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EU at the UN for a healthy planet

25/09/2019 - 16:21
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Two important summits took place in the margins of UNGA this week - The UN Climate Action Summit and the UN Summit on Sustainable Development Goals - where the EU expressed its strong commitment on accomplishing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development towards a peaceful and prosperous world, with human well-being on a healthy planet at its core.

sustainable development goals, climate action, SDG 13, UNGA74

The EU at the UN Climate Action Summit

The United Nations Climate Action Summit, convened by the UN Secretary General António Guterres, took place in New York on 23 September. First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete joined the President of the European Council Donald Tusk at its opening. The Summit came at an important moment, both in terms of international climate action and the EU's engagement in domestic action and commitments. As the only major economy to have legislated on its Paris Agreement commitments, and having presented a Strategic long-term vision for a prosperous, modern, competitive and climate neutral economy by 2050 – A Clean Planet for All, the EU had a strong story to tell at the Summit. The EU is also the largest contributor of international climate finance. Climate change is too big for any government to tackle on its own. The European Union continues to promote and support multilateral solutions within the United Nations. It is time all parties play an active part in reversing global warming.

The EU and the Sustainable Development Goals: Delivering on the 2030 Agenda

The European Union was also presented at the UN Summit on the Sustainable Development Goals. On behalf of the EU, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said, "Our ambition is to make the EU the first climate neutral continent in the next three decades, step up biodiversity protection and restoration, zero pollution in our continent, transform our entire food system, from farm to fork, move to a fully circular economy; and make our transport systems entirely clean and more intelligent.” In his speech, he also added: "We must stand up for multilateralism. We are one people, one race - the human race - living on one planet. Let's be bold and let it be known that globalism is in fact enlightened patriotism."

In the margins of the Summit, the EU also signed a joint declaration with ACP (African, Caribbean, and Pacific) countries, underlining commitments in support of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Prior to the UN Climate Action Summit and the UN Summit on Sustainable Development Goals, EU High Representative Federica Mogherini had reiterated the EU's call to climate action in her statement on World Peace Day, 21 September, when she stated that "Today, especially as young people all around the world are mobilising in their call to save our planet, the time for action is more pressing than ever." Federica Mogherini explained that "Climate change multiplies threats to peace and security as it adds pressure to already fragile livelihoods and destabilises local communities and their environments. Food insecurity, water scarcity and environmental degradation often lead to competition over natural resources, and tensions as communities are forced to flee and migrate in search for a better future. Nearly a billion people live in areas with high exposure to climate hazards; some 400 million of them live in countries with already low levels of peacefulness. These conditions have the potential to further undermine the functioning of affected societies. "

She stressed that "It is our collective responsibility to work towards a more peaceful, secure and prosperous world for present and future generations. And we do it. We do this by addressing the root causes of instability, investing in conflict prevention, in our defence and financial cooperation with partner countries, and climate diplomacy. By investing in our own peace, we invest in peace in the whole world."

EU welcomes the UN report on oceans and climate change

Furthermore, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its Special Report on the impact of climate change on oceans and the cryosphere – the frozen parts of our planet on 25 September. The EU welcomes the UN report on oceans and climate change which provides policy-makers across the globe with a strong scientific basis for their efforts to modernise the economy, tackle climate change and address its impacts on the oceans, promote sustainable development and eradicate poverty.