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Address by Achim Steiner to the High-Level Segment of the 3rd World Climate Conference
04/ 09/ 2009

Address by Achim Steiner to the High-Level Segment of the 3rd World Climate ConferenceGeneva, 3 September 2009 - Your Excellencies; Honourable Ministers; Moritz Leuenberger, Minister of Environment, Switzerland and chair of this segment; the Director General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO); UN colleagues, scientists, ladies and gentlemen,

In less than 100 days time, governments meet for the crucial UN climate convention meeting Copenhagen where they must Seal the Deal on a comprehensive new agreement that puts the global economy onto a low- carbon path.

That package must also include serious and sustained funding to assist vulnerable economies adapt and climate proof their societies in order to cope with the impacts already underway.

It is important to recall that the catalyst for Copenhagen, and for the existing action on climate change under the Kyoto Protocol of the UN framework convention, is science.

The fourth assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), co-hosted by UNEP and the WMO, is the consensus-led, painstaking scientific process that is bringing more than 190 countries to the table.

We do not know what the outcome of Copenhagen will be.

But we do know that the IPCC's findings and forecasts could not have been possible without data and observing systems, in turn translated into modeling, information and options upon which governments can act.

Monitoring and observing the climate should and must continue. Copenhagen is not the end of a response, more part of the beginning. And our response should include:

Managing and bolstering the planet's multi trillion dollar ecosystem services such as forests and wetlands.
Better understanding and taking action on how hydrological cycles are changing in a climate-constrained world.
Adopting policies to protect public health and biodiversity amidst a changing climate and its challenges.

UNEP, along with a rich and varied number of partners including many UN agencies and research institutes, are currently building up a Global Climate Change Adaptation Network.
There is meanwhile growing scientific interest in the health, agricultural, ecosystem and climate impacts of so called non-CO2 pollutants such as so-called "black carbon" particles.

UNEP, in collaboration with scientists, is extending data collection and research on black carbon into Africa including identifying pollution 'hot spots'.

We must urgently deploy observing skills, technologies and science to understand all emissions and impacts and marshal all available options for delivering a stable, prosperous and healthy world.

Above all, gathering data and translating it into useful and 'actionable' information will be among the keys to overcoming vulnerabilities on a planet of six billion, rising to over nine billion by 2050.

As we move forward, a Global Framework for Climate Services can become an essential workhorse for translating data from our earth observation platforms, from our field experiments, from our climate models, into this "actionable information".

UNEP stands ready to work with its partners in the UN family and the rest of the world community to make the Global Framework for Climate Services a tool for transformative action on the ground over the coming years and decades.

The operative word here is perhaps service - service to governments and to cities and to companies and to citizens so they can better understand, plan and optimize the use of scarce resources - both natural and financial - in a rapidly changing, 21st century world.


Further Resources
UNEP: Climate Change
Seal the Deal! - UN Worldwide Campaign on Climate Change
UNEP: Chemicals Branch