8 November 2001


NEW YORK, 7 November (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan, delivered today on his behalf by Klaus Töpfer, Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), to the high-level segment of the Seventh Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Marrakech, Morocco:

It gives me great pleasure to send my greetings to this crucially important conference. His Majesty King Mohammed VI and the people of Morocco merit our gratitude for hosting this event and welcoming so many people, from so many countries, into their midst.

You meet to further the global fight against climate change. And you come together in the understanding that climate change is not just an environmental issue, but is also a fundamental development issue. Its adverse impacts endanger economic and social progress. And our response to it will require significant, long-term changes in economic and social behaviour. The Convention that you have had the wisdom to ratify provides the framework for those responses, and it commits the rich, industrialized countries to take the lead in modifying emission trends -- including the United States, the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases.

The agreements reached in Bonn last July were a political breakthrough that will help guide action on climate change for many years to come. I know you share my great appreciation for Jan Pronk of the Netherlands for his inspiring leadership as President of the Sixth Conference of the Parties. I am pleased that he has now agreed to serve as my Special Envoy for next year's World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. I am also confident that the discernment of the incoming president of the Conference of Parties, Mohamed Elyazghi of Morocco, will help you to complete and adopt the draft decisions prepared in Bonn.

The Bonn Agreements were also a victory for multilateralism. Indeed, joining forces against global threats to human society and the planet has never been more important. Success in Marrakech would sustain this momentum, generating hope that the Kyoto Protocol could be ratified by the industrialized countries and enter into force in time for next year's Johannesburg Summit.

This is the first Conference of the Parties to the climate change convention to take place in Africa. African nations have contributed little to the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. But like other poor countries, their reliance on agriculture, forestry and fisheries, as well as their vulnerability to natural disasters, leaves them most exposed to the consequences. Marrakech should show them that the developed world is taking this challenge seriously, and doing its part to keep climate change from introducing a new factor of inequity into our world.

Climate change is certainly one of the greatest global challenges the world has ever had to face. But let us not be daunted. Far more is within our power than is commonly understood. Moreover, the changes in our economies and transformation of our societies will bring enormous opportunities to

create new jobs, raise incomes, and improve living conditions. These are opportunities we can and must seize without delay.

Let me close by paying tribute to Mr. Michael Zammit Cutajar, whose tenure as Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretariat is coming to an end. For the past decade, he has helped to guide this process with great acumen and built up an effective and respected secretariat team in Bonn. His leadership will be sorely missed, but I have no doubt that he will remain an articulate voice on this and related issues. I know you join me in wishing him all the best in his future pursuits.

Please accept my best wishes for a successful conference.

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