I am pleased to send greetings to this important dialogue in the context of the 18th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
More frequent and intense extreme weather events associated with climate change are making our vulnerability to disasters greater. Scientists have been sounding the alarm for years, and now the evidence is plain to see. The extraordinary is the new normal. No country or community is immune.
Floods threaten lives and livelihoods in low-lying coastal areas and flood plains in all regions. Droughts and wildfires are destroying crops, driving up food prices, and expanding the number of people at risk from hunger and malnutrition, especially children. The trend will only increase until swift and decisive action is taken.
Thankfully, effective remedies exist -- proven, cost-effective early warning and disaster risk reduction measures that increase resilience and protect lives, homes, incomes and economies. It is essential that countries – individually and together -- incorporate such solutions into policy and planning to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and provide opportunities for improved well-being for all people beyond 2015. South-South cooperation can play an important role, and many of the countries hardest hit by climate change can provide important lessons for all.
Developing countries will need significantly scaled-up resources and technology to adapt to climate change, and all countries will need to work together for more sustainable growth based on reduced greenhouse gas emissions. My Sustainable Energy for All initiative is mobilizing commitments from a broad range of actors towards three objectives by 2030: universal energy access, doubling energy efficiency, and doubling the share of renewable energy. At least one billion people stand to benefit from increased access to modern energy services, with more being added as further partnerships form.
Sustainable development must also be underpinned by governments keeping to the timetable to reach a global and legally binding climate agreement by 2015. This Conference of Parties has an essential role to play in accelerating the momentum.
I wish you a productive meeting.