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UN, World Leaders Seek 'Innovative' Climate Financing for Poor Nations

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The United Nations and world leaders are leading a joint endeavor to find "innovative" sources of financing for developing countries in addressing climate change.

By announcing the establishment of a high-level panel that includes top officials from both developing and developed countries, UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon sought to help bridge the gap of financing that the world had failed to fill at the recent climate change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.

"It's mission is to mobilize the financial resources for climate change, pledged at the recent UN Climate Change conference in Copenhagen," Ban announced at a press conference at UN Headquarters.

The co-chairs of the high-level advisory group -- Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown -- joined Ban through a video link.

The group's other members include heads of state and government, senior ministers and officials from central banks and experts on finance and development.

"The group would develop practical proposals on how to significantly scale up both short-term and long-term financing for mitigation and adaptation strategies in developing countries," Ban said.

In December's UN climate change conference in Copenhagen, world leaders agreed to an accord that included promises of raising US$100 billion annually by 2020.

In particular, the group will look at how to jump-start the mobilization of "innovative" resources, through both public and private sources, to support adaptation, mitigation, technology development and transfer, and capacity building in developing countries, with priority for the most vulnerable countries, Ban said.

The panel members, who will be appointed for a 10-month term, are expected to produce a mid-term report in May and a final report containing recommendations before the next climate change conference in Mexico in December.

Ban said he will ensure that results of the group's work are communicated to the relevant UN conferences or parties with the full expectation that it will help build momentum "towards a successful negotiation of a comprehensive climate change agreement. "

"Let me emphasize the importance of rapid action," the secretary-general said. "It is particularly important to release money for immediate adaptation and mitigation efforts in developing countries, especially for the most vulnerable."

"Providing resources for adaptation is a moral imperative. It is also smart investment in a safer, more sustainable world for all," the secretary-general added.

In his remarks, Meles stressed that finance for adaptation and mitigation and transfer of technology are "of central significance for developing countries in general and poor and vulnerable countries in particular."

"This is so because these countries need financial and technological assistance to be able to adapt to an inevitable climate change and to contribute to the mitigation of such a change," Meles said.

While the provisions on the finance of the Copenhagen accord are below the hopes and expectations of many people in the developing world, they have nevertheless been welcomed by most of the leaders, he said.

"But even those who have welcomed the accord and its provisions on finance, have nevertheless expressed a high degree of skepticism about the practicality of these provisions," Meles said.

"Such deeply-felt skepticism is perhaps understandable given the many promises of financial assistance from the developed world have not been kept," he said.

"This time around, promises made have to be kept because the alternative is irresponsible management of the climate followed by catastrophic changes," he stressed.

Meles expressed belief that the advisory group can "play a better role in coming up practical ideas for the implementations of the provisions on finance of the Copenhagen accord."

"I am optimistic that the work of the advisory group will make it possible for the developing world to join the developed world in Mexico for a final and binding treaty on climate change," he added.

Brown pointed out that, despite the disappointment of not reaching a final agreement at Copenhagen, 92 countries have communicated support for the agreement, 66 countries have set out their plans for climate change or targets covering over 80 percent of global emissions.

"Already we can see that the promises are met, the accord will lead to the peaking of global emissions by or before 2020," he said.

"The high-level advisory group will take forward a crucial task. The commitment in our accord to a 100 billion in annual finance flows by 2020 to developing countries is one of its central elements," Brown said. "This cannot all be done from taxpayers' revenues, so we must examine new sources of finance, both public and private."

The British prime minister acknowledged that financing is one of the most difficult tasks in the international effort to combat climate change.

"If we can resolve this problem, then I believe many of the other challenges of climate change can also be resolved. So the task before us while daunting, is a very important one to the future of the environment of the world," Brown said.

(Xinhua News Agency February 13, 2010)

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