United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden flags the threat of climate change at UNESCO’s General Conference

On 16 October 2007, Mr Koďchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, Mr George N. Anastassopoulos, President of the General Conference, and Mr Zhang Xinsheng, Chairman of the Executive Board, welcomed H.M. Carl XVI Gustaf, King of Sweden, to UNESCO.

The King paid a visit to UNESCO on the occasion of the opening of the exhibition of the 34th session of the General Conference entitled “Planet Earth: From Space to Place.”

In his address at the plenary, H.M. Carl XVI Gustaf pleaded in favour of a sound environment as the first and foremost condition for the sound development of our world community. “The necessity to break the link between economic growth and the negative impact on the environment is the challenge we are facing today,” he said. “I believe that it is possible that growth can be made sustainable. […] Action today is important for growth tomorrow and it is necessary for the sake of future generations and continued life on this planet.”

In closing, the King highlighted UNESCO’s role in helping to spread knowledge of the status of the environment and in providing assistance in developing educational programmes.

After his address at the plenary, H. M. Carl XVI Gustaf attended the opening ceremony of the General Conference exhibition dedicated to Planet Earth in anticipation of the United Nations International Year of Planet Earth to be celebrated in 2008. (For more information please see UNESCO Press Release N°2007-122)

In his opening remarks at the exhibit, the Director-General extended a special welcome to H.M. Carl XVI Gustaf making a special reference to the King’s strong call for action in support of the environment made in his intervention at the plenary.

Explaining that the aim of the International Year of Planet Earth is to demonstrate the great potential of the Earth sciences to lay the foundations for a safer, healthier, and more sustainable society, Mr Matsuura said the exhibition presented Planet Earth from the unique perspective of UNESCO’s interdisciplinary work in the sciences, education, culture and communication.

“Never before in living memory has Planet Earth been subjected to such rapid and profound change both in terms of the physical environment and of social transformations. This is particularly the case considering global climate change,” Mr Matsuura continued. In this context, he mentioned that the aim of the Intersectoral Task Force on Climate Change he had convened was to examine how UNESCO, through its existing programmes, can address the multidisciplinary challenges climate change presents.

During their meeting earlier in the day, the King of Sweden, the Director-General, the President of the General Conference and the Chairman of the Executive Board agreed on the urgent need for action on global climate change. The award of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize to Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have provided new momentum, on which the international community must build. All affirmed that UNESCO had an important role to play in this regard, as had been demonstrated at the thematic debate on “Facing the multidisciplinary challenges of knowledge societies and global climate change: UNESCO’s contributions to United Nations reform at the regional and country levels” at the recent session of the Executive Board.

Author(s): Office of the Spokeswoman - Source: Flash Info N° 137-2007 -  Publication Date: 17-10-2007

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