Mr. Ban Ki-moon, eighth Secretary-General of the United Nations,
Mr. Yoo Jeong-Bok, Mayor of Incheon Metropolitan City,
Excellencies, distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen,
I warmly welcome all of you to this Second International Forum on Low Carbon Cities.
I give special thanks to the Incheon Metropolitan City for co-organizing and hosting this important event and for its leadership in promoting subregional environmental cooperation in North-East Asia.
I also thank all partner organizations working together to make this event a success.
COP27 has just concluded in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, and “the world’s leaders called for urgent action to address climate change, the defining issue of our age and the central challenge of our century,” as noted by the UN Secretary-General. ”Any hope of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees means achieving global net zero emissions by 2050.”
Responding to these calls of leaders, it is very timely that we gather today to discuss low-carbon development for cities in North-East Asia and beyond.
Our future lies in cities. Since 2019, the world population has been majority urban, and 54 per cent of the global urban population lives in cities in Asia and the Pacific. Cities contribute to over 80 per cent of the global GDP, consume 80 per cent of global energy, and are responsible for 70 per cent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, 55 per cent of which are from our region.
Cities also generate huge amounts of waste and pollution and threaten surrounding natural habitats and biodiversity. By 2050, we expect 60 per cent of the global urban population to live in cities in the Asia-Pacific region.
This makes cities an even more significant part of driving the global paradigm shift towards a low-carbon, resilient, safe, and sustainable future.
However, ESCAP’s Asia and the Pacific SDG Progress Report 2022 found progress stagnation and regression in the goals of sustainable cities and communities and climate action, among others.
The ambitions and targets included in the nationally determined contributions are not achievable unless cities join forces towards such a paradigm shift.
As a dominant contributor to GHG emissions, North-East Asia must raise ambitions and take significant strides to accelerate progress through establishing and enhancing partnerships, catalyzing knowledge sharing, identifying clear low-carbon pathways and scaling up nature-based innovative solutions and financing.
As suggested by the ESCAP’s report “The Future of Asian and Pacific Cities,” urban areas now have an unprecedented opportunity to become hubs of innovation in low-carbon development, urban resilience, new technologies, nature-based solutions, green financing, inclusion and health.
In this regard, I commend the progress made through the North-East Asian Subregional Programme for Environmental Cooperation, especially its efforts to bring cities together to promote climate action for sustainable development through the Low Carbon City Platform.
As the secretariat of this platform, we have worked closely with cities in these efforts and will continue supporting their climate action.
As such, we are delighted to jointly organize the Forum today. It will expand the partnership for promoting climate action at the city level and create synergies among existing city initiatives on low-carbon, sustainable and resilience development in North-East Asia and beyond.
This Forum provides a unique occasion for all stakeholders to network, strengthen partnerships, share knowledge and good practices, and coordinate policies and actions to achieve concrete impacts towards low-carbon and resilient cities.
Let me take this opportunity well in advance also to invite you to the 8th Asia Pacific Urban Forum to be held next October, next year in Suwon, Republic of Korea, where I hope the outcomes of your efforts can also be shared.
I wish you all success.