With the growing number of ratifications of major environmental agreements suggesting that more countries are committed to addressing global ecological issues, the true test remains implementation and enforcement, especially with regard to greenhouse gases, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned today.

“Action on climate change is particularly urgent, given its profound implications for virtually every aspect of human well-being, from jobs and health to growth and security,” he said in a message to a seminar in New York organized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).

“Until we stop treating climate change as a strictly environmental concern, and instead recognize the full nature of this threat, our action will fall short.” He noted that last year’s World Summit at UN Headquarters decided on a number of measures aimed at protecting the global environment, including a call for a more coherent institutional framework to tackle ecological challenges.

“Ensuring environmental sustainability is one of the main pillars of the global fight against poverty, and is essential for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” he said referring to the targets set by the UN Millennium summit of 2000 to dramatically slash poverty, illiteracy, maternal and infant mortality and a host of other global ills by 2015. Ensuring environmental sustainability is number seven on the list of eight goals.

The Fourth IUCN Academy of Environmental Law Colloquium will continue until 20 October at the Pace Law School, White Plains, New York, on the theme “Implementing Environmental Legislation: The Critical Role of Enforcement and Compliance.”