On 1 April, 2015, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, met with Janos Pasztor, recently appointed United Nations Assistant Secretary-General on Climate Change, to exchange information on preparations for the forthcoming 21st UN Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC), to be held in Paris in December.
The Director-General congratulated Mr. Pasztor on his appointment, which comes at an essential time for global climate negotiations. Mr. Pasztor indicated that his tenure will focus on “supporting the Secretary-General’s efforts towards a universal climate agreement in 2015 and mobilizing global climate action on the ground, including through a coherent United Nations System-wide action”.
“Climate change is the single most significant challenge humanity now faces and the UN is utterly committed to a transformational outcome at the Paris meeting later this year”, said Mr. Pasztor.
Irina Bokova underlined that UNESCO is active in all its fields of competencies in support of Member States’ climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts, in close cooperation with sister UN bodies. In this respect, she highlighted in particular the areas of climate change education and public awareness, climate science and knowledge, including traditional and indigenous knowledge, as well as the promotion of climate change mitigation and adaptation work in UNESCO sites (World Heritage, biosphere reserves, Global Geoparks) and the mainstreaming of gender equality considerations in all efforts.
The Director-General informed Mr. Pasztor that UNESCO is fully mobilized towards the success of COP21 through effective UN collaboration. Through close cooperation with France as the host of COP21, UNESCO will organize or co-sponsor several main climate change events throughout 2015 leading up to COP21 -- including an International Scientific Conference – Our Future under Climate Change on 7-10 July; a Business and Climate Change Summit on 20-21 May; the celebration of the World Oceans Day on 8 June; and the 9th UNESCO Youth Forum on 26-28 October, with a focus on climate change and sustainable development.
The Director-General also updated Mr. Pasztor about the work of the UN Secretary-General’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB), currently working on a climate risks policy brief to be finalized at its third meeting in Malaysia at the end of May 2015 for subsequent transmission to the UNSG. The climate change policy brief produced by the SAB and presented at the Secretary-General’s Climate Summit in September 2014 will be updated on time for the July International Scientific Conference in Paris and afterwards for the COP 21.
During the meeting, Ms. Bokova and Mr. Pasztor agreed on the imperative for the UN system to join forces towards a transformational outcome of the 2015 Paris Climate Conference (COP21) and to mobilize global climate action on the ground.