'We are all potential leaders'

December 7, 2012

Statement from REC Executive Director Marta Szigeti Bonifert on the occasion of COP18/CMP18, Doha, Qatar

Madam President, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to thank the Government of Qatar for hosting this conference and for leading the countries of its region towards more climate-friendly policies.

COOPERATION IS VITAL: Marta Szigeti Bonifert addresses COP18 in Doha. Photo: REC archive

COP after COP, as the world becomes increasingly vulnerable to a changing climate, so many challenges remain unresolved that we appear to be losing touch with the public mood, unable to make decisions, and far away from ensuring a future for generations to come. We are moving towards a 4-degree scenario as the 2-degree scenario becomes more difficult to reach. Within the UNFCCC, more bodies, working groups, acronyms and terminology are being created, but there is still no ambitious commitment to a long-term framework. While old country groupings are fragmenting and new groupings emerging, the context remains unchanged: we are faced with ensuring the survival of humankind within our planetary and social boundaries.

But the good news is that, as the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, Ms Christiana Figueres mentioned during the business summit, we are all potential leaders and do not need to wait for our leaders to act. Action is already taking place in pioneering countries, regions, cities and businesses, with the active involvement of civil society.

Building from here, we still need a mega-multilateral joint venture, moving towards an economy based on resource efficiency and the true valuation of resources, mainly directed towards poverty eradication and the provision of food, water, energy, income, education, health and jobs as well as greater resilience, gender equality and social equity. Work with local stakeholders is vital.

We at the Regional Environmental Center believe that cooperation across sectors and borders is a vital way to accelerate the process. We welcome the new Doha work programme for Article 6 of the Convention and the UN Alliance on Climate Change Education, Training and Public Awareness, and we pledge our commitment as recognised Regional Focal Point. Through our network in 17 countries we serve in Central and Eastern Europe and beyond with the support of donors including the European Commission, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands and Sweden.

According to the needs of the countries and the regions, the Regional Environmental Center supports and promotes long-term sustainable non-controversial solutions for adaptation and mitigation. We explore opportunities for new financing mechanisms such as energy efficiency investments in the housing sector and unlocking private finance for low-carbon investments, and we identify solutions to climate change-related health challenges. We work in partnership to support a diversity of stakeholders and endeavour to strengthen the resilience of our region.

In Turkey, in particular, we promote dialogue between businesses, the government and media.

To conclude, the Regional Environmental Center is ready to join this mega joint venture, a unique roadmap for the sake of humankind.

Thank you for your attention!