The wellbeing of the planet is directly tied to the wellbeing of its people. To achieve a future where no one lives in poverty and everyone lives with dignity, climate change needs to be at the forefront of our global agenda.
At the end of September, the international community gathered at the United Nations for the annual General Assembly to talk about the world’s biggest issues, and climate change was an important part of the conversation. This year, world leaders also adopted a new set of global goals, called the Sustainable Development Goals, which aim to end poverty, expand opportunity, and protect the environment.
In December, world leaders will gather in Paris for a conference on climate change, and we need to build on the global commitment to a better world made during the Sustainable Development Goals summit and commit to strong action.
As we head to Paris, here are eight quotes on the environment and the need for climate action made by leaders while at the UN last month:
- “We human beings are part of the environment. … [Man] possesses a body shaped by physical, chemical and biological elements, and can only survive and develop if the ecological environment is favorable. Any harm done to the environment, therefore, is harm done to humanity.” – Pope Francis
- “You, the world’s leaders, have committed to leave no one behind – and to reach those farthest behind, first. We can build on the momentum this December in Paris with a robust agreement on climate change. Remarkable changes are under way to reduce harmful greenhouse emissions. I have seen and visited vast solar power installations bringing a new energy future into being. There is wind in the sails of climate action.” – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
- “Importantly, the [Sustainable Development Goals] agenda includes a goal on taking urgent action on climate change—an acknowledgement by the international community that we do not have to choose between fostering development and fighting climate change; in fact, our development depends on addressing the climate threat.” – Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway, former Director-General Emeritus of the World Health Organization, and UN Foundation Board Member
- “Our stand in solidarity with the impoverished, the marginalized and the vulnerable cannot end with the adoption of a declaration and empty words and promises. The real challenge begins now, and the success of the Paris Climate Change Conference will be a key determinant of the likelihood that we will achieve the goals and targets set out in the global sustainable development agenda.” – Trinidad and Tobago Minister of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs Dennis Moses
- “Over the past few months, the number of countries submitting their climate action plans to the Paris agreement has grown from a steady stream into a sweeping flood. This unprecedented breadth and depth of response reflects the increasing recognition that there is an unparalleled opportunity to achieve resilient, low-emission, sustainable development at a national level.” – Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Christiana Figueres
- “We have this opportunity of empowering vulnerable countries like my own to leap frog development to sustainability. There are sufficient resources and technology to turn things around. All it needs is a new form of cooperation and the political will to breathe life into [the Sustainable Development Goals]. We need this to happen, we only have one planet, let us make it happen.” – Solomon Islands Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade Milner Tozaka
- “We can roll back the pollution that we put in our skies, and help economies lift people out of poverty without condemning our children to the ravages of an ever-warming climate . . . There is no stronger sign of leadership than putting future generations first.” – U.S. President Barack Obama
- “Our pledge is to work for an ambitious and universal legally binding outcome, recognizing that if we are to achieve sustainable development, we must conserve and support sustainable use of our oceans, seas, and fresh water resource, understanding that the protection of our biodiversity, ecosystems, and wild lives is essential.” – Grenada Prime Minister Keith Mitchell