New York, Nov 14 2011 1:10PM
Climate change is the single most important challenge the world faces, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed today in
Bangladesh, a country that is all too familiar with the impact of extreme weather events and which the United Nations
chief hailed as a global leader in disaster risk reduction.
In 1991, a cyclone killed more than 140,000 people in the South Asian nation. Then in 2007, when another major cyclone
struck, many volunteers helped move thousands of people out of the disaster area, ultimately saving countless lives. The
death toll from that tragedy was 4,000.
“Because of its adaption and preparedness measures, the people of Bangladesh are much safer today,” Mr. Ban said in remarks to the second Climate Vulnerable Forum
, which he opened in Dhaka with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
“The lesson is clear: natural hazards need not cause human catastrophe. There are many cost-effective remedies that
communities and countries can take to reduce the impact of extreme weather events,” he stated.
Mr. Ban noted that this is a key message of a special report being released this week by the Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change (IPCC), on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters.
“The severity of cyclones, floods and other consequences of climate change are increasing,” he stated. “Strong disaster
risk reduction and adaptation policies will be increasingly essential.”
Bangladesh is acutely aware of its vulnerability to the growing impacts of climate change – cyclones, flooding, sea
level rise, noted the Secretary-General. “You are on the front line of climate change.”
At the same time, he noted that every country is affected, and there is no country which is safe.
“Climate change is a global problem requiring a global solution,” said Mr. Ban. “It requires urgent efforts on the part
of every country, every citizen, every business community and civil society. We need scaled-up national, international
and regional efforts.”
He commended the lead taken by Bangladesh to follow “a pro-development, low-carbon path,” noting in particular its
establishment of a climate change trust fund and a resilience fund. “In this time of global economic uncertainty, let
your commitment to green growth be an inspiration to more developed countries – the major emitters,” he said.
The Secretary-General said he will count on the members of the Climate Vulnerable Forum to arrive at the UN climate
change conference that will open in Durban, South Africa, later this month, with a “strong and united” voice.
“Durban must complete what was agreed last year in Cancún,” he said, referring to the previous UN climate change
Governments must ensure that the adaptation framework and technology transfer mechanisms are up and running as soon as
possible, said Mr. Ban. They must also advance a work programme on loss and damage to respond to the needs of countries
like Bangladesh that are particularly afflicted by extreme climatic events.
“But this will not be enough,” he added. “In Durban I expect that countries will make the clarification on the future of
the Kyoto Protocol [the legally binding emission reduction treaty, whose first commitment period is due to expire in
“They have to launch the Green Climate Fund and they have to have a clarification on the short term and longer term
climate change financing,” he said. “The fund needs to be launched in Durban.
“An empty shell cannot be unanswered. We must fill this shell,” he stated, adding that governments must find ways now to
provide financial and technological support to developing nations that do not have any capacity at this time.
Mr. Ban also held a bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister and they jointly inaugurated the “One Stop Service Centre,”
an e-governance initiative. “Digital Bangladesh is becoming a reality,” he noted at that event, adding that modern
electronic systems have replaced century-old, heavily bureaucratic manual administrative practices.
He said that the e-service work going on in Bangladesh is remarkable for three reasons. It focuses on people and uses
appropriate technologies, and promotes transparency and accountability. Also, the One Stop Service Centres promote
public health by delivering information directly to the people.
While in Dhaka, the Secretary-General also met with the Foreign Minister and senior Government officials. In addition,
he visited the International Center for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh, and met with Khaleda Zia, the leader of
Nov 14 2011 1:10PM
For more details go to UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news