'We can't ignore the facts'

Statement from REC Executive Director Marta Szigeti Bonifert on the occasion of COP19/CMP9, Warsaw, Poland

November 22, 2013 | By Marta Szigeti Bonifert
Photo: Mateusz Wlodarczyk

Madam President, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

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

The climate is changing - we can no longer ignore the fact. Just a week ago, typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines; a few days ago flash floods left people dead in Sardinia. Where next? Do we really believe that our own families and children will not be affected? How can we reduce the losses and damage caused by extreme weather events, floods, droughts, forest fires and other climate-related disasters?

There is an urgent need to assess opportunities for implementing adaptation measures, enhancing resilience, sharing knowledge, building capacities, developing financial instruments, and strengthening cooperation at local, regional, global and institutional level.

Among its beneficiary countries, the Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe (REC) numbers a wide range of parties: Annex I, Annex B and non-Annex I countries, as well as economies in transition. The REC is determined to support the Durban Platform process in all its countries, helping them in their efforts to meet the targets of the Second Commitment Period of the Kyoto Protocol, and in their complex preparations for the 2015 global climate treaty.

The REC will make every effort to assist the countries of the region to fully understand their mitigation potential and the possibilities for economic growth through a low-carbon, green, sustainable economy.

The decision to give a greater role to non-state actors in international climate change negotiations is one that the REC welcomes. In response to the appeal made by the chairs of the Durban Platform during their meeting with observer organisations, the REC will continue its work under Article 6 of the UNFCCC. As Regional Focal Point for Article 6, and through its Sustainable Development Academy, its active participation in the Environment and Security Initiative and its many other projects, the REC will continue to disseminate information and build capacities, not only in the fields of climate change mitigation and adaptation, but also in the context of the international climate negotiations.

Among the REC's beneficiaries are several countries that have completed the transition from a planned to a market economy. This is the case for Poland, where the REC's country office is actively involved in the fields of environmental education and climate change. The Visegrad countries were once the recipients of capacity-building assistance. Now they themselves are helping to build capacities in countries not listed in Annex I. The REC remains ready to support such efforts, especially in Eastern Partnership countries.

The REC welcomes the upcoming Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the second part of which makes clear that no country will escape from the devastating impacts of climate change, and that comprehensive adaptation efforts are essential. The REC will continue to support adaptation measures in its beneficiary countries, both by mainstreaming adaptation considerations in decision-making processes and by the provision of up-to-date information technologies such as the National Adaptation Geoinformatic System.

The REC is tackling issues at regional and local level through EEA-funded grants for adaptation to climate change in Hungary; the Italian-funded CEO Platform for Green Growth in the MENA region; and the EU-funded projects Low-Carbon South East Europe and Methodology for Effective Decision Making on Impacts and Adaptation.

Central and Eastern Europe - where the REC is based - is one of the regions' most vulnerable to climate change impacts. We call on stakeholders at all levels to join the carbon conversation and generate solutions.

Thank you for your attention, and thank you to Poland for hosting us!