"Take strong ownership" of development, climate goals, Ban urges Africa

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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sees the impact of drought and El Nino for himself, on a field trip to the Oromia region of Ethiopia. Credit: WFP Media.

African leaders need to "take strong ownership" and put into place the global agreements made on climate change and sustainable development.

That's according to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, speaking at a press conference at the 26th African Union summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

He said the Paris climate change agreement to limit global warming  "promises great gains" for the continent.

And he called on the international community to stand with the people of Ethiopia and step up aid, as they face their worst drought for thirty years, and battle the unpredictable effects of the destructive El Nino weather system.

Despite Ethiopia’s “remarkable leadership” it’s unable to cope on its own, he told a donors humanitarian round table in the margins of the summit.

Matthew Wells reports.

Mr Ban said he hoped to see as many African leaders as possible attend the official signing of the Paris agreement at UN headquarters on April 22.

Following his press conference, he took a field trip, together with the Deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia and chief of the World Food Programme (WFP) to see for himself the impact of drought and the El Nino weather phenomenon which has created huge food insecurity and health challenges for much of Africa in recent months.

The unprecedented environmental challenges facing the world were inextricably linked to an unprecedented array of political problems he said, pointing out that 37 countries were in crisis, leaving 120 million people in need of humanitarian aid.

The UN lacked the funds to help everyone he added, saying that it was essential, especially in Africa, for leaders to show respect for "human dignity and good governance."

Crises will only get worse, allowing violent extremism to flourish, if governments ignore basic human rights he said.

He acknowledged concerns that the UN itself had work to do on reform, in particular the Security Council, where the veto power of just five permanent members controls much of the vital decision-making.

He said that most agreed that other countries deserved more say, but how to do it, was hugely complicated.

"When Member States are engaging based on their national and regional interests," he warned, Security Council reform will not be realised.

In his final year serving as Secretary-General, Mr Ban told reporters that this final AU summit was an "emotional moment". But he promised to return many times through the year, and continue to work hard on African issues, until his final day in office.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1'31"

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