UN Secretary-General on Climate Change Awareness Expedition in Arctic
Nairobi, 1 September 2009 - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday observed first-hand the effects of climate change when he visited Svalbard, an Arctic Archipelago midway between Norway and the North Pole.
The expedition marked day two of his three-day climate change awareness-raising visit to the Arctic.
"I will try to deliver a clear strong message from my visit to the North Pole," he told reporters on Monday, underscoring that only two weeks remain before he convenes the high-level UN Summit on Climate Change at the UN Headquarters in New York.
Coinciding with the Summit on 22 September, will be Global Climate Week which will be held from 21 - 25 September. Among the events planned for more than 120 countries are youth assemblies, tree planting drives, a climate neutral day and a 'Go Green Day'. In addition, communities, businesses and individuals are being encouraged to add their voices to the UN-led Seal the Deal! campaign by signing the Climate Petition at www.sealthedeal2009.org.
Speaking to journalists aboard a Norwegian coastguard vessel on Monday, the Secretary-General emphasized, "Now is the time for decision-making. We must seal a deal in Copenhagen for a global, equitable and comprehensive deal for the future of humanity and the future of Planet Earth."
The 2009 UNEP Yearbook warns that Arctic sea ice is declining more rapidly than previously expected in response to higher air and ocean temperatures. "If this trend is not stopped, we may have a virtually ice-free Arctic within 30 years," said Mr. Ban.
"This is quite alarming, therefore it is absolutely crucial that world leaders are united to take urgent action. This is my commitment, that is why I'm going to the Arctic," he stressed.