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Speech by Achim Steiner, UN Under Secretary General and Executive Director UN Environment Programme, to the Plenary of the UNFCCC in Bali, Indonesia.

Bali, Indonesia, 12 December 2007 - Mr Secretary General, Honorable Presidents and Prime Ministers, COP President, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Heads of Agencies and UN bodies, ladies and gentlemen, dear colleagues and friends,

In 2007 climate change is understood as an environmental change phenomenon but one that has profound economic and social-indeed security-implications.

The reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), established by UNEP and the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) in 1998, have transformed the scientific and political landscape- this year and forever.

We are facing a challenge of extraordinary scale and of pace.

But the IPCC underlines that we are also facing an extraordinary opportunity if only we can grasp it.

An opportunity of moving towards more intelligent and sustainable consumption and production patterns.

Every generation has its challenge-this one, climate change, is ours.

Ten years ago governments adopted the Kyoto Protocol. It was a moment of huge celebration and optimism.

Ten years on the UN can say it has delivered the structures, mechanisms and creative markets instruments but there remains a gap between the promise and the reality.

Indeed we are now faced with ever sobering impact assessments-ones that may play out in a far shorter and more rapid time scale than had been imagined only a few years ago.

It is a scientific reality that demands and requests an order of political commitment, responsibility and urgency higher than we may have imagined only 12 months ago.

The UN is delivering as one in rising to the challenge under our new Secretary-General.

Collectively the UN has engaged on behalf of member states in assisting to realize what a post 2012 emissions reductions regime might look like and one that reflects the responsibilities and opportunities unfolding.

The UN is not alone.

One of the defining developments of the recent years and months is the rate at which cities, companies and citizens are also requesting solutions and a chance to maximize the opportunities for transiting to a low carbon world.

Within the last half hour, Costa Rica, New Zealand and Norway publicly reaffirmed commitments to climate neutrality.

Countries of Europe and Asia, of North America and Latin America and of Africa and of the Caribbean and the Pacific-join them under the understanding of the Rio Principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities.

But responsibilities nevertheless.

The multilateral system is certainly trying to live up to its responsibilities to support member states and establish a platform of consensus-building and greater public awareness around the climate challenge.

Support via the impartial and validated science and forward-looking economic assessments of the IPCC.

The Secretary-General's unprecedented High Level Event in which Heads of State committed to finding solutions to the climate challenge.

Through confidence-building between governments such as the accelerated freeze and phase out of HCFCs under the Montreal Protocol.

And we will continue that support to Member States in Bali and Beyond.

In collaboration with the UNFCCC, we have been building the capacity of negotiators from developing countries-it will continue.

UNEP and adaptation or climate proofing economies-we will focus and distill the latest scientific knowledge of the IPCC to establish much needed impact assessments at the regional and national level.

Ecosystems will be crucial in a climatically challenged world. UNEP will continue to not only build understanding but assist in transferring 'soft' technology on intelligent and effective ecosystem management.

We will continue to devise and define smart market mechanisms to meet the sustainable energy challenge.

We need to make progress even while the negotiations are on going and to be concluded.

UNEP will be taking forward its partnerships with the multi-trillion dollar finance and investment community in order to accelerate the transition to a more climate-friendly but also profitable global economy.

And we will accelerate the implementation of the Bali Strategic Plan on Technology Support ad Capacity Building.

Under the UN Nairobi Framework, UNEP and UNDP are already assisting developing countries to gain greater access to the carbon market.

Ministers in developing countries need swift and reliable advice on climate proofing infrastructure up to agriculture and health-we are developing this service too.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The eyes and the ears of 6.5 billion people are on this meeting via the medium of modern media.

At the last climate COP, held in Nairobi, UNEP and the World Agroforestry Centre-under the patronage of Wangari Maathai and Prince Albert of Monaco- launched the Billion Tree Campaign.

Over 1.5 billion trees have been planted. This week Indonesia planted some 80 million trees alone-proof positive that if you give the public, business and indeed governments a platform action will follow.

I sincerely believe we are in the final end game of devising an even greater stage.

One upon which governments, communities and corporations are liberated to use their ingenuity and entrepreneurialism in order to realize a low carbon and climate proofed world.

One in which we may finally get to grips with the unsustainable production and consumption patterns of the past.

One in which we unleash the greatest and most abundant commodity on this planet: namely human ingenuity.

In doing so we can transform the way we do business on this planet and not only deal with the climate change challenge but the wider sustainability issues confronting current and future generations.

The science, but also increasingly the day to day experience of millions of people, tells us climate change is a reality right now but also an opportunity that we cannot fail to take.

So why not take it now. And if not here, where? If not now, when?

 
United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia.