New York – In an extraordinary show of support for the Paris climate agreement adopted December 2015, 175 countries signed the Paris Agreement at a ceremony at UN Headquarters today, far exceeding the historical record for first-day signatures to an international agreement.
In his opening remarks to the high-level event the United Nations Secretary-General noted that “South-South cooperation (SSC) is crucial across the board” to achieve the ambitious goals outlined in both the Paris Agreement and the wider 2030 Agenda. Noting this, he announced the launch of the Southern Climate Partnership Incubator (SCPI), a new initiative of the Secretary-General that will “accelerate efforts to create and finance climate partnerships among developing countries in support of the Sustainable Development Goals”. The Secretary-General encouraged those present to learn more and participate in the initiative.
The SCPI will be jointly implemented by the Executive Office of the Secretary-General (EOSG) and the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC), in cooperation with other UN entities and stakeholders. It will be an open and inclusive multi-stakeholder platform focusing on fostering partnerships among countries of the global South in the areas such as renewable energy, climate resilience, smart cities, and big data.
The formal announcement by the Secretary-General was preceded by a launch event on April 21 2016 organized by EOSG and UNOSSC. At the event, senior representatives from Member States, UN entities, and civil society highlighted the importance of SSC to address the challenges faced by the international community. Participants also discussed how key stakeholders including the UN can work together to develop and strengthen these partnerships, and provided specific substantive examples from their experience.
Dr. David Nabarro, Special Advisor of the Secretary-General on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Climate Change, stressed that enhanced cooperation between developing countries, with active support from the global North, will be critical to achieve sustainable development and address climate change. He welcomed the leadership that major countries of the global South are taking to promote SSC in this area and underlined that promoting SSC is one of the Secretary-General’s key pillars on climate action.
H.E. Minister Xie Zhenhua, China’s Special Representative on Climate, provided Special Remarks. He reiterated China’s support for SSC to address climate change, including support for the Secretary-General’s efforts in the area and specifically for the SCPI. He noted that China was ready to work with all UN Agencies and Member States in this field.
Invited speeches from Member States, the UN system, and partner organizations followed Mr. Xie’s remarks.
H.E. Mr Thoriq Ibrahim, Minister of Environment and Energy, the Republic of the Maldives provided remarks as Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS). Minister Ibrahim explained that for the Maldives, the key to development is working in partnership with a variety of stakeholders. The Maldives consider SSC to be essential for development and expect an increasing role for these partnerships in the future. He welcomed the SCPI as an important platform for promoting and supporting South-South and triangular cooperation.
H.E. Dr. Richard Nduhuura, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Uganda to the UN, provided remarks as the newly elected President of the nineteenth session of the High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation. Ambassador Nduhuura noted that South-South cooperation is about addressing challenges that are too big for any one country in the global South to deal with singlehandedly. Climate change is one such issue that requires a coordinated response. He congratulated EOSG and UNOSSC on the launch of the SCPI and called on relevant partners to support the initiative.
H.E. Mr. Virachai Plasai, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Thailand to the UN, provided remarks as the Chair of the Group of 77. Ambassador Plasai noted that South-South and triangular cooperation are dear to the heart of the G77, and expressed a wish that the momentum created by the SCPI initiative be carried forward into other important areas in addition to climate change. Ambassador Plasai noted that the G77 looks forward to working with the SCPI to concretize areas of interest. He wished the SCPI every success in this endeavor.
Mr. Gilbert Houngbo, Deputy Director-General of the International Labour Organization and Mr. Ibrahim Thiaw, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme attended and participated in the joint event. In their remarks, both Mr. Houngbo and Mr. Thiaw underlined the importance of SSC for addressing climate change, described the many ways in which ILO and UNEP are already supporting South-South partnerships, and expressed their organizations’ commitment to working with EOSG and UNOSSC on the new initiative.
Statements of support from Ms. Helen Clark, Administrator of UNDP and Chair of the UN Development Group; Mr. Wu Hongbo, Under Secretary-General, Department of Economic and Social Affairs and Convenor ECESA; Mr. Li Yong, Director General of UNIDO; and Ms. Christiana Figureres, Executive Secretary of UNFCCC were delivered.
Intergovernmental Organizations, represented by the South Centre, and NGOs represented by Oxfam International also attended and expressed their support both for the new initiative and for SS and triangular cooperation to address climate change.
Mr. Jorge Chediek, Envoy of the Secretary-General on South-South Cooperation and Director of UNOSSC provided the Closing Remarks. Mr. Chediek underscored the importance of South-South cooperation for achieving the SDGs and the Paris Agreement. He noted that increasingly countries of the global South are turning to the UN for support to leverage and capitalize on the opportunities of South-South and other global interactions. He further noted that this new initiative is one way in which EOSG and UNOSSC are responding to these calls, particularly with respect to the climate agenda.
Link to news article on SDGs website
UN launches partnership initiative to promote South-South cooperation on climate change