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BigLogo.gif UN Member States on the Record
08 September 2009 / 02:23


DESA launches crucial report on climate change
01 September 2009 / 10:32

[Dateline: New York | Author: Department of Economic and Social Affairs]

As negotiations for a new global climate agreement enter their final stages, the United Nations is releasing a report analyzing the growing demands on developing countries as threats of a warming world add to longstanding developmental challenges.

The report looks at what is required from the international community to make sure that climate and development goals can be advanced together.

Staff members in the Development Policy and Analysis Division and the Division for Sustainable Development in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs and those of the UN Forum on Forests Secretariat were behind this timely contribution to addressing what the Secretary-General has called “one of the most fundamental challenges ever to confront humanity.”

For more information and to download files, go to the Development Policy and Analysis Division web site

The World Economic and Social Survey 2009: Promoting Development, Saving the Planet, was launched today in Geneva by Richard Kozul-Wright, team leader of the report, and in New York by Rob Vos, Director of DESA’s Development Policy and Analysis Division and Tariq Banuri, Director of DESA’s Division for Sustainable Development/CSD Secretariat.

Jomo K. Sundaram, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development and Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Secretary of Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), launched the report in Johannesburg and Bangkok, respectively. Additional launches are being held in Beijing, Islamabad, Moscow, Nairobi, New Delhi and Santiago.

Big adjustments and considerable political effort will be needed if countries are to make the shift to low-emission economies in the required time frame. But the real challenge will be to ensure that this takes place without derailing longstanding development goals and in an equitable manner.

This will require some hard policy rethinking and a significant scaling-up of resources – financial and technological – at the multilateral level.

The report

The need for such a rethinking drives the analysis of climate change and development in the World Economic and Social Survey 2009. The scientific evidence is unequivocal on the man-made causes of dangerous climate change.

There is now a race against time to keep global temperatures within safe bounds. World leaders have agreed that the planet cannot take more than a 2 degree increase in the average global temperature, which, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), translates into a cut in global emissions of between 50 and 80 per cent by 2050.

This flagship publication from DESA argues that failing to address the current level of global inequality over the next half century or more, while the world goes about trying to solve the climate problem, is economically, politically and ethically unacceptable. It contends that low-emissions, high-growth pathways for development are both feasible and necessary.

The report finds that market solutions, including the development of a carbon market, will not deliver the required resources for developing countries to establish these pathways. Rather, the report recommends a combination of large-scale public investments and active policy interventions.

Strong and sustained political commitment by developing country governments and, even more critically, sizeable and effective multilateral support in both finance and technology transfer will be needed to make this transformation possible.

The onus is on advanced economies, which have the resources and the responsibility to lead the way – to make bold commitments not only to reduce their own emissions, but also to help developing nations undertake mitigation and adaptation action on the scale and with the urgency required to protect the planet.

The report rejects any one policy blueprint for achieving these goals, examining instead the key building blocks in order to identify the best possible options available to countries at different levels of development.

It focuses, in particular, on the potential synergies to be generated through big investments in energy efficiency, renewable energy and the reduction of vulnerability to climate shocks.