For nearly 12,000 years, glaciers have iced the peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain on the African continent. Yet by 2020, those glaciers may be gone, the ice cap melted, the forests destroyed. The changes at the top of Kilimanjaro are a frightening testimony of climate change and its impact on the world around us.
Climate change is a priority for me as Secretary-General of the United Nations; it is a priority for our organization as a whole; it is a priority for the world. We have no time to waste.
As we continue our efforts to achieve Millennium Development Goal number 7 of “ensuring environmental sustainability”, you, the participants of the 2009 Climb organized by the Kilimanjaro Initiative and supported by a UN interagency coalition, are powerful advocates for the UN's efforts to combat climate change. From the very top of Africa, you have a unique opportunity to alert the world to the dangers linked to climate change and the need to protect our environment. Once you return home, I hope you share your experiences with others and encourage the provision of ‘greener’, ‘safer’ and ‘better’ communities for all.
The consequences of climate change will be borne by all, particularly future generations. This is why solutions must be sought by all. Young people have a special role to play as advocates for environmental preservation, for they will inherit the world as we have shaped - and unfortunately, neglected - it.
I salute you for your initiative in climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and bringing to the attention of your friends, families and colleagues the environmental damage that has already occurred in one of the most beautiful landscapes in Africa. I hope your testimony will provoke others to action and help mobilize additional resources in the fight against global warming.