From the outset, let me welcome you to the ACP Secretariat and to the Special meeting of the Sub-committee on Sustainable Development in preparation for the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. COP21, as you are all aware, will take place from 30 November to 11 December 2015 in Paris, France.
The main objectives of this two-day meeting are to discuss and where possible agree upon common ACP positions on the key issues that will be negotiated in Paris and to contribute to the preparation on ACP Member States to enable them to participate in a more effective and efficient manner at COP21.
For the 79 countries that make up the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, poverty eradication and the attainment of sustainable economic development while protecting the natural environment are key objectives which cannot be achieved without taking into account climate change which is no doubt one of the greatest challenges to sustainable development of our time.
The adverse impacts of climate change poses immediate and long term significant risks to all ACP countries, however this threat is particularly acute for Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries, as evidenced by the devastation caused by extreme weather events in a number of ACP Member States in 2015. In this regard, adaptation to climate change is an immediate and urgent priority for the ACP Group and should be addressed in a comprehensive manner in the new agreement to be adopted in Paris.
The ACP Group is diverse, including amongst its membership, 37 Small Island Developing States, 48 Least Development Countries and 15 Land-locked Developing Countries, as well as those recovering from conflict and political instability. Notwithstanding this diversity, we share similar persistent and unique vulnerabilities which binds us together and allows the Group to work in solidarity, to improve the living standards of our people.
Therefore as you deliberate on some of the important issues which will be discussed in Paris, including, Adaptation, Mitigation, Loss and Damage, Finance, REDD plus, Technology Development and Transfer and capacity building, it is hoped that you will agree on a common position for COP21, as you have also done in preparation for previous COP meetings and given the importance of this COP in particular.
It would be remiss of me if I ended my remarks without saying a few words about climate finance, which as you are all aware, is a challenge. The new agreement to be adopted in Paris must therefore ensure that climate finance is adequate, predictable and sustainable, in order to address the urgent needs of developing countries.
At the same time, we should also be willing to explore options which can complement the traditional North to South flow of development assistance. In this regard, South-South and Triangular Cooperation is gaining momentum as an approach being used by ACP Group in the fight against poverty and promoting sustainable development. Therefore, mobilizing funding from a variety of sources, including public and private, bilateral and multilateral and innovative sources of finance, in order to support ACP Countries will be critical to the fight against climate change.
In doing so, we will need to prioritise our actions and determine the most effective instruments and financing vehicles which can produce the greatest impact, taking into account the international allocation of tasks and the potential leverage effect of Aid on Private financing.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
I would encourage you to have your deliberations in a constructive manner over the next two days and look forward to the outcome of this meeting, with great interest as a delegation from the ACP Group will be attending COP 21 to not only increase the visibility of the ACP, but also to work in collaboration with all relevant stakeholders and to support our Member States in any way possible in order to contribute to a successful outcome in Paris.
Our endeavour will not end in Paris. We shall, from our deliberations today and tomorrow, also look at the ways and means to bridge any potential gap between the expected commitments and the outcome in Paris. Our Group being the one of the largest formal groups of Developing countries, with a privileged partnership with the largest Group of Developed countries, the EU, will not shy away from its responsibilities.
I thank you for your kind attention and welcome you once more to the ACP House.
Dr. Patrick I. Gomes
ACP Secretary General