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Ban calls on countries to introduce practical steps to adapt to climate change

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27 July - Stressing that adaptation to the impact of climate change is an “essential investment in our common future,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged countries rich and poor to take practical steps to deal with the impact of global warming.

In a speech in front of senior Mongolian Government officials in Ulaanbaatar, the capital, Mr. Ban said cutting greenhouse gas emissions and trying to mitigate climate change should only be one part of the global response to the issue.

“We must get serious about adaptation and we must do so now… Adaptation is both a practical need and a moral imperative,” he said.

Mr. Ban emphasized that many of the people who are bearing the brunt of climate change are those who can least afford it or who contributed least to the problem, such as the citizens of landlocked developing countries like Mongolia, where desertification and extreme weather conditions are increasing threats.

“Expanding deserts suffocate livelihoods and a way of life. The degradation of vital pasture lands directly affects Mongolia's economy and culture. And you are not alone. You are part of the one third of the world's population – 2 billion people – who are potential victims of desertification.”

Mr. Ban said any climate change deal reached at global talks in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December must include provisions where affluent nations provide assistance to vulnerable and poorer States to adapt.

“Billions in public financing will be required. There must be new money, not just re-packaged official development assistance (ODA)… We must invest in making our communities more resilient and in reducing our vulnerability to natural disasters. And we must invest in the ecosystems that sustain us.”

The Secretary-General outlined a series of practical steps that he said must be taken, starting with the gathering of more detailed scientific data on climate impact so that local and national authorities can target resources where they can do the most good.

He called for a reduction in disaster risk wherever possible, noting that in countries such as Bangladesh, Cuba and Viet Nam, “it has proven to be among the most cost-effective investments the world can make.”

He cited the planting of mangrove trees on unprotected coastlines and the boost of community education and evacuation plans as relatively inexpensive ways in disaster risk can be reduced.

Mr. Ban also said that the world needs to “green” its development efforts so that “climate resilience, sustainability and low-carbon growth become the foundations of future prosperity.”

Today the Secretary-General also helped launch a think tank in Mongolia to study issues related to trade and landlocked developing countries. In addition, he held talks with President Elbegdorj Tsakhia and Prime Minister Bayar Sanj.

At a joint press conference with the Prime Minister, Mr. Ban pledged that he would “continue to push for concrete and significant financial commitment for adaptation,” particularly to help landlocked developing countries.

He also emphasized that the UN is ready to help such States “in their efforts to establish efficient transit transport systems, including through provision of substantive and technical assistance and by raising awareness of the international community on the special needs of the landlocked developing countries.”

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