Top United Nations officials underscored the necessity of the partnership between the world body and civil society in addressing climate change at a non-governmental organization (NGO) conference which kicked off in New York today.

While Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has identified climate change as one of his top priorities, “we also understand that this is not a challenge for the UN alone,” Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro told over 2,000 NGO and civil society representatives gathered at UN Headquarters.

Confronting climate change “requires a truly global effort; an effort that draws together governments, the private sector and civil society in one sustained push for change,” she said at the opening of the three-day gathering with the theme “Climate change: how it impacts us all.”

The effort to halt climate change presents remarkable opportunities to implement a new sustainable development process; promote cleaner business, industries and jobs; make better and wiser use of limited natural resources; and re-invest in depleted natural capital, Ms. Migiro said.

“In short, combating climate change presents an opportunity to break with the past, to look anew at the way we operate, the way we do business and the way we relate to each other, now and in the future.” General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa also noted that tackling climate change requires “a radical change of behaviour and consciousness,” and the effort can only succeed “if it is home-based” and engages communities “in identifying the actions and responses that are most suited to their particular circumstance.”

Civil society can contribute greatly and most effectively if it fosters awareness and persisting in developing inventive initiatives at the grassroots level which inspire people to work towards a solution, she added. “The United Nations is an intergovernmental organization, but it draws its strength and inspiration from the support of civil society worldwide,” she said.


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.