Having just arrived back in Timor-Leste on 25th June from New York and Tokyo, Ramos-Horta departed four days later for Bangkok, to address the Asia Regional Forum on Climate Change co-hosted by the French Government, European Union, United Nations and the Asia Institute of Technology, from 1st to 3rd July.

Soon after his arrival in Dili, Ramos-Horta held conversations with the President of the Republic, President of the National Parliament, the Prime Minister, former PR and PM Xanana Gusmao and members of Commission B (Foreign Affairs and Defense) of the National Parliament. He also attended the inaugural meeting of the newly established National Commission on Maritime Boundaries.

Ramos-Horta also visited the HQs of the Democratic Party to pay tribute to the late Fernando Lasama ARAUJO and held discussions with leaders of the party.

On 30th June Ramos-Horta departed for Bangkok as guest of honor of the French Government to deliver the key-note speech to the Asia Regional Forum on Climate Change. His speech is entitled “Saving our Common Home: Our Common Responsibility”.

The Conference was attended by close to 500 delegates, among whom some 300 scientists and members of civil society from across Asia.

Answering a question from the audience and later at a Press Conference, former President Ramos-Horta expressed optimism that a legally binding Treaty will be agreed upon in Paris in December with credible substantive outcome.

Ramos-Horta expressed confidence in the French Government leadership as the co-host with the UN of the December 2015 COP21 Climate Change Summit in Paris. The Paris Summit is expected to bring together 195 countries.

Ramos-Horta stressed that world public opinion, media and civil society are much more engaged now and there is greater focus and pressure on Governments to put aside selfish national interests and agree on a strong Climate Change Treaty.

Ramos-Horta returned to Timor-Leste immediately after the Conference.

________

 

 

Saving Our Common Home:

Our Common Responsibility 

 

 

Speech by Jose Ramos-Horta

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate (1996)

Former President, Prime Minister, 

Minister for Foreign Affairs of Timor-Leste

Chair, High Level Independent Panel

on UN Peace Operations

Co-Chair, International Commission

on Multilateralism (on United Nations Reform)

 

Bangkok, 1st July 2015

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

 

I am not a scientist; and scientists have long shared with us incontrovertible evidence pointing to the extremely serious degradation of our Common Home as a result of human activities. So I will not rehearse what has been said and written by others with more authority.

Peoples of the developing world, in particular those of the Small Island Developing Countries, have benefited the least from the XIX and XX Centuries industrial revolution and are blameless for the barbaric damage done to Planet Earth.

Yet they are the most vulnerable to climate change and the ones who pay a disproportionate price for what I would call the XX and XXI Centuries trans boundary environmental crimes that include dumping of nuclear, chemical and industrial wastes in the seas in the East African coast, over fishing by fleets from far away richer countries leading to depletion of fish stocks and impoverishment of tens of millions of peoples whose livelihood depend on the seas; uncontrolled logging in Asia and Africa contributing to desertification.

Human beings were and are responsible for climate change and human beings must find the solutions. Decades of meticulous and unassailable scientific studies by thousands of reputed scientists have alerted us about the extreme gravity of the health of our Planet; the men and women of science have done their part in sharing with us the data they have meticulously collected over many decades; and they are showing the way forward to reversing the environmental degradation of our Common Home.

Now it is up to politicians to show statesmanship on a global scale; and diplomats and politicians will be held responsible for any failure in Paris. So failure is not an option.

I commend the French authorities for their leadership and hard work leading to the Paris Summit.

 

Excellencies,

We are confronting increasingly dramatic environmental challenges and at the same time our world is facing unprecedented threats to regional and world peace and security.

As the Chair of the High Level Independent Panel on UN Peace Operations my colleagues and I delivered to the Secretary-General our comprehensive and detailed analysis of the security challenges the world is facing; and we provide recommendations on how we can better equip our common Organisation to do better in preventing and resolving conflicts when they have erupted.

Only through collective will we may succeed in resolving the  devastating wars in Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Iraq, Mali, DRCongo, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Ukraine and violent extremism that challenges the very existence of States.

The humanitarian crisis ensued from these conflicts have no parallel in recent history; and they are setting back decades of positive Economic and Social Indicators in the affected Middle Eastern countries; in addition these wars are causing colossal environmental damage,

These are all interrelated challenges. Besides killing people and destroying property, wars inflict a heavy toll on the environment and set back efforts towards sustainable and equitable development which are “sine quo non” conditions for peace.

There seems to be no end to the bad news. The ongoing economic and financial crisis which erupted in the US in late 2008 continue to reverberate around the world. As a consequence, most OECD countries have drastically reduced their ODA budgets.

The United Kingdom is a notable exception and is in fact the only G7 power that even in the midst of severe economic and financial constraints committed 0,7% of its GDP to ODA. Prime Minister David Cameron of the UK deserves our collective applause for his vision and courage.

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

The UNDP has described and proposed four main areas for resources focus; I subscribe to this view:

  • Mainstreaming climate risk management into development planning
  • Empowering communities to identify solutions and scale up local innovations
  • Strengthen countries’ own capacity to work towards a zero poverty – zero emissions future.
  • Support countries to stimulate entrepreneurship.

• Issues under discussion after the latest COP 20 meeting in Lima, Peru, last December:

 

  • Need for an agreed outcome with legal force: Everyone wants a Paris agreement. Everyone agrees that some differentiation among countries is needed in terms of who should carry the burden of climate change actions.

The principle that everyone should do what they can is at the base of this, but how to agree on how much each country should participate? This can only be solved with solidarity and with genuine willingness to contribute to global common good.

  • Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs): The principle has been widely discussed and has become more realistic and achievable.

The success of using INDCs will depend on genuine commitment by countries; genuine willingness to contribute.

 

• Adaptation:

  • Much of the discussion is about mitigation. However, as we know that climate change is happening right now, not in some distant future, adaptation measures are crucial for many countries.
  • This has a special meaning for my country and for many other Small Island Developing Countries. Our people are in a particularly vulnerable position, and this can affect both security and sustainable development:

▪ Security dimension: large sectors are vulnerable to CC. SIDS are more vulnerable due to narrowly based economies. CC will be a risk multiplier and increases competition for                            scarce resources, potentially leading to conflict.
▪ Sustainable development, including progress to achieve development goals, will remain elusive so long as natural disasters continue to undermine progress. This is certainly                              the case for SIDS, where natural hazards such as hurricanes/cyclones and tsunamis have caused widespread and significant losses in SIDS. These hazards are further                                            magnified by climate change.

  • The discussion is ongoing as to what extent adaptation plans may be financed from the Green Climate Fund. This is of crucial importance for the countries already affected, and I hope agreement can be reached to give this sufficient priority.

 

• Loss and Damage:

  • Loss and damage has been a controversial issue, since in the debate loss and damage was seen as a “compensation” tool for historic climate change by developing countries, and opposed as this by developed countries.
  • Controversial or not, the fact is that countries have suffered loss and damage and special consideration needs to be given to those who need it.

• Mitigation:

  • This continues to be at the heart of the UNFCCC negotiations.
  • The main question is whether targets should be binding or based on a global goal for a low emission pathway, and several types of formulas are being discussed.
  • Again this is a question of genuine commitments by countries. It is of course hard to give up something that you already have. But when the alternative is a global disaster, we do not have a choice!
  • In this area, technology plays a very important part. Use of more clean energy, energy efficiency and better urban infrastructure will all contribute to mitigation.

• Finance – Green Climate Fund:

  • Some results will be achieved by countries individually making cuts in emissions and also implementing adaptation measures. But the goal is not achievable without financial support between countries. The GCF is crucial.
  • In the same spirit as the SDG financing for development, to make the GCF work requires that we all lift our game. $100bn per year is required for overall financing of our overall climate change actions. Much of this should be channeled through the GCF. We got off to a good start by the pledging of more than $10bn after the Lima conference last year. Let’s move from there to the scale that would create the results we need.

• Forests

  • The REDD+ and UN-REDD initiatives are already in place, with UN-REDD supporting national readiness in 56 countries.
  • Forests as a carbon sink play a crucial role in the overall result we are looking for.

• Gender:

  • o After last year’s conference in Lima, it was agreed that we should advance gender balance and promote gender sensitivity in developing and implementing climate policy.
  • o The least we can do is to make sure women are fully represented in all aspects of this process, including meetings like this one.

• Education and awareness raising:

  • o We have agreed to develop education strategies and increase attention towards education on climate change.
  • o This would allow us to boost public participation and importantly we would enlist the energies of the younger generations in this work.

 

 

Excellencies,

China, whose economy experienced the most dramatic progress in history, catapulting it to the status of a global emerging power, has done much to assist other developing countries in their national efforts to lift their peoples out of extreme poverty.

Chinese leaders are acutely aware that their own country’s well-being is intrinsically linked to the well-being of the region and of the world as a whole; rapid industrialization and modernization has had enormous impact on the environment; this is acknowledged by Chinese leaders and they have taken innovative measures to address these challenges.

India too, another giant Asian emerging power, has adopted policies and taken steps to redress the environmental degradation caused by demographic pressures and industrialization.

The challenge for the two Asian giants is how to reconcile their natural and legitimate right to continue their industrialization and modernization drive with the imperative need to meet their own national goals on mitigation and adaptation. I believe they are doing their very best to reconcile these seemingly contradictory goals.

The rest of us whose combined CO2 emissions is minute compared with those of the OECD economies and of the other emerging economies of the South, do have also responsibilities towards our own people, our future generations.

However, we must face up to the corroding impact of corruption, waste and mismanagement, exclusionary economic policies, deficits in social and political dialogue, politics of exclusion instead of inclusion; and acknowledge these are the causes of much of the on-going devastating conflicts in parts of the world, in particular in the African Continent.

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

We all understand the economic and political difficulties faced by our friends in the US, Europe and Japan.

ODA budgets have shrunk to very modest levels when compared with the percentage of ODA committed by the UK and the Nordic countries but we understand that their own people are facing serious hardships.

It is in this context that new partnerships must be built between industrialized countries and emerging economies with a view to forging a strategy to address the multi-dimensional challenges we face. The rest of the world cannot remain hostage of the selfish conflicting interests of a few.

Major powers must behave like truly major powers, displaying leadership and statesmanship in bridging their differences and exploring innovative ideas and strategies that ultimately will benefit all.

The opening session reminded us this morning why, after Kyoto protocol in 2005 (that constituted an important first step but remained a very symbolic and how incomplete first step), the stakes of COP21 in Paris are high: the aim is to reach, for the first time, a universal, legally binding agreement that will enable the 195 parties to combat climate change effectively and boost the transition towards resilient, low-carbon societies and economies.

I’m very honored to be here because the stakes of this meeting are high: from now to the closing session with Key outputs of scientific and political discussions and the Message from RFCC for COP21, numerous presentations and discussions on a wide range of Climate change related topics will be presented by regional experts.

We are here to reinforce the collective engagement on such important matters for everyone in the region, to highlight our awareness and readiness to undertake this highly needed program of action, and to outline relevant ways for mitigation and adaptation. We are here to send the green light that we are ready at regional level. We know that good solutions exist at all levels, from local, national to international levels.

Two fundamental questions are yet to be resolved: the finalization of the INDC, and the financing of this new universal agreement. And a third one, linked to both, is about the link, including financial, between Climate Change and Sustainable Development, as it will be highlighted in less than two weeks in Addis Ababa, and in September during the United Nations General Assembly September 2015 in New York.

The financing of this universal agreement is crucial, especially in a context where most of the Developed countries don’t even comply with the obligation to dedicate 0,7% of their budget to Development Aid.

We haven’t reached yet the US$100 billion needed for the Green Climate Fund, and many countries are still late to submit their contributions to the UNFCCC, and the carbon emissions cuts are not yet enough. And Bonn wasn’t successful as expected.

Another question, dated from the beginning of talks and negotiations on CC, including in Copenhagen, is who is going to pay, and how?

While rich countries were seen for a long time as the only funding source because of their responsibility in CC, emerging countries changed their mind, acknowledging that they became major carbon emitters and that they have a role to play in financing the fight against CC.

On that topic, we observe an increasing gap between the emerging countries and developing countries on financing mechanisms, between the ones that favor Green Climate Fund – in which many were out of REDD+ mechanism – and those who favor bilateral solutions.

Although we still face many challenges to get all conditions in order to reaching December 2015 goal, significant steps forward have taken place and there is reason to be optimistic about COP21: all the parties acknowledged the urgency to act and take further steps;

Leaders of the G7 economies have committed themselves, at least in eloquent words, to total decarbonation of the world economy in this Century, led by 2 major objectives: 40 to 70% cuts in carbon emission, and the energy sector transformation by 2050, as well as their agreement in favor of a legally binding framework.

 

END

 

Abbreviations:

CC: Climate Change

SIDS: Small Islands Developing States

INDCs: Intended Nationally Determined Contributions

UNFCCC: United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change