Children remind us of our future responsibility

Said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at signing ceremony for the Paris Agreement on Climate Change

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon poses for a group photo with three of the speakers who addressed the opening segment of the signature ceremony at the UN in New York recently. Shown from left to right are: Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim (from Chad), civil society representative; UN Messenger of Peace, Leonardo DiCaprio, Getrude Clement, l6-year old radio reporter from Tanzania, and youth representative and climate advocate with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF). UN Photo: Mark Garten.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon poses for a group photo with three of the speakers who addressed the opening segment of the signature ceremony at the UN in New York recently. Shown from left to right are: Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim (from Chad), civil society representative; UN Messenger of Peace, Leonardo DiCaprio, Getrude Clement, l6-year old radio reporter from Tanzania, and youth representative and climate advocate with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF). UN Photo: Mark Garten.

“The children who are with us today on the signing of the Paris Climate Change agreement remind us of our responsibility to them and to future generations” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on April 22, during his closing remarks at UN Headquarters.

According to Ban Ki-moon, “today. the governments of the world made history. Just as we did last December in Paris at COP 21. With their signatures today, governments have made a covenant with the future.”

“ The children who were with us this morning remind us of our responsibility to them and a future generation,” said the UN Secretary-General.

“The words they wore on their shirts said it clearly, your promise, our future. Today’s signing is a vote of confidence in a new approach to climate change. It is imperative this strong political momentum continues to grow.”

“If all the countries that have signed here today join the Agreement at the national level, the world will have met the legal requirement for the Paris Agreement to enter into force – 55 countries accounting for 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. I will do everything I can to help us reach this goal” he added.

Shown here is Lithuanian President, Dalia Grybauskaite, signing the Paris Agreement at UN Headquarters in New York on April 22. More than 165 Member States were expected to attend the signing ceremony, including an estimated 60 Heads of State and Heads of Government. Besides Lithuania, the Baltic States of Estonia and Latvia were also expected to sign this historic document. UN Photo: Ananda Voisard.
Shown here is Lithuanian President, Dalia Grybauskaite, signing the Paris Agreement at UN Headquarters in New York on April 22. More than 165 Member States were expected to attend the signing ceremony, including an estimated 60 Heads of State and Heads of Government. Besides Lithuania, the Baltic States of Estonia and Latvia were also expected to sign this historic document. UN Photo: Ananda Voisard.

“This afternoon, I was pleased to hear several large emitter countries announce they will ratify in 2016,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “ I encourage all countries to raise their level of ambition. I urge world leaders to continue to provide direct political oversight and guidance. And I will look to civil society and the world’s young people to hold Government to account for the promises they made today. This covenant with the future is a covenant with you. Hold them to it. “

He also added, “the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda is a major step forward for people and planet. “

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is shown greeting UN Messenger of Peace Leonardo DiCaprio before the signing ceremony, as Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, looks on. UN Photo/ Eskinder Debebe.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is shown greeting UN Messenger of Peace Leonardo DiCaprio before the signing ceremony, as Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, looks on. UN Photo/ Eskinder Debebe.

What made the signing ceremony on April 22 so historic? More than 165 countries had indicated that they would sign the historic climate change agreement. The large number of countries set a record for the most countries to sign an international agreement on one day, previously set in 1982, when 119 countries signed the Law of the Sea Convention.

The signing is the first step towards insuring that the agreement enters into force as soon as possible. After signing, countries must take the further national(or domestic) step of accepting or ratifying the agreement.

The opening ceremony included music from students of the Juilliard School and a short video bringing the “gavel moment” from Paris to the signature ceremony. It included remarks by youth representative Getrude Clement, a 16-year old radio reporter from Tanzania and climate advocate with UNICEF, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, French President Francois Hollande and President of the UN General Assembly, Mogens Lykketoft.

In addition, statements were made from representative group of countries, business representative Anand Mahindra, Chief Executive Officer, Mahindra Group, civil society representative Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, Coordinator of the Indigenous Women and Peoples Association of Chad, and Leonardo DiCaprio, UN Messenger of Peace with a special focus on climate change.

United States Secretary of State Signs Paris Agreement on Climate Change
Shown here is US Secretary of State John Kerry holding his grand –daughter after he signed the Paris Agreement. The UN Secretary-General stated that “children remind us of our responsibility to them and a future generation.” UN Photo/Rick Bajornas.

All in all, the Secretary-General has asked countries to address four topics: l) to provide an update on how their governments will implement their national climate plans and integrate them into their overall sustainable development plans. 2) to provide a road map for increasing ambition over time to achieve the overall aim of limiting global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and given the grave risks, strive for below l.5 degrees Celsius.

In addition, under 3) the Secretary-General wants governments to Indicate their governments’ timetable for ratifying the Paris Agreement. and 4) to share how they are accelerating climate action before 2020 by drawing on the ingenuity, resources and efforts of all sectors of society.

Taking an active role in saving our planet, too, were students and youth representatives from around the world, who were at the UN in New York on a historic day. April 22.

Pictured is UN Secretary-General (center left) meeting with students from the UN International School (UNIS) in New York City on the sidelines of the signing ceremony for the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and Getrude Clement (center right), a Tanzanian youth representative. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe.

Pictured is UN Secretary-General (center left) meeting with students from the UN International School (UNIS) in New York City on the sidelines of the signing ceremony for the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and Getrude Clement (center right), a Tanzanian youth representative. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe.

All of the world’s largest economies, and the largest green house gas emitters, have indicated that they will sign the agreement. The signing is the first step toward ensuring that
the agreement enters into force as soon as possible. After signing, countries must take the further national (or domestic) step of accepting or ratifying the agreement. The agreement can enter into force 30 days after at least 55 Parties to the UNFCCC, accounting for at least 55 per cent of global emissions, ratifying the agreement.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke to the media with Francois Hollande, President of France. during a press briefing at UN Headquarters. Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Segolene Royal, President of COP 21, and Hoesung Lee, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Mogens Lykketoft, President of the General Assembly, and the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, were among the prominent speakers who contributed to the success of this historic signing.

Shown here is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (right) speaking to the media with Francois Hollande, President of France, following the Signing Ceremony for the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe.
Shown here is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (right) speaking to the media with Francois Hollande, President of France, following the Signing Ceremony for the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe.

 

Ann Charles
Ann Charles is UN Bureau Chief of “Baltic Review” based in New York City. She covers diplomatic activities at United Nations Headquarters in New York and the world body’s work in human rights, education, culture, the environment, and tourism, among other global concerns.