UN Climate Speech / 24 Sep, 2018
Opening remarks by UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa at Africa Adaptation Initiative

Opening remarks by UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa at Africa Adaptation Initiative, New York, September 24, 2018:

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s a pleasure to speak with you at your very first Partners Roundtable for the Africa Adaptation Initiative.

First, I’d like to recognize my colleagues from the UNDP and the African Union.

I’d also like to recognize the Gabonese Government, which has—working with the UNDP—mobilized $5 million to support the Initiative’s three-year work program. Thank you for stepping up and providing this important funding.

Now more than ever we need action on climate change—not only in Africa, but throughout the world.

The devastating effects of climate change are causing destruction and suffering in all regions of the world with African nations among those affected the worst.

Our hearts go out to the victims and those who have suffered. But this only underlines why we’re here, the importance of our work, and the speed at which we must achieve our goals.

2015 was a pivotal year for the climate change process.

It saw the signing of the Paris Agreement, which provides the framework for the world’s response to climate change. It also saw the formation of the Africa Adaptation Initiative.

Both reflect the need to bring people together at all levels to find solutions to climate change. And, as this Initiative matures and evolves, they will be mutually supportive as well.

This is one reason why UN Climate Change supports the Africa Adaptation Initiative.

Our objectives are also closely aligned.

This includes enhancing climate action—especially climate change adaptation—and closing the adaptation gap itself across the continent.

We’re also supportive of this Initiative because:

  • It’s driven by stakeholders.
  • It’s both for and relevant to Africans themselves.
  • It builds and strengthens partnerships.
  • It supports African countries to engage with the UNFCCC process.
  • It promotes transparency…
  • …and much more.

But for it to be fully effective, strong and broad-based partnerships are required. In many ways, that’s why you’re here today. You recognize it will be the key to your success.

This isn’t always an easy task. These days, the world is turning increasingly inward.

But we know multilateralism is the only way forward. I know most of you feel the same way.

I believe we shouldn’t just embrace multilateralism, but enhance it. I call this inclusive multilateralism.

This is an approach where we don’t shrink our discussions with each other, we expand them. We hear from as many people as possible, right across the spectrum of society.

Why? We know governments cannot deliver the agenda to address climate change alone. We need innovative solutions from businesses, investors, state and non-state actors, and everyday people.

By widening the net, we capture ideas, harness momentum and let this fuel an enormous appetite for change that is then reflected at the national and international level.

I suggest taking the same approach…not only to make this Initiative fully operational, but getting more nations, more businesses and more people involved.

Africa is a continent rich in innovation, ideas and culture. It’s where life originated. And, if humanity is to both overcome its current climate challenges and thrive in the future, Africa must take a leadership role.

This Initiative has the potential to provide that leadership.

In the meantime, rest assured that UN Climate Change stands ready to assist you. You have our support.

I will also take the opportunity to promote this Initiative as I speak to groups throughout the world.

Because we are no longer separate nations, separate continents and separate cities and villages when it comes to climate change…

…we are all in the same boat together. It is up to us to make sure that all people are not only paddling together, but with the same effort and determination as the others.

I wish you the best of luck in your discussions and I look forward to seeing the results.

Thank you.