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Activities of Secretary-General in Morocco, 14-17 November

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Marrakech, Morocco, from New York, on Monday afternoon, 14 November, to attend the high-level segment of the twenty-second Conference of the Parties to the United Nations, or COP22.

On Monday evening, the Secretary-General and his delegation attended a dinner hosted by the United Nations country team, led by Resident Coordinator, Philippe Poinsot.

On Tuesday morning, the Secretary-General and the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Patricia Espinosa, held a press conference before the opening of the high-level session.

Mr. Ban told the press that, in the past decade, we have come very far.  The coming into force of the Paris Agreement shows that every country understands that climate change is happening.  “No country, however resourceful or powerful, is immune from the impacts of climate change,” the Secretary-General added.

“They also realize that it is in their own national interest to take action now,” he said.

He went on to say that while Governments must lead and be more ambitious in their climate plans, there are also thriving public-private partnerships working to transform key sectors of economies from land use and agriculture to sustainable transport.  Civil society, he added, must continue to keep Governments accountable.

In addressing a question about United States President-elect Donald Trump’s stated intent to back out of the Paris Agreement on climate change, the Secretary-General said that his sense was that, as a very successful business person in the past before being elected, he believed that Mr. Trump understands that there are market forces already at work on the issue and that “we need to harness these forces for the good of the planet and all the species in this planet”.

Before the start of the plenary, the Secretary-General met a group of parliamentarians from the Republic of Korea who were attending the conference.

The Secretary-General then joined His Majesty King Mohammed VI, Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar, President of COP22, and Peter Thomson, President of the General Assembly, at the official opening of the high-Level segment of COP22.

In his remarks, the Secretary-General underscored that countries have strongly supported the Agreement because they realize their own national interest is best secured by pursuing the common good.  “Now we have to translate words into effective policies and actions,” he added.

The Secretary-General reflected that after 10 Conferences of the Parties and as his mandate comes to an end, he hopes that that “we will have the courage, tenacity and wisdom to live up to our responsibility to future generations by protecting our only home: this beautiful planet Earth.”  (See Press Release SG/SM/18263.)

The Secretary-General then joined all of the heads of delegations at an official lunch hosted by His Majesty King Mohammed VI. 

On Tuesday afternoon, the Secretary-General held a bilateral meeting with His Majesty King Mohammed VI.  The Secretary-General commended Morocco’s contribution to the work of the Organization, including through the deployment of peacekeepers, as well as its leadership in support of the climate change agenda.

On Tuesday, the Secretary-General also met with Kyeungkyu Cho, Minister for the Environment of the Republic of Korea.  He also visited the Facebook/Oculus booth at the COP22 exhibit.

Later that day, in the presence of the Secretary-General, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea and President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon signed the text of the special agreement referring the border dispute between Equatorial Guinea and Gabon to the International Court of Justice.  The signing was a successful outcome of a process since 2008 to peacefully resolve the dispute.

Mr. Ban commended the two presidents for demonstrating true political leadership, courage and wisdom in reaching the mutually acceptable agreement, in accordance with the spirit and letter of the United Nations Charter.

“Today’s event,” he added, “is a testimony to the determination of your countries to move with a common vision to strengthen and respect the international rule of law, and contribute to lasting peace and good-neighbourly relations.”  (See Press Releases SG/SM/18265 and SG/SM/18266.)

On Wednesday morning, the Secretary-General met separately with the Minister for Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources of Saudi Arabia, Khalid al-Falih, and Xie Zhenhua, Special Climate Envoy of the President of China.

Following lunch, the Secretary-General participated in the closing of the Summit of African Heads of State and Government Hosted by His Majesty King Mohammed VI.

The Secretary-General pointed out that Africa is both at the forefront of the continued impact of climate change but also a dynamic continent full of entrepreneurial and promising young people looking for creative solutions.  (See Press Release SG/SM/18269.)

On Wednesday, the Secretary-General also attended the High-level Meeting on Climate Change organized by the Global Compact and the second Biennial High-level Ministerial Dialogue on Climate Finance.  (See Press Release SG/SM/18270.)

That day, he also met with Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, President of Burkina Faso, and with Dr. Hoesung Lee, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

On Wednesday evening, the Secretary-General attended the “Momentum for Change” awards ceremony.  (See Press Release SG/SM/18272.)

Returning to the Conference of Parties site in the morning of Thursday, 17 November, the Secretary-General met with leaders of the civil society organizations who had wanted to thank him for his determined commitment to fighting climate change.

Speaking to the many civil society representatives present in the room, the Secretary-General saluted the courage of civil society leaders who had consistently raised their voices on climate change.  He added that, in too many countries, civil society was being unfairly attacked and harassed.  Mr. Ban said that after 1 January, when he is no longer Secretary-General, he would join his voice to theirs, noting that they had a greater latitude to speak out than political leaders.  (See Press Release SG/SM/18274.)

The Secretary-General also attended the high-level event on accelerating climate action which aims to foster voluntary efforts, initiatives and coalitions on climate.  Over the last two years, the Secretary-General said, the initiative has demonstrated the power of partnerships to undertake transformational climate action.  He added that the so-called Action Agenda was central to the effort of implementation of the Paris Agreement.  (See Press Release SG/SM/18275.)

Before leaving Marrakech, the Secretary-General met with Salaheddine Mezouar, Morocco’s Foreign Minister and President of COP22.  The Secretary-General thanked him for hosting and organizing a very successful conference.

The Secretary-General then flew to Paris, France on Thursday, 17 November.

For information media. Not an official record.