Helen Clark: Introductory speech at UNDP’s High Level Event on Delivering Sustainable Development through Climate Action

Nov 16, 2016

An energy-efficient steel plant in Raipur, India. Photo: UNDP

I am pleased to welcome you to this UNDP side event on Delivering Sustainable Development through Climate Action.

On 4 November 2016, the Paris Climate Agreement entered into force. The Agreement was a major milestone in global efforts to tackle climate change. The fact that it took under a year to be adopted, signed, and then enter into force, is testament to the momentum around climate action in many countries.  

The Paris Agreement underlines the importance of keeping global temperature rise to below two degrees - and ideally to below 1.5 degrees Celsius. To achieve that, practices like unsustainable energy use and deforestation cannot continue. If successfully implemented, the Paris Agreement will bring about a transformation in economies and societies.

To achieve that, action must be taken now, and be rapidly scaled up. At this event, we are focusing on the practical steps which must be taken by countries to deliver on their Nationally Determined Contributions, including on the importance of integrating them into sustainable development visions and plans. Development partners can support developing countries with technical, financial, and capacity building support.

To achieve results, scaled-up investment is needed. This will take years of hard work, trillions of dollars in financing, and a commitment to the way all countries - developed and developing – do development. In tackling climate change, we can also create jobs, improve public health, foster innovation, protect vital ecosystems, and preserve the planet’s precious water resources – among many co-benefits.

UNDP is the largest UN implementer of climate programmes, with a portfolio of $2.8 billion in over 140 countries, and more than two decades of working on climate issues. It is committed to the successful implementation of the Paris Agreement.

To this end, a UNDP Climate Change Commitment has been prepared – outlining how UNDP will scale up support for developing countries’ efforts to tackle climate change, build resilience, and work for zero-carbon, sustainable, and inclusive development.

This support is provided across two key pillars: toward ‘zero-carbon growth’ and ‘adaptation and resilience’.

The first pillar, toward ‘zero carbon growth’, reflects UNDP’s commitment to expedite and strengthen support for countries as they translate their climate action targets into action per se.

Building on UNDP’s earlier work in supporting partners to design their intended Nationally Determined Contributions (iNDCs). UNDP is now focusing on support for the further development, implementation, and monitoring of those NDCs. This will include support for strengthening institutions, policies, and budget provision. Climate targets also need to be translated into proposals which can attract climate finance, and UNDP can support that.

Concrete actions can include making the shift to more renewable energy, promoting energy efficiency, protecting forests, and creating an environment conducive to private sector investment in adaptation and mitigation.

The second pillar of UNDP’s Climate Change Commitment supports partners to adapt and build resilience in the face of climate change.

Bringing together our work on climate change adaptation and on disaster risk reduction, we will work with partners to strengthen livelihoods – particularly of the most vulnerable; incorporate adaptation plans into policies and programmes; strengthen early warning and preparedness systems; and incorporate climate risk awareness into development planning.

Throughout its work, UNDP’s approach is inclusive, gender-responsive, and prioritizes the poorest and most vulnerable. Climate change threatens livelihoods and makes poverty eradication harder.

The ambition of the Paris Agreement is high. Now it is our joint responsibility to take the action needed to realize it. This is the focus of our discussion today.

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