V20 INAUGURAL ADDRESS OF SECRETARY CESAR V. PURISIMA
08 October 2015 Lima, Peru
Today marks the beginning of our collaborative effort to turn the tide against climate change.
We are humbled to see that we are not alone in this fight. We are thankful to the international community, the UNDP (as the ad-hoc CVF Secretariat) and the World Bank for their support in this endeavour, along with other partners here today as we hold this Inaugural Meeting in this beautiful country of Peru.
We are here today to discuss what has become the definite challenge faced by this generation: climate change.
In 2010, it was estimated by the Climate Vulnerable Forum’s DARA Report that climate change claims the lives of 400,000 people a year, 90% of whom come from developing countries, many of which comprise the V20. A 2014 UN report counts that climate change displaced 22 million people, 19 million of whom come from Asia, 1.4 million of whom was displaced by Typhoon Haiyan alone.
The World Bank said that in the last four decades, climate and weather related disasters were reported to have increased nearly five-fold, with economic losses increasing from about $150 billion in the 1970s to $850 billion in the last decade. Without decisive and concerted action, this can only get worse. The Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has predicted that so-called ’20-year storms’ will become more frequent, and rising sea levels will put thousands of communities at greater risk of storm surges and flooding.The World Bank Turn Down the Heat Reports alarmingly warn: a2-degree Celsius rise in global temperatures — the current target for curbing global warming — could bring a 20-percent reduction in available water for power, agriculture, and consumption.
Indeed, not only is climate change an issue of social justice, it is also an issue of fundamental human rights. Everyone, especially those living in the most vulnerable areas of the planet, has a right to breathe clean air, to drink clean water, and to live in prosperity on a secure and sustainable planet.
As such, climate change should be treated with the gravity of a human rights issue. We can no longer be ignorant and indecisive. We are fully convinced that climate change is the defining challenge of our time. Overcoming it is a matter of survival for people on all continents and vulnerable communities everywhere. As vulnerable and developing countries, we from the V20 contribute least to this problem, yet suffer the greatest losses and have the least ability to solve this issue.
The V20 was born out of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, specifically the Costa Rica Action Plan, which emphasised Finance as a main tool to combat Climate Change. Climate change has already held back global development by close to 1% of the world GDP. The additional economic costs from climate change amounted to USD 44.9 Billion in total for the V20 countries. Inaction is set to cost us even more. This number is set to multiply almost 10 fold by 2030, amounting to USD 418 billion given this rate of climate degradation. These together will not only lessen the qualities of life people enjoy, but will take life as its ultimate cost.
We understand the power of finance as a mobilizer in climate action. Together, we will strive for pioneering innovative solutions to finance climate action. It is our responsibility to our constituents to be financially and economically prepared to minimise the long term disruption of climate change. It is likewise in our best interests to research, support and adapt forward thinking initiatives to finance climate change to put a stop to the warming of the earth. Further, we will make earnest representations for V20 participation in various fora for international cooperation, such as the G20.
As we look forward to COP21 Paris, we target strong policies to combat climate change. I hope this meeting injects inspiration and renewed energy for our climate initiatives and proves to be a fruitful avenue for our efforts.
We share a common experience: we stand on frontiers most vulnerable to climate change. But we also share a common call and a common vision: for humanity to unite towards climate action. Here in Lima, we forge a path to renew our hope and regain our right to live in a sustainable planet.
I look forward to our discussions later today.
 Climate Vulnerable Forum-backed Climate Vulnerability Monitor: A Guide to the Cold Calculus of a Hot Planet, conducted by the DARA Institute: http://www.daraint.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/CVM2ndEd-FrontMatter.pdf
 UN-backed Global Estimates 2014: People Displaced by Disasters report, conducted by the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC): http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/201409-global-estimates.pdf
 World Bank Turn Down the Heat Reports: http://www.worldbank.org/content/dam/Worldbank/document/Full_Report_Vol_2_Turn_Down_The_Heat_%20Climate_Extremes_Regional_Impacts_Case_for_Resilience_Print%20version_FINAL.pdf