Speech by Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director, at the UNESCO's International Experts Meeting
Meeting on the Sustainable Development of the Arctic in the Face of Global Climate Change: Scientific, Social, Cultural and Educational Challenges
Monaco, 3 March 2009 - His Serene Highness, Prince Albert of Monaco,
Koichiro Matsura, Director General of UNESCO,
Larissa Abrutina, Vice President of the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North (RAIPON)
Lars-Anders Baer, President of the Board of the Swedish Saami Parliament
Aqaaluk Lynge, Vice-President of the of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, from Greenland
Jonathan Motzfeld, Former Prime Minister of Greenland
Klemetti Naäkkäläjärvi, President Finnish Saami Parliament
Bob Correll, former chair of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, now Director of the Heinz Centre
Jean Malaurie, UNESCO goodwill ambassador for Arctic Polar Issues.
Colleagues from UNESCO and UNEP,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to be in the Principality of Monaco around one year after His Serene Highness and the government so ably hosted the world's gathering of environment ministers at the 10th special session of UNEP's Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum.
Here important decisions affecting UNEP's work were taken, not least one on the Sustainable Development of the Arctic region.
One year on, who could have foreseen the dramatic events that would unfold across the globe from the food and fuel crisis to the financial and now full-scale economic crisis.
However, another crisis also unfolded - and this was in the Arctic.
The science emerging since Monaco is quite simply re-writing and almost daily many of the forecasts, assumptions and predictions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
It is underlining a new level of urgency to act that perhaps is still not at the fever pitch-level among leaders and climate negotiators that it deserves.