25 September, 2008
High Level Meeting on the Millennium Development Goals Round Table III: Environmental Sustainability
Thank you Mr. Chairman,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is understandable that people leaving in extreme poverty are forced to care more about meeting their daily needs than ensuring long-term environmental sustainability. But for all the rest of us there is no excuse. There is a causal link between environment and poverty, food security and health, which we cannot overlook. This link is being further strengthened by the new global challenge of climate change.
Trends show an acceleration of climate change, a phenomenon which threatens to make the achievement of all the M.D.G.s harder, as it affects most heavily the poorest and most vulnerable of our global, especially in the developing world. And it is sad, but a harsh reality is that those who are least to blame for the phenomenon are those who are asked to suffer the most.
It is very difficult to foresee the impact of climate change in the near future.
Last year, for example, my Country, Greece, suffered from unprecedented catastrophic fires, claiming human lives and destroying hundreds of thousands of acres of arable and forest land.
What can we do?
On the international level, and with regard to the post-Kyoto era, it is imperative to achieve in 2009 a new, truly global, agreement. In this agreement we need to have ambitious binding targets based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibility. But we also need a much stronger effort on the adaptation front, where there is a huge deficit between the needs estimated by experts of international organizations, such as UNDP and the World Bank, and the actual financing provided by the existing structures and commitments. And this deficit is exasperated by the fact that no matter what we do we are locked in for significant climate change in the next three to four decades, which is going to adversely affect all of us and more the least developed countries.
Greece, in cooperation with other partners is already moving to face this challenge. We have signed this week in New York agreements with the African Union and CARICOM, for the funding of adaptation projects and plan to do that also with the Alliance of Small Island States. The total amount we will provide is 20 million euros, for the next 4 years.
One might argue that this is just a drop in the adaptation bucket. It is however a drop in an empty bucket.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Climate change can be approached in two different ways. As an international collective failure to balance between the extreme resource degradation caused by unsustainable production and consumption. Or alternatively it could be seen as a strong incentive to proceed with changes in technology needed to bridge the gap between the existing unsustainable global model of economic growth and a new path of global development. A path which will allow us to achieve our goals of eradicating poverty and hunger, while preserving our climate and our environment for us and the generations to come.