Helen Clark: Speech at the event "From COP21 to COP22, International Geneva’s mobilization continues"

Jan 19, 2016

It is a pleasure to join you today at this important event “From COP21 to COP22, International Geneva’s mobilization continues”. I congratulate Ambassador and Deputy Special Representative for COP21, Philippe Lacoste, and the Government of France on the successful leadership of COP21 in Paris which facilitated adoption of the Paris Agreement, and commend the work of UN Member States, the UNFCCC, and the wider international community for all their efforts leading up to Paris.

I also thank the Governments of France and Morocco for co-hosting this session and for their leadership on climate action.

As the world begins implementation of the Paris Agreement, a successful COP22 in Marrakesh, already seen as the ‘COP for Action’, is important. A good start to implementation will also contribute to the broader Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Let me elaborate on the connections between the two agendas, and also highlight UNDP’s support in the lead up to Paris and our plans during this “era of implementation”.

Transformational impacts of the Paris Agreement on sustainable development

Sustainable development cannot be achieved without decisive action to adapt to and mitigate climate change. In this regard, the importance of the Paris Agreement cannot be overstated. The Agreement is both a signal and a roadmap; a signal to the world that problems like deforestation, forest degradation, and unsustainable energy practices cannot continue; and a roadmap towards the ultimate goal of a zero-carbon, sustainable future.

UNDP sees the implications of the Agreement for sustainable development as profound. Climate change is one of the greatest threats to human development. From farming families in drought-prone regions suffering from food insecurity and a series of poor harvests, to communities on small islands threatened by rising sea levels, the impacts of climate change on people and their well-being are clear. Conversely, tackling climate change decisively will be beneficial for human development. From the Paris Agreement can come opportunities to eradicate poverty through the pursuit of green growth.

UNDP has worked with countries and communities across the globe on protecting forests, promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency, and on promoting low-emission and sustainable growth overall. We also have major experience on climate change adaptation and reducing disaster risk from adverse weather events. Underpinning this work is our support for countries to develop the policies, institutions and budgetary frameworks which are conducive to climate action, and to unlock the funding necessary for it. For example:

  • In Uruguay, UNDP partnered with the Government and the private sector to develop an innovative policy framework for attracting private sector investment into the wind energy sector. This substantially reduced the risks of investing in the sector, and contributed to lower retail tariffs for consumers. A $30 million investment by UNDP and the Global Environment Facility catalysed $2 billion in private sector investment and resulted in seventeen wind farms. This initiative contributes to a long-term low carbon energy pathway for Uruguay.
  • In Vietnam, UNDP has helped the government with the development and incorporation of climate change policy and action plans into national priorities and strategies. We have supported enhancing knowledge and research in the areas of climate change vulnerability, adaptation, and greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation assessments; and we have strengthened national capacities for policy development and the implementation of response measures for climate change adaptation and GHG emissions control. This support has contributed to the completion of Vietnam’s first national capacity needs assessment for climate change, and the development of technical guidelines on assessing climate change vulnerabilities and appropriate adaptation measures in various provinces across the country.
  • Through the National Adaptation Plans Global Support Program (NAP-GSP), UNDP and other partners, including UNEP, are assisting Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in Africa and Asia with identifying the technical, institutional and financial requirements for integrating climate change adaptation into ongoing medium and long-term national planning and budgeting. To date, this effort has provided technical assistance to more than thirty LDCs to advance their National Adaptation Plans. All LDCs in the Asia-Pacific have received training on the NAP guidelines in regional forums convened by UNDP and UNEP. The Global Support Programme is now being expanded to support non-LDCs.

Following the Paris Agreement, there must be a scaling up of such mitigation and adaptation initiatives. Access to technical and financial resources must be facilitated, and action is needed on other elements which will be critical in determining whether countries’ climate action plans can succeed. These include:

  • developing a clear roadmap on ratcheting up climate finance to at least USD 100 billion per year by 2020, including both public and private sources of finance, and prior to 2025 setting a new collective, quantified finance goal from a floor of USD 100 billion per year, taking into account the needs and priorities of developing countries;
  • improved reporting and transparency through Monitoring, Reporting, and Verification (MRV) on climate actions and the support provided to countries;
  • the operationalization of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), which will become Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

Support to countries on INDCs in the lead up to Paris

The INDCs represent the culmination of years of hard work in support of countries’ actions on climate change. Data and analysis from National Communications, Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions, Low Emission Development Strategies and National Adaptation Plans have helped to inform INDCs, and UNDP has provided support to countries on all these mechanisms over the years. Countries must now begin acting on their climate action commitments and contribute to the overall goal of keeping the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius, with the aim of keeping it at no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.

At the heart of UNDP’s work for COP21 was the work with national partners on the development of INDCs. Last year, our efforts included:

  • twelve regional and sub-regional consultations undertaken together with the UNFCCC. These brought together more than 1000 policymakers from over 130 countries to share experiences on the technical elements of INDCs;
  • launch of a guidance note prepared together with the World Resources Institute to support countries as they made important choices on the content of their INDCs; and
  • organization of the high-level global INDC Forum in Rabat, co-hosted with the Government of Morocco and the European Commission, which aimed at assessing the state of INDC preparations and building political momentum in the run-up to Paris.

UNDP also provided direct technical and financial support to 43 countries as they designed and finalized their INDCs. In doing so, we worked to ensure that climate action commitments were built on local and national development objectives, plans, and strategies, and were realistic and actionable. Now we look forward to supporting countries with INDC implementation.

Gearing up for post-Paris era of implementation

In the “era of implementation”, it is vital to ensure that countries get the support they need to realize their INDCs and meet the ambition of the Paris Agreement.

UNDP has a $2.3 billion climate change portfolio across both adaptation and mitigation initiatives. We have decades of experience on climate change, working in more than 140 countries around the world. We work to advance development and climate objectives simultaneously. We are well placed now to support ambitious climate action. We are dedicated to working with all stakeholders from governments at national and sub-national levels to the private sector, international organizations, NGOs, and civil society, including academic and research organizations.

Looking ahead, UNDP will focus on:

  • scaling up support to ensure that Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) lead to actions which reduce emissions and increase resilience to the impacts of climate change. These actions must be rooted in long-term development planning and local development priorities. We will continue to support countries to incorporate climate change mitigation and adaptation into their development plans, strategies, and processes, and to put in place governance systems which facilitate integrated approaches across climate action and development;
  • working with more than 100 countries to access climate finance and undertake adaptation and mitigation measures. With the support of vertical funds, such as the Least Developed Country Fund (LDCF) and the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF), both of which are managed by the Global Environment Facility, and the Adaptation Fund, and in collaboration with bilateral and multilateral partners, we will continue to help put in place the institutions, policies, and legislative, regulatory, and budgetary frameworks which enable countries to catalyze and deploy the various sources of finance available. We are also beginning our work with countries implementing major initiatives supported by the Green Climate Fund; and
  • strengthening disaster risk management. We have linked action on climate change to our longstanding portfolio of work on disaster risk reduction. This year, UNDP is launching a new global programme on disaster risk reduction, targeting a minimum of fifty countries over ten years in five critical areas: early warning and preparedness, risk assessment, urban and local risk reduction, resilient recovery, and climate and disaster risk governance. Through this programme we will work with our partners both to strengthen climate resilience and make progress against the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


As we celebrate the adoption of the Paris Agreement and embark on a new era of global action on climate change, it is critical that the momentum carries through to and beyond COP22 in Marrakesh.

The Paris Agreement has the potential to put economies and societies on a path to green, risk-informed, and inclusive growth, and move our world towards a zero-carbon, sustainable future. It is also an opportunity to change the way we in development agencies and our partners do business. The way we, as a global community, plan, implement, monitor and report on our work must reflect the need to deliver on the promise outlined in Paris. The achievement of national climate targets must become one of the benchmarks of our success in pursuit of sustainable development.

UNDP is committed to working with all partners on the road to COP22 in Morocco, and to supporting developing countries in their efforts to address climate change and achieve sustainable development.

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