It is the poor countries which will suffer most from climate change even though they are the least responsible for global warming, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned Monday, pledging that action on the issue will be one of his priorities.
“The world has reached a critical stage in its efforts to exercise responsible environmental stewardship,” Ban said in a message delivered to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum in Nairobi, Kenya.
“Despite our best intentions and some admirable efforts to date, degradation of the global environment continues unabated, and the world's natural resource base is being used in an unsustainable manner,” a press release issued by the UN Information Center (UNIC) here on Tuesday quoted him as saying.
He referred to projections in the latest assessment by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, released on Friday, which reported that global warming is unequivocal and most likely caused by human activities, with all countries set to feel the adverse impacts.
But he stressed that poor countries would be disproportionately affected.
“It is also becoming increasingly clear, in North and South alike, that there is an inextricable, mutually dependent relationship between environmental sustainability and economic development,” Ban said.
“This means that respect for the environment, and recognition of the crucial link between environmental and economic policies, could enjoy better prospects of being put at the centre of our efforts to conquer poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” he added, referring to the targets adopted by the UN Millennium Summit of 2000 that seek to slash a host of social ills, such as extreme hunger and poverty, by 2015.
UNEP is the principal UN body in the field of the environment and Ban said progress will depend on forging meaningful partnerships with civil society and the business community.
“Closer cooperation with UN system partners will also be crucial, and UNEP’s strengthened cooperation with the UN Development Program augurs well for mainstreaming the environment into development planning,” he added.