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UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment Participates at High-Level Meeting on Climate

His Excellency Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, participated today in the High-Level Meeting on Climate and Sustainable Development for All, convened by María Fernanda Espinosa, President of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The meeting aims to address the issue of safeguarding global climate for present and future generations of humankind within the framework of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

On the sidelines of the meeting, His Excellency Dr Al Zeyoudi partnered the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the 2019 Climate Summit, Luis Alfonso de Alba, in hosting a breakfast for the co-leads of the nine coalitions established by the UN Secretary General as part of preparations for the UN 2019 Climate Summit, set to run in September in New York, and ensure transformative outcomes.

Marking the first meeting of the coalition co-leads, the breakfast was hosted at the headquarters of the Permanent Mission of the UAE to the United Nations. The event aimed to find common ground among the participants that would offer a roadmap to the Abu Dhabi Preparatory Meeting and the 2019 Climate Summit.

The event drew the participation of senior national representatives from Egypt, Sweden, Spain, New Zealand, Japan, China, Ethiopia, Peru, France, the United Kingdom, Marshall Islands, Turkey, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Ireland, and Chile. In addition, senior members of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, World Bank, World Economic Forum, United Nations Environment Programme, World Health Organization, SE4ALL, and United Nations Development Programme also attended the breakfast meeting.

Luis Alfonso de Alba presented attendees with an overview of the UN 2019 Climate Summit. He outlined the overall preparatory process for the Summit, including timelines, milestones, deliverables, and updates on the criteria to ensure that initiatives are ready to be presented at the Summit.

He said: “It is imperative that leaders come to the Summit with concrete action plans and clear time tables and, at the same time, we need to ensure that we put peoples’ needs in the center of the economic transformations that will be necessary to fight climate change.”

For his part, His Excellency Dr Al Zeyoudi said: “As some of you may know, the UAE was honored to host the preparatory meeting – known as the Abu Dhabi Ascent – for Ban Ki-moon’s own Climate Summit in 2014.  For the UN, it was an out-of-box but substance-driven model that delivered – not least giving us the Paris Climate Action Agenda, and a tangible moment of political will.”

He added: “While there is no silver lining to extreme weather, we are in a new phase of climate change.  2014 was still the world of mitigation.  Uncontrollable fires, devastating hurricanes and droughts, extreme cold and heat, sea-level rise – they were more like fantasy than realities.  Today, these are at the forefront of people’s minds.  For many countries and communities, climate change is now a form of relentless violence, and they are hungry for adaptation solutions like we have never seen before.  They are equally hungry to avoid needing them.”

Furthermore, on the sidelines of the High-Level Meeting, His Excellency Dr Al Zeyoudi took part in a panel session titled ‘Synergies between the Climate and Sustainable Development Agendas’. Joining him on the panel were Martha Delgado, Vice Minister of Multilateral Affairs & Human Rights of Mexico, Mary Robinson, Chair of The Elders and Founder of Mary Robinson Foundation, Manish Bapna, Executive Vice President and Managing Director of World Resources Institute, and Hindou Ibrahim, Co-Chair of the International Indigenous People’s Forum on Climate Change.

When asked to provide an example of how synergistic and interlinked approaches are being leveraged in the UAE to implement the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda, His Excellency Dr Al Zeyoudi said: “To effectively implement the SDGs, the UAE adopted a whole-of-government approach, including the creation of a National Committee on SDGs. Bringing together 15 government entities, the committee focuses on both our domestic and international efforts, to further drive mainstreaming of the SDGs across all our operations, as well as the work of our international partners. The committee has also developed a national implementation plan aligned with the UAE’s national development agenda, as well as a review mechanism to ensure that we are on the right track.”

He added: “Through the Prime Minister’s Office, we have also created SDG Global Councils, in collaboration with the United Nations, the World Bank, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and other partners. The Councils are a unique network of decision makers from governments, international organizations, private sector, academia and youth representatives that is mandated to share innovative practices and discuss the creative implementation of the SDGs at national and global levels.”

In closing, he said: “2030 is only 11 years away, but I am confident that we will make significant headway in achieving the SDGs. Yes, it will require the meticulous planning and concerted effort of all stakeholders, including the public and private sectors, academia, the youth and all interested parties working as one driving force.”


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