Speech by Angela Cropper , UNEP Deputy Executive Director, at the SIDA Climate Game Change Seminar
22 January, Bangkok, Thailand - Today, we are witnessing the evolution of a new global context, characterized by the current financial crisis and its implications for economies, as well as by the challenges posed by climate change.
Never have the forewarned impacts of climate change been more visible for all to see. “Kicking our Carbon Habit” – the slogan which animated last year’s World Environment Day - could usher in a new dawn for our economies and our societies. It is a game change that warrants a new look at the rules of the game, and I congratulate ESCAP and SIDA for organizing this seminar in which we can all start working towards this.
Natural disasters caused by climate extremes - including devastating floods, severe droughts, snow storms, heat waves and cold waves -are leaving trails of unprecedented destruction and loss of life. Perhaps it is useful to recall that in June 2008, Cyclone Nargis, alone, claimed the lives of approximately 78,000 people in Myanmar, here in this region.
Meanwhile, we are witnessing a serious global economic down-turn, characterized by financial, fuel and food crises, causing further suffering for the vulnerable world-wide. Each of these events by itself is sufficiently challenging to deal with. It is their concatenation at a moment in time that generates anxiety and fear; but at the same time, this represents a concentration of opportunity that is rare.
We are faced with the need to simultaneously address economic recession, energy security, job creation and CO2 emissions. If managed creatively there are enormous economic, social and environmental benefits likely to arise from combating climate change and re-investing in natural infrastructure-benefits ranging from new jobs in clean technology and clean energy businesses to ones in sustainable agriculture and conservation-based enterprises.
Adopting the language, but not motivation, of Wall Street, UNEP is approaching this moment of opportunity with the slogan: Green is the New Big Deal. It brings together our current work with other agencies in the UN system on Green Jobs, the Green Economy and the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity.
The prospects for a Global Green New Deal stem from these initiatives that seek to stimulate mobilizing and re-focusing the global economy towards investments in clean technologies and 'natural' infrastructure such as forests and soils as the best bet for real and sustainable growth, combating climate change and triggering an employment boom in the 21st century.