From Polar ice rim, Ban Ki-moon calls for urgent action on climate change
Svalbard (Polar Ice Rim), 2 September 2009 - Standing on rapidly melting polar ice, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appealed to the world for urgent measures to be taken to combat climate change to protect the planet for future generations.
"I feel the power of nature, and at the same time, a sense of vulnerability," Mr. Ban told reporters from the Polar ice rim yesterday. "This is a common resource for human beings, and we must do all we can to preserve this Arctic ice."
Witnessing the impacts of climate change on icebergs and glaciers first-hand, he said that he was informed by scientists that global warming is altering the Arctic faster than any other area.
"We must stop this from further happening," the Secretary-General stressed. "Unless we fight climate change, unless we stop this trend, we'll have devastating consequences for humanity."
With fewer than 100 days remaining until the start of the climate change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, where nations are set to wrap up talks on a new agreement to slash greenhouse gas emissions, Mr Ban is convening a high-level gathering in New York on 22 September to shore up political will.
"We do not have any time to lose," Mr. Ban underscored. "We must seal the deal in Copenhagen in December, a deal which will be comprehensive, equitable and balanced, so that both industrialized and developing countries, and all citizens of the world can live in an environmentally sustainable way."
In the margins of the high-level event, Global Climate Week on 21-25 September will mobilize people around the planet as part of the UN-wide Seal the Deal! campaign. Among the events planned in 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.
Reaching an agreement - intended to go into effect when the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol ends in 2012 - in the Danish capital is "the moral and political responsibility required of the leaders of the world," the Secretary-General said.
In the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard today, the Secretary-General visited the Global Seed Vault, which was established early last year to protect seed samples from the threats of climate change, disease and disasters.
Located near the village of Longyearbyen - some 1,120 kilometres from the North Pole - the vault houses duplicates of unique varieties of the world's most important crops. Permafrost and thick rock ensure that even without electricity, the genetic material stored in the vault will remain frozen and protected.
One of the greatest global challenges is "how to feed a growing world population in the context of climate change," Mr. Ban said at the vault.
The seeds stored in the facility, he said, are part of a larger long-term strategy to boost food security in the face of global warming.
"Sustainable food production may not begin in this cold Arctic environment, but it does begin by conserving crop diversity," the Secretary-General noted.
"This gift to humanity and symbol of peace will continue to inspire and serve for generations to come."