and its Precursors

  • The establishment of the Secretariat of the Programme for Research on Vulnerability, Impacts and Adaptation (PRO-VIA) to help the scientific community coordinate its research on climate impacts, vulnerability and adaptation; and

  • A 'Climate Change Science Compendium' in 2011-a response to the UNEP mandate to identify and report emerging environmental threats on the global scale.

  • The ongoing Green Economy Initiative, whose analysis and modeling is feeding into the preparatory meetings for Rio+20 in 2012.

Abu Dhabi needs to be an important milestone in the history of the IPCC.

This Bureau meeting is an opportunity to set the tone, direction and substance of that outcome in the United Arab Emirates.

Thank you.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director UN Environment Programme



Further Resources

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

UNEP Climate Change


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