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Helen Clark welcomes Pope Francis' climate change encyclical


UNDP Administrator Helen ClarkBuilding resilience to climate change in the agriculture sector is a central issue in Lao PDR, where almost a third of GDP (29.9 percent) is generated through the agriculture sector, and approximately 80 percent of the population is engaged in agricultural activities. Photo: Luke McPake/UNDP Laos

Pope Francis today issued an encyclical in which he called climate change a “principal challenge” for humanity.

In the 184-page letter, Pope Francis noted that the poor are the most vulnerable to climate change, and the Pontiff urged that “swift action” be taken to “confront the crisis.”

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark welcomed the Pope’s climate message:

I welcome Pope Francis' very important contribution to the climate change debate through his encyclical on the environment and the poor.  

The poor and the marginalized in our societies are the ones who are the most vulnerable to climate change, and are also the ones hardest hit by its impacts.

UNDP works with developing countries to avoid what Pope Francis describes as an "economy of exclusion," and strives to enable progress and growth which benefits everyone.

As we look forward later this year to the creation of sustainable development goals and the expected climate change agreement, we must seize this once in a generation opportunity to chart a new course for sustainable development which benefits everyone and protects our planet.

This coming September, United Nations member states will meet at the sustainable development summit, where they will adopt a series of goals to go the last mile on ending hunger, achieving full gender equality, improving health services, getting every child into school, and mitigating climate change.

And December will see the advent of the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) climate change meeting in Paris. In anticipation of COP21, UNDP is working with countries to engage in negotiations and prepare their climate targets. At the same time, we recognize that climate change is more than a conference, and are preparing for post-Paris action as well.

Jo Scheuer, Director for Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction, and Policy Specialist Cassie Flynn, both from the Bureau for Policy and Programme Support at UNDP, address reporters at UN headquarters.

As the leading UN agency implementing climate change mitigation and adaptation programmes, with a portfolio of US$1.4 billion across 140 countries, and as one of the first agencies accredited to the Green Climate Fund, UNDP is well placed to support developing country partners as they endeavour to achieve goals and make good on the Paris agreement.

This support is especially vital for countries that are already experiencing the impacts of climate change, from changing rainfall patterns and agricultural shortfalls, to the increased frequency and severity of natural hazards such as typhoons. These impacts are particularly difficult for women, children and marginalized groups lacking access to the resources or social safety nets needed to bounce back and persevere.

That's why UNDP’s climate change adaptation programmes particularly focus on building resilience in remote and rural communities, strengthening the role of women as local leaders, and finding contextually-appropriate yet innovative solutions to help those on the margins.

We welcome Pope Francis’ engagement on this important global issue, and hope it inspires other world leaders take a similarly strong stance.

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