UN Climate Speech / 22 Mar, 2011
Stakeholder Dialogue “Implementing the Cancun Agreements”

Stakeholder Dialogue “Implementing the Cancun Agreements”

Mexico City, 22 March 2011


Address by Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change



Ambassador Espinosa, President of COP16/CMP6,

Minister Elvira, Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources,

Honourable delegates and stakeholders,

Ladies and gentlemen,


It is a pleasure to be back in the country that helped the world secure the important step forward last December in Cancun. And it is equally a pleasure to speak again in the presence of the woman who presided over the conference and ensured that a deal was reached.


Wise people say that the path begins with a crossroads. Cancun was an important crossroads for the intergovernmental climate change process - a crossroads at which the world chose and agreed to take an important step towards a climate-safe world.


Now, the international community, including NGOs, need to move on from the crossroads and begin walking purposefully down the path that will both solidify the Cancun Agreements - and lead to their implementation.


So what has happened since Cancun, and what needs to happen going forward?


Cancun set in motion the design and construction of the “infrastructure for implementation” needed for stepped-up action on climate change. In line with timelines agreed in Cancun, the design and construction need to be taken forward this year for each of the following:


  • The Adaptation Committee, which will boost cooperation to help developing countries protect themselves from climate change impacts. The secretariat has already received a significant number of proposals from countries on possible modalities and procedures for the committee, representing a solid basis for work.


  • During this year, Governments will discuss and launch the Technology Mechanism, which will facilitate international cooperation on technology for mitigation and adaptation. A workshop to gather views on how to move forward is scheduled for April in Bangkok with the participation of NGOs.


  • The Green Climate Fund. The Transitional Committee that will design the fund is currently being constituted and will meet here in Mexico on April 28-29. Governments will discuss the functions of the permanent Board.


As you know, Cancun also achieved progress on the evolving mitigation framework. The mitigation targets and actions submitted in 2010 have been officialized, but need to be understood in greater detail. As a result, the first round of the mitigation workshops for developed and developing countries called for in Cancun, which aim to increase this understanding, will also be held in conjunction with the Bangkok session.


Additionally, work has begun on the design of the registry, which will assist countries in matching financial and technology support with nationally appropriate mitigation actions by developing countries.


Yet the mere existence of an international agreement does not in and of itself drive real action.


Rather, policies are needed at the national and sub-national levels that work in tandem with international policy. This is the only way that the implementability of international policy can be ensured in a way that responds to national needs and communities.


In this sense, the Cancun Agreements offer important incentives to develop national policies. And within this, stakeholders have a key role to play in driving action.


In terms of adaptation, national policy efforts are still in their infancy, although they are urgently needed.


To date and in response to international efforts, many national initiatives have focused on identifying adaptation needs, but little real implementation has taken place.


For the development of adaptation policies and their implementation, local initiatives can provide valuable input.


Additionally, businesses need to become a key driver of adaptation action. Sooner or later, all businesses will have to climate-proof their operations, from supply-chain to point of sale, from place of production to place of investment.


In terms of mitigation, national policy efforts are more advanced.


The process of crafting low-carbon national policies that can work in tandem with international policy has already begun. This is encouraging because the 2 degrees Celsius temperature limit and envisioned low-carbon growth in the Cancun Agreements will be impossible to achieve without significantly scaling up the use of renewable energies.


Private sector investments into renewables have steadily increased by leaps and bounds since 2007 - but more is needed.


Nationally appropriate mitigation actions in developing countries can hold major investment opportunities. For example, a NAMA for rural electrification could attract critical investments from renewable energy companies, provided that the appropriate incentives exist. Incentivizing investments in NAMAs will contribute towards their full implementation to the benefit of millions of rural people. In this context, it is important to coordinate policies with private sector initiatives.


Ladies and gentlemen, in conclusion, allow me to state quite frankly that implementing the Cancun Agreements to the full will be impossible without the active involvement of stakeholders from every walk of life.


Thank you.


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