Magdy Martínez-Solimán: Statement delivered at the INDC Forum Opening Session

Oct 12, 2015

Madame la Ministre,

Monsieur le Commissaire européen,

Monsieur le représentant de l'Agence Internationale de l'Énergie,

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen

Let me start by thanking the Government of Morocco and the European Commission for hosting the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) Forum, as well as our partners at the UN Environment Programme, with whom UNDP has the pleasure of co-organizing this event.  I would like in particular to thank Minister El Haite for the leadership her Ministry has extended to us in the organization of this forum. I would also like to felicitate the Government of Morocco on being selected to host the 22nd Conference of the Parties in 2016. We very much look forward to working with you in the critical, post-Paris period.

I am grateful for this opportunity to deliver brief remarks as we open this Forum.

Addressing climate change and ensuring sustainable development are two sides of the same coin. On the one hand, we cannot guarantee sustainable development so long as climate change threatens to impede progress and roll back development gains. And on the other hand, development itself impacts climate action directly: either it exacerbates the problem if we continue to ignore it and go about business as usual, or it can be a factor of change if we resolutely undertake low-emission development.

At UNDP, the connection between climate and development both worries us and encourages us. While we remain deeply concerned about the impact of climate change on lives and livelihoods, particularly for the poorest and most vulnerable sectors of our society—we are also energized by the real opportunities that exist to address such challenges. Our work with our country partners and our extensive engagement with people and communities give us cause for optimism, as across the board we are seeing the benefits of pursuing low-carbon development. From small villages to booming metropolises, our country partners are finding innovative ways to tackle climate change.

At UNDP we say: “if it isn’t risk-informed, it isn’t sustainable development”. What we mean is that any development that is undertaken without sufficient consideration of the possible long-term risks is not sustainable, and is in fact an unnecessary gamble. You might have heard UNDP Administrator, Ms. Helen Clark, say that building a fence at the top of the cliff is more cost-effective than bringing an ambulance to the bottom of the cliff. For this reason, we have worked hard to bring climate change into our development support and advocated strongly for partners everywhere to consider climate risks in their development planning and implementation. INDCs, as a commitment to the Paris agreement, and as an initial blueprint for post-Paris action, are a critical way to marry climate action with development.

So far, we have provided financial support to at least 37 developing countries to develop their INDCs.  Financial resources were secured through the generous contributions of the European Commission, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Government of Germany. In addition, technical support has been provided, either directly upon request or indirectly through programming on mitigation, to dozens of countries to determine and communicate their intended contributions to the UNFCCC.

From a development perspective, INDCs are a practical element of the Paris agreement, and the more we do now to ensure that they are in line with actual development plans, the more realistic and actionable they will be in the post-Paris ‘era of implementation’.  

Thus far at least 148 countries have submitted their INDCs. This is welcome news, and we are delighted by the enthusiasm and commitment that so many of our partners have shown. We are now in the final stretch before COP21, and we are all doing what we can to promote an ambitious outcome in Paris and beyond, particularly through the provision of technical support to many developing country governments.

The INDCs will form the backbone of the Paris agreement, constituting the basis for the most ambitious collective effort yet to address climate change. It is our hope that this Forum and the discussions over the coming two days will allow countries to reflect on the progress made thus far, but also to consider powerful ways to increase ambitions even further and ensure success in Paris this December.

Thank you.

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