UNESCO Director General participates in the high level ceremony for the signature of the Paris Climate Agreement

On 22 April, 2016 - The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, participated in the high-level signature ceremony for the Paris Agreement at the United Nations in New York, at the invitation of the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, and witnessed how governments formalized the agreement reached during the UN Global Conference on Climate Change hosted by the Government of France in December last year.

“This is a turning point in the history which bears witness to the strong commitment of the international community to keep the temperature increase below the dangerous threshold of 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, by building green societies that are fairer in sharing benefits, wiser in using resources, and more sustainable in protecting and nurturing livelihoods. A change in mind-set is underway and nothing can stop it”, the Director-General declared.

To become effective, the agreement needs to be ratified by at least 55 member states representing at least 55% of the Greenhouse Gas emissions. The fact that today over 170 Member States, including the United States and China, signed the agreement, is widely considered as a significant step to putting the Paris Climate Agreement into force as quickly as possible.

“We are breaking records here today, but records are also being broken outside.  We have to work against the clock to make sure that the Paris agreement will enter into force as soon as possible. Immediate climate action is essential for the achievement of all SDG’s”, the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said, calling upon all member states to turn the aspirations of Paris into concrete action. 

“In Paris we fought until the last moment against doubt and resistance, this tremendous effort collectively obliges us to live up to the expectations and ratify the Paris Agreement as soon as possible” said French President François Hollande.

Statements were also brought by amongst others John Kerry, Secretary of State of the USA, Zhang Gaoli, Vice Premier of the Peoples Republic of China, Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil, Arkady Dvorkovich, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Mr. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, Enele Sopoala, Prime Minister of Tuvalu on behalf of the SIDS, H.R.H. Princess Lalla Hasnaa on behalf of the Kingdom of Morocco, followed by passionate interventions by business representative, Mr. Anand Mahindra, Chairman, Mahindra Group, Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim of the Mbororo People of Chad and Leonardo Di Caprio, Peace Messenger for the UN.

UNESCO promotes the power of education, culture, sciences and communication as the drivers for sustainable development. The Organisation also facilitates the exchange of knowledge on sustainable development and climate change practices across the world. This holistic and multidisciplinary approach, covering the full range of UNESCO’s mandate, with a specific focus on Africa, on gender and on young people, underpins its work to help assisting Member States in finding mitigation and adaptation solutions that reflect the multifaceted nature of climate change.  UNESCO was very closely involved in the preparation of the COP21 in Paris, with the Host country, Governments, other UN organizations and civil society and is already working in close collaboration with the Kingdom of Morocco, hosting COP22, to make its expertise available at the service of Member States, to help them identify promising recommendations and make informed decisions, in close synergy with the overall UN system, including the UNFCCC.