UN chief calls for ‘enlightened self-interest’ from world leaders to save ‘the whole planet’ from climate change
18 May 2019
Concluding a week-long visit to the South Pacific, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called on the world’s decision-makers to make “enlightened” choices on climate action because “the whole planet” is at stake.
“Over the past week, I have witnessed first-hand the impacts of climate change in the Pacific Island States”, the UN chief said in a statement concluding his visit to the region. “They contribute very little to the global climate emergency and yet, they are the ones that are being most affected”. He did not mince words in saying that for some of them, “climate change is now an existential threat”.
Pointing out that entire villages are being relocated, livelihoods destroyed and people becoming sick from climate-related diseases, Mr. Guterres lamented: “The risks are all too real”.
He drew attention to his time in Tuvalu, where he saw “an entire country fighting to preserve its very existence”.
And yet, the UN chief found “remarkable” that the countries facing these enormous challenges, have decided that “they are not giving up” but are instead “determined to find solutions”.
Not only have they developed ways to increase their resilience and adaptation, but according to Mr. Guterres, “they are leading the way in reducing emissions and are an example that the rest of the world should follow”.
In Vanuatu, his final stop in the Pacific, the Secretary-General tweeted that the vulnerable island State was one of “the most disaster-prone countries, made worse by the global climate emergency”. However, he added that he “saw first-hand how the Pacific island nation is facing threats with determined climate action”.