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UN Calls Upon Member States to Pursue Ambitious Climate Action

This Joint Appeal was published after a two-day meeting of the Chief Executives Board (CEB) of the United Nations System held in Geneva. The heads of the UN entities highlighted ambitious and concrete steps that need to be taken ahead of the UN Climate Action Summit to be hosted by the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, on 23 September 2019. 

The Joint Appeal:

We, the leaders of the United Nations system organizations*, appeal to Member States to step up ambition and take concrete action to limit global temperature increases to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and adapt to the effects of climate change, as they strive to fulfil their obligations on human rights, including the right to health, the right to food security, the right to development, the rights of indigenous peoples, local communities, migrants, children, persons with disabilities and people in vulnerable situations, as well as gender equality, empowerment of women, intergenerational equity, and decent work and a just transition for all, as stated in the Paris Agreement. As set out by the IPCC’s Special Report on Global Warming, limiting global warming to 1.5°C is necessary to prevent irreversible changes. Achieving this goal will require changes on an unprecedented scale at all levels, but it is still possible if we act now. With great urgency we call upon Member States to come to New York in September with concrete, realistic plans to enhance their nationally determined contributions by 2020 and in support to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

I. Mitigation 

2. We call upon Member States to take urgent action to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that climate change mitigation is a moral, ethical and economic imperative.

3. The United Nations system supports Member States to make and fulfill their commitments under the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including through the nationally determined contributions and long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies, strengthening synergies, avoiding trade-offs and ensuring policy coherence in the implementation of the sustainable development agenda.

4. Whilst acknowledging the progress and decisions adopted by individual UN organizations we are committed to strengthening our support by mobilizing scaled-up climate finance, facilitating technology transfer and capacity building, to enable Member States to raise ambition in their nationally determined contributions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 and reaching the goal of zero net emissions in 2050; and to achieve sustainable development co-benefits that will make a difference in the lives of all peoples.

II Adaptation

5. We call upon Member States to ensure that appropriate adaptation measures are taken to protect people, livelihoods and ecosystems, particularly people in those regions most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change including those at risk through forced displacement and migration. We urge Member States to identify and build adaptive capacities and solutions in vulnerable communities and ecosystems and devote the maximum available resources and support to the progressive realization of the economic, social and cultural rights of all persons to ensure that no one is left behind.
6. The United Nations system supports Member States to pursue inclusive, risk-informed sustainable development and strengthen actions to monitor, prevent and manage climate and disaster risks, including through the promotion of the national adaptation plans and the development of coherent national disaster risk reduction strategies.

7. We are committed to strengthening our responsiveness to Member States’ needs to reduce the adverse impacts of climate change, including on the stability of regions, states, cities and communities, build resilience, scale up efforts to provide safe, clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation for all, address loss and damage caused by climate induced disasters and enhance responsiveness of social protection systems to climate-related events. We stand ready to support countries especially small island developing states and least developed countries to implement concrete actions to strengthen adaptation and resilience and we encourage Member States to come and showcase these actions at the Summit.

III. Finance

8. Climate finance is critical to deliver action on the necessary scale to address climate change. In the context of the enhanced mobilization of financial resources, developed countries must deliver on the goal of mobilizing governments and the private sector to achieve the goal of USD100 billion per year by 2020 to support climate action in developing countries and further enhance their efforts on scaling-up financial resources.

9. We emphasize that States should maximize the positive impact of climate finance by ensuring that climate finance is used to maximize transformational change to reduce emissions and build systemic climate resilience; is accessible and benefits the most likely to be affected, including women, youth and children; guards against potential negative impacts of climate finance through establishment and implementation of effective environmental, social and human rights safeguards; and guarantees access to effective remedy in the event of harm.

10. We call upon Member States to build enabling policy frameworks to facilitate access to public and private finance and to implement and scale-up public policies to redirect finance flows towards low-emission and climate resilient development.

11. We are committed to strengthening this system-wide effort to create an enabling environment for investment, mainstream climate action across relevant national financial planning and integrate market-based instruments to sustainably crowd in and scale up responsible private sector investment. We encourage Member States to share their national climate finance roadmaps, viable approaches and success stories.

IV. Innovation 

12. We call upon Member States to pursue ambitious climate actions with opportunities for innovations in advancing sustainable development.

13. The United Nations system supports the enhancement of capacity of Member States to develop and utilize relevant data and technological innovations to find solutions for climate and sustainable development challenges and disaster risk reduction and management, including the use of new and emerging technologies, including information and communication technologies, data and tools. The Fourth Industrial Revolution offers tremendous potential for a paradigm shift to low-emission climate-resilient development pathways.

14. Innovation, however, does not only entail technology, but also foresight approaches, new business models and financial instruments as well as innovative cooperation and partnerships, including enhanced regional cooperation, which are essential for ensuring a rapid and effective mid to long-term transition to a high-resilience low-emission development pathway.

15. We are committed to strengthening this support and to building innovative partnerships with all relevant stakeholders, including academia, scientific community, NGOs, children and youth, women’s groups and entrepreneurs, trade unions, the private sector and local governments, to leverage concerted actions in areas of climate change mitigation/adaptation/finance/technology. We encourage Member States to share their innovative approaches to combat climate change with other countries at the Summit.

V. The United Nations System

16. The United Nations system is committed to raising its own ambition to take concrete steps to combat climate change and to integrate more systematically sustainable development considerations into how we operate. Building on current efforts, we will develop a United Nations system-wide environmental and social sustainability strategy 2020-2030, to ensure the United Nations system practices the principles that it promotes and systematically embodies the Sustainable Development Goals, addressing the full picture of environmental and social sustainability in its policies, strategies, programmes, projects, facilities and operations.

17. In particular, we commit to reduce our environmental impacts via targeted actions on GHG emissions, waste management, air and water pollution and biodiversity degradation. In the area of GHG emissions, in particular, we intend to align with the recommendations of the IPCC report, and we will take concrete steps in energy demand reductions in all facilities and operations, transition to renewables, and improvements in our travel and transport management and climate neutrality.

18. We will adopt environmental management approaches based on the principles of continuous improvements and on the integration of sustainable development considerations on all our internal management functions to ensure that opportunities for improvements are captured wherever possible including via the application of environmental and social safeguards in projects and programmes. Building on the Greening the Blue initiative, we will upscale and improve our sustainability reporting framework to communicate transparently about our progress, our efforts and challenges on the journey.

19. At the Secretary General’s Climate Action Summit in September, we will present our system-wide efforts towards reaching climate neutrality in our internal operations by 2020 and enhancing environmental and social sustainability in all UN activities.

See original release here.