Mr. Secretary General,
Mme Executive Secretary,
At the outset, I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation of H.E. Mr. Peter Thomson, President of the United Nations General Assembly, for convening this High-level SDG Action Event dedicated to climate change and the Sustainable Development Agenda.
We have entered the second year of implementation of the transformative Agenda for sustainable development and it is indeed important to regularly monitor and review progress as we move forward to implementing the important goals that the international community has set for itself. In September 2015, we pledged at the highest level to eradicate poverty and achieve comprehensive sustainability by 2030. Our quest to reverse climate change and keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius is a key vital component of the Agenda for sustainable development. SDG 13 that is committed to taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts through strengthening resilience and adaptive capacity to climate related hazards and natural disasters in all countries permeates the whole Agenda and is cross-cutting in its nature. If the international community fails in stopping global warming and implementing the landmark Paris agreement we shall put in jeopardy not only the realization of the Agenda on which we reached consensus after long and arduous negotiations, but also the future of generations to come. Failure cannot and must not be an option.
The Republic of Serbia takes the fight against climate change very seriously. President Nikolić signed the Paris agreement in New York in April 2016 and the Serbian Parliament will soon be ratifying that agreement. My country was among the first ten countries of the world and the first in the region to submit the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution to reducing CO2 emissions by 9.8 per cent compared to 1990. Serbia actively participated in the Marrakesh conference last November. The First Biennial Update Report was adopted by the Government in 2016 and was submitted to the Secretariat of the Framework Convention. The second National communication which will also be submitted to the UNFCCC Secretariat is in the process of preparation and the new Law on climate change of the Republic of Serbia is in the pipeline.
The Government of Serbia has established an Inter-ministerial working group to work on the adoption of a new revised Strategy for sustainable development and a financing strategy until 2030. Serbia is also working on the adaptation and harmonization of our policy to combat climate change with EU policies and standards as encompassed in Chapter 27 of our pre-accession negotiations with the EU. Naturally, the financing of the process of adaptation to EU standards in the environment will pose a serious challenge and we look forward to further utilizing other available resources, such as the Global Environment Fund and the Green Climate Fund.
In Serbia, we are well aware that our region of South East Europe is vulnerable to the effects of climate change. We have regularly been prone to serious losses in agriculture due to extreme weather conditions such as droughts, hail and massive flooding. In 2014, Serbia was affected by the largest flood in more than one hundred years that led to the loss of life and the destruction of homes, bridges and roads, accounting for the overall damage in the amount of €1.7 billion and affecting my country’s GDP in a very negative way.
There is no doubt that climate change is occurring and that it poses a great risk for our planet. Through the Agenda for sustainable development until 2030 we have set out a blue print to address this challenge. Or collective task is to rise to this challenge and implement the seventeen sustainable development goals.