Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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02-Dec-2019 00:12:34
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The Secretary-General is in Madrid, and today he today spoke at the opening of the UN Climate Change Conference, otherwise known as COP25. He thanked the Governments of Chile and Spain for working together to make COP25 possible.

“Such solidarity and flexibility are what we need to beat the climate crisis,” he said. The Secretary-General urged world leaders to listen to the millions of people around the world – particularly young people – who are calling for them to do much more to tackle the climate crisis. He stressed that this is not just the job of one person, one industry or one government alone. We are all in this together, he said.

He added that the green economy is not one to be feared but an opportunity to be embraced, and stressed that the transition from the grey to the green economy needs to be a fair one, taking into account the people whose jobs and livelihoods are impacted. “Open your ears to the multitudes who are demanding change. Open your eyes to the imminent threat facing us all. Open your minds to the unanimity of the science.”

The Secretary-General also called on parties at the Conference to achieve progress on key items – namely, achieving success on Article Six and continuing to boost ambition in preparation for new and revised national climate action plans due next year.

A few moments ago, he held a joint press conference with the President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sanchez, in which he thanked Spain again for their impeccable organization of the Conference of Parties and their cooperation with the Chilean Government.

He also spoke at the Climate Vulnerable Forum in which he reiterated his commitments to small island developing States and Least Developed Countries to keep fighting for increased ambition on climate action.

Also, at the Roundtable of Heads of State and Government, he called on world leaders to lead and not lag behind businesses, youth and local authorities who are already taking bold action and steps to tackle climate change.

Yesterday, you will have seen that the Secretary-General gave a press conference in which he stressed that our war against nature must stop and called particularly on big emitters to step up their ambitions, adding that without their participation we will not be able to reach our goals. All of his remarks have been sent to you.

The Secretary-General is also having a number of bilateral meetings with leaders who are attending the Conference, and tomorrow, he is expected to meet with His Majesty Felipe VI of Spain.

The Secretary-General yesterday appointed Mark Carney of Canada as his new Special Envoy on Climate Action and Finance.

As Special Envoy, Mr. Carney will focus on implementation of climate action, with special attention to significantly shifting public and private finance markets and mobilizing private finance to the levels needed to achieve the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement.

Mr. Carney, who is currently the Governor of the Bank of England, has held numerous positions in finance in both the private and public sectors.

Today, the Secretary-General appointed Bruno Lemarquis of France as his Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH). He will also serve as the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Haiti.

Most recently, Mr. Lemarquis served as Deputy Assistant Administrator and Deputy Director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Crisis Bureau/Global Policy Network, following his role as Deputy Director of the UNDP Crisis Response Unit from 2014 to 2018.

The Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, is in Dakar, Senegal, today, where she has participated in an international conference on "Sustainable Development, Sustainable Debt".

She will also meet with senior Government officials, the UN country team and other UN entities while in Dakar. She returns to New York tomorrow.

Today is International Day for the Abolition of Slavery.

This observance aims to stress that slavery is not a historical relic. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), more than 40 million people worldwide are victims of modern slavery.

Though modern slavery is not defined in law, it is used as an umbrella term covering practices such as forced labour, debt bondage, forced marriage, and human trafficking.

Essentially, it refers to situations of exploitation that a person cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion, deception, or abuse of power.

In addition, according to ILO, more than 150 million children are subject to child labour, accounting for almost one in ten children around the globe.

The Under Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, just concluded a visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to follow up on last week’s violence.

He was in Beni, on Saturday, where he visited the UN peacekeeping office that was partially burned down last week. He met with local authorities and the Congolese military leadership currently carrying out operations against the Allied Democratic Forces, the armed group better known as the ADF.

Jean-Pierre Lacroix said his visit was one of solidarity with the population of Beni and with the UN staff deployed in the area. He added that he understood the population’s anger following the killings of more than 100 people by the ADF in just one month, but stressed the need to avoid fighting the wrong enemy. The UN and its partners, including the Congolese security forces, must do more to protect civilians, he said, adding that the attacks against the UN were planned and fueled by manipulation.

Mr. Lacroix also visited Biakato, the site of another attack that killed three Ebola response workers and injured one peacekeeper. There, the head of Peace operations emphasized the need to ensure that the Ebola response remains fully operational.

In Goma, he met with the Governor of North Kivu, and, in Kinshasa today, he held meetings with the Prime Minister and other stakeholders.

Meanwhile, in the eastern DRC today, new protests took place in Beni, with some deaths reported by the Congolese police. As the situation remains volatile, the UN peacekeeping intervention brigade and the Congolese armed forces patrolled an area taken back from the ADF just outside of Beni.

Dr. Tedros, the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), was also in the eastern part of the DRC this weekend where he visited health workers impacted by the recent attacks on Ebola response staff.

In Goma, Dr. Tedros reiterated the WHO’s steadfast support to the impacted communities and to the Government of the DRC to bring the Ebola outbreak under control. He also commended the work of health workers. He called for improved security in the region to protect health workers trying to contain Ebola.

The Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, has announced a $3 million contribution from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to help people impacted by severe floods, mudslides and landslides in Kenya.

The funds will allow the UN and other humanitarian organizations to provide emergency food, livelihood support, shelter and health services for the most vulnerable people in the hardest-hit areas. It will also be used to improve access to safe drinking water, as well as hygiene promotion campaigns to prevent water- and vector-borne diseases.

The storms have caused destruction and damage of houses, health facilities and schools, displacing thousands of people and disrupting basic services in at least 32 of the 47 Kenya’s counties.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, will begin a three-day visit to Costa Rica tomorrow.

Ms. Bachelet will meet with the President, several ministers, the President of the Supreme Court, legislators, and the Ombudsperson. She will also engage with civil society organizations, including indigenous associations, trade unions and youth movements.

In eastern Ukraine, nearly half a million girls and boys continue to face grave risks to their physical health and psychological well-being, according to a UNICEF report today.

Despite recent developments intending to protect the rights of children impacted by eastern Ukraine’s more than five-year-long conflict, these children continue to go to schools with bullet holes and bomb shelters and live in neighbourhoods that are intermittently shelled and littered with landmines.

UNICEF stressed that a political solution is long overdue and called on all parties to the conflict to halt the fighting.

Lastly, I am delighted to report that two more Member States have paid their regular budget dues in full. Thanks to Papua New Guinea and Saint Kitts and Nevis, which brings us up to 138.

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