Simon Stiell Opening Speech: We Can't Afford Rest Stops, Detours or Stumbles at this Halfway Point in Humanity's Climate Journey

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Friends, on behalf of my colleagues across the secretariat, a very, very warm welcome to all of you.

We have much work ahead, so let me get straight down to business.

People talk about the architecture of the Paris Agreement that all your nations collectively created and agreed.  I prefer to think of its engineering.

The design phase is completed, and our task now is to put that machinery to work, fully and fairly.

Crucially - we need every part of this machinery fully functioning and working coherently together.

So - what does that mean for you and your work here in Bonn?  Let me touch on a few key issues.

On finance:

First, we must make serious progress on finance -- the great enabler of climate action.

Here in Bonn, I urge you to move from zero-draft to real options for a new collective quantified goal on finance.

We cannot afford to reach Baku with too much work still to do. Please, make every hour here count.

We need more climate finance while we negotiate a future goal. Progress on one, enables the other.

New grant and highly concessional forms of finance to developing countries must be coupled with global financial reforms that deliver debt relief and affordable finance, and finding new and innovative sources of finance, outside of the process.

We must also move towards better carbon markets by making progress on Article 6 here in Bonn…

Getting these markets to work can unlock more funding for national climate plans and adaptation…

That's why we're convening Parties and stakeholders during these meetings, to build consensus on a way forward at COP29.

On Nationally Determined Contributions: 

This new round of national climate plans – NDCs 3.0 – will be among the most important policy documents produced so far this century.

NDCs are not just about averting disasters through reducing emissions…

Done well, they can serve as powerful blueprints, to propel each of your economies and societies forward, and drive more resilience, more opportunity, better human health and higher living standards.

These plans should be bolder - with more ambition - and should speak to closing the implementation gap,  building on what has already been achieved.

They should be broader, covering whole economies, all greenhouse gases and be 1.5-aligned.

And their benefits should flow to all, including women, Indigenous Peoples, youth and those most vulnerable to climate impacts hitting right now.

There is no one-size-fits-all; after all they are nationally determined.

And we know many Parties will need help putting them together, especially the most vulnerable nations.

The secretariat – working with the entire UN system and our partners – is working overtime to provide practical tools which can help.

UNDP's Climate Promise is a central component of the UN system's practical measures to help Parties.

Next week we’ll also launch our NDC 3.0 Navigator, developed with the NDC Partnership, to help Parties access information, tools and contacts that can help them develop new NDCs with a focus on real implementation.

On transparency:

Under the Paris Agreement, Parties agreed to submit their first Biennial Transparency reports this year.

These reports will help Parties build the stronger evidence base for ambition.

They’ll also send donors and investors a clear signal about the scale of the opportunity, as well as the needs.

We are on track to finalizing the reporting tool, so it's available for use by all Parties by June 30th, on schedule.

I urge all Parties - let’s not allow perfection to be the enemy of the good in getting this first round of BTRs submitted this year.

We're here to help you take that crucial first step, particularly through extensive capacity building and we will work with you to improve your reports over time.

On impacts and adaptation:

Climate change impacts are not isolated events.

They transcend political boundaries, damaging economies and causing cascading changes to our societies and culture, with children and the most vulnerable bearing the brunt.

Which is why every Party needs a National Adaptation Plan that covers every sector of the economy and works across our societies.

It's time to re-envision NAPs, and turn our minds to how they can be improved.

One clear way is by designing them with a clear view of unlocking much more adaptation finance and support.

To date, only 57 -- only 57 -- Parties have put together a plan. By the time we meet in Baku, this number needs to grow substantially.

We need every country to have a plan by 2025 and make progress on implementing them by 2030.

Civil society and inclusiveness

The task ahead is to put the climate action machinery to work fully, but also safely and fairly, so its benefits are equitably shared through a just transition.

The role of civil society is essential - to ensure all voices have a chance to be heard, and to hold all of us to the promises that we make.

And if we want to leave behind business-as-usual, gender equality and climate action must rise in tandem, to realize their full transformative force.

We will keep playing our part to ensure a safe space for meaningful and inclusive participation.

Budget and process

Collectively Parties have directed us to deliver around 20% more mandated events during these June Sessions, compared to last year. And every year the number of mandates grow.

We welcome the vote of confidence in this process and our capacity to provide high-quality services in support.

However, financial contributions have not increased to match these growing mandates, and many existing funding pledges have not been fulfilled on time.  This approach has its logical and human limits, and growing costs.

I do appreciate the progress in the past few months in filling some of these gaps, including to ensure all Parties - especially the climate-vulnerable - are represented here in Bonn.

But we still need sustainable and consistent funding to meet all your needs, and growing mandates.

So in conclusion friends…

For all of us, who live and breathe climate change every day of every year, there are plenty of obstacles to overcome.  It can be tempting to feel discouraged some days...

But let me offer a counter-point, in the hope of putting some wind in your sails as we start these meetings.

What you - and people like you - have achieved in the past three decades through this UN-convened process - is cause for pride and renewed purpose.

Without UN-convened international cooperation, we would be headed for up to 5 degrees of global heating, which most of humanity likely could not survive.

We are now heading for around 2.7 degrees. This is still ruinously high, and there’s a long and steep road ahead of us to get to our shared goal of 1.5 this century, but we should be energized that we are approaching a halfway point.

It’s clear that the second half of humanity’s climate journey will be even harder, and climate action will need to move at a much, much faster rate… 

So we cannot afford rest-stops or detours at this half-way point in humanity's climate journey... 

And we absolutely cannot afford to stumble in the next ten days, or for global climate progress to stall this year and beyond.

This requires trust and respect for each other.  Full adherence to the code of conduct is essential, with no exceptions.

Respectful disagreements are part of this process, but they must not be its defining feature or its outcome.

I urge you to come together, and to overcome differences.  This is not a moment for trying to try, but for finding solutions and forging pathways forward.

And it's now my privilege to hand this process over to the co-chairs.

I thank you.


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