UN Opening Statement: Sherpa Senior Officers Meeting of the Climate Vulnerable Forum

Nov 9, 2015

UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in the Philippines Ola Almgren at the opening of the Climate Vulnerable Forum's Sherpa Senior Officials Meeting in Manila on 9 Nov 2015. Photo: UNDP

By: Ola Almgren, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in the Philippines


Honorable Senator Loren Legarda

Distinguished Officials of the Government of the Philippines led by the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Climate Change Commission

Distinguished Representatives of the Member Countries of the Climate Vulnerable Forum

Distinguished Representatives of the Manila Diplomatic Corps

Our Friends from Civil Society


Ladies and Gentlemen

Good morning.


Allow me, at the outset, to extend my warmest welcome to our CVF Sherpas on behalf of the United Nations family in the Philippines.


These are exciting times, with a number of climate change and disaster reduction related meetings going on almost simultaneously in the Philippines this week, a prelude to an even more exciting meeting in Paris at the end of the month, which will extend well into the second week of December.


This Meeting, in particular, has the opportunity to be considered historic as its results will feed into what may be a redefinition of life and development as we know it on this planet with the recent launch of the Agenda 2030 for sustainable development. We are on the threshold of transforming from what has been a traditional development pathway to one which will not only be sensitive to the environment but ensure improved living condition in the present while preserving resources for future generations.


That is why we commend the CVF countries, now chaired by the Philippines, for coming together to send an unequivocal message to the rest of the world, to take the collective necessary actions in effecting urgent climate action. If the spate of recent climate related disaster events are any indication, we do not have much time to maneuver out of the bind we have put ourselves in with regard to the impact of climate change.


The CVF is in a strategic position to articulate what should urgently be done, being already in the direct path of the unfolding adverse impacts of climate change. For example, your advocacy for a lower threshold of below 1.5 degrees Celsius bravely  connotes that 2 degrees is not good enough. We need ambition in setting for ourselves the starting point from which we will, as a collective, systematically reduce greenhouse gas emissions until global atmospheric temperature is stabilized to a safe level.


A silver lining to the gloomy climate prognosis is that there is still time, if limited to act. We can still take the opportunity not only to halt environmental degradation and its dire consequences but change the development pathway towards a more sustainable, cleaner and more productive trajectory beneficial to the overall well- being of humankind and our planet.


But it will require genuine cooperation and sharing, enabling the poorest and most vulnerable countries to leapfrog into a cleaner and more productive future. It means enabling access to mitigation and adaptation technologies and know-how and developed and developing countries joining forces to innovate more rapidly. It also means a just and equitable sharing in the results, particularly the benefits.


Over-all, the way forward will require deliberate and careful orchestration, from determining what needs to be done, to actually doing it.


And this is where the United Nations comes in. As a normative organization, members of the UN have to articulate norms and standards in addressing issues affecting the global community like climate change. And the UN is also a powerful catalyst and convenor which can enable crafting and implementation of solutions faster and more lasting.


This is why we do our utmost to support mechanisms like the Climate Vulnerability Forum, which may not be a “formal aggrupation” by UNFCC standards, but can (and is already) be an effective advocacy platform and a “ working”  mechanism which can formulate and showcase solutions to address the climate change problem.


On behalf of the UN, I would, therefore, like to strongly encourage you to continue to be bold, bolder even, because we certainly need boldness resolve and imagination, to overcome this gigantic problem called climate change.


As you grapple with the complex task of determining what needs to go into the CVF Manila-Paris Declaration, be comforted by the fact that your United Nations supports your aspirations fully and stands ready to help you implement operational aspects of such an Instrument. 


I am probably not overemphasizing the fact that the vulnerable peoples of the world are eagerly awaiting what CVF has to say and demand. On their behalf, I sincerely wish you, therefore, a very fruitful and successful Meeting!

Thank you and as we always  say in the Philippines- Mabuhay!

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