UNDP Administrator Helen Clark visits Copenhagen

15 Dec 2009

Tuesday, 15 December, was a full day of events outside the COP15 venue for UNDP Administrator Helen Clark.

In the morning she held opening remarks on behalf of the UN at a meeting for some 200 CSOs, local authority leaders and private sector representatives at the Climate Leader Summit side event – one of the approximately 1,000 side events to take place during the COP15.

In her speech, Clark underlined the role that local and regional authorities and private sector can and should play in the efforts towards a green and sustainable development both in developed and developing countries. According to statistics presented at the Climate Leader Summit cities around the world are responsible for 80 percent of the global CO2 emissions. In other words – solutions of climate changes are widely within reach of local and regional decision makers.

“We in the UN are in partnership with many of you represented here. You are in the frontline of the battle against climate change. Thank you for what you are doing,” Clark stated in her closing remarks.

In the afternoon, Clark participated in discussions on climate change and international security with NATO Secretary General Mr. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, AU Commission Chairperson Jean Ping, Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt and Danish Foreign Affairs Minister Mr Per Stig Moeller.

Addressed by the panel discussion moderator, Mr. Steffen Kretz, if climate refugees should be granted same status as political refugees, Clark responded, “Why wait for the worst? Things can be done. What must come out of the COP15 is a deal… an agreement for development. If we neglect that I am afraid we might miss the plot.”

The panel discussion was hosted by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The ministry recently made two studies in Africa and the Middle East indicating that climate catastrophes like draughts and floods can cause a 50 percent increase in violent conflicts in the aftermath.

Migration across borders was mentioned by several of the panellists to be central in causing conflict and violence. But even at sea climate changes cause border conflicts as melting ice in the Arctic Sea opens new seaways and territory to be claimed.

Even by today it is estimated that 200 million people are climate change refugees.

“The summit is an opportunity to negotiate rules. The alternative is chaos,” Clark stated. “The appeal is now for the nations to see their common interest. If we go from here with no deal I am afraid people will start questioning if we – the international society – is capable of dealing with such issues.”

Finally Clark delivered the opening remarks at the side event ‘China’s Pathway to Low Carbon Economy and Social Development’ hosted by UNDP China branch. The UNDP Administrator said that it is most likely that China will meet all Millennium Development Goals by 2015. But the increasing urbanization in China will also raise demands for energy and put the capacity for green and environment friendly solutions to the test.