Tuesday 15 September 2009
Sustainable Development

UIC at the 3rd World Climate Conference in Geneva

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UIC was present at the World Climate Conference-3 Better climate information for a better future, organized by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and various partners in Geneva, that took place from August 31st to September 4th. The main focus of the conference was on how to adapt and prepare for the increasing consequences of climate change, with a technical and scientific approach.

The opening session included Mr Kofi Annan, President of the Global Humanitarian Forum, Mr Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of WMO, Dr Alexander Bedritsky, President of WMO, H.E. Mr Hans Rudolph Merz, President of Swiss Confederation and Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General on Climate Change. Dr Brundtland pointed out in her address that “as you all know, in less than four months, the world’s governments will meet in Copenhagen to seal the deal on a new climate change agreement. Any such agreement must be scientifically ambitious, fair and effective in reducing emissions” and she continued “Clear, credible scientific data is essential for informed decision-making at the global level in Copenhagen this December. It is essential for those in the business community who are creating the new green technologies that can drive low-carbon growth. And it is vital to creating a more informed public discourse on our response to climate change. The science demands we act boldly, or we may not get a second chance.“

On the 1st of September Margrethe Sagevik, UIC, participated in a session entitled “Climate, Transport and Tourism”. During the session two white papers on tourism and transport were presented and the panelists were invited to give their comments to these. The session Chair was Luigi Cabrini, Director Sustainable Development of Tourism, United Nations /World Tourism Organisation.

The transport panel consisted of Sibylle Rupprecht, Director General, International Road Federation, Jean Andrey, Professor of Geography and Environment Management, University of Waterloo (Canada) and Margrethe Sagevik, UIC Sustainable Development Senior Adviser, while the panel on tourism among others included OECD’s head of Tourism Unit, Alain Dupeyras.

The “White Paper on Weather and Climate Information for Tourism” was written and presented by Daniel Scott, Chair in Global Change and Tourism, University of Waterloo and the ‘White Paper on Climate information on Transport” was written and presented by Geoffrey Love, World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).

The transport panellists acknowledged and debated the paper on transport. UIC emphasised the need to focus on both mitigation and adaptation in the transport sector, and welcomed this cooperation between the tourism and transport sectors. Margrethe Sagevik thus presented the main findings and ambitions of the ARISCC-project so far, outlining the need for cross sectoral cooperation in order to develop resilient sustainable transport systems. Further on, Sagevik brought forward the recommendations from the Bridging the Gap-initiative to the COP 15 in Copenhagen in December that the future climate regime must recognise the importance of upgrading existing and design of new robust transport infrastructure and communities and provide funding for this.

As a curious detail remarked by several participants, it might have been one of the rare occasions so far in history where the tourism panellists were men only, while the panel on transport included only women!

UIC has contributed to a book that was launched during the WCC3, entitled “Climate Sense” with an article on the Adapting Rail Infrastructure to Climate Change (ARISCC)-project.

About the World Climate Conference
The first two World Climate Conferences were revolutionary in their impacts. The First World Climate Conference in 1979 ultimately led to the establishment of the World Climate Programme, the World Climate Research Programme and the Nobel Peace Prize-winning IPCC — all endeavours that have raised awareness and scientific understanding of climate variability and change.

The Second World Climate Conference in 1990 added decisive momentum to global climate discussions, increasing political will and commitment to the issue through the establishment of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Global Climate Observing System.

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Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General on Climate Change
Mr Kofi Annan, President of the Global Humanitarian Forum, Mr Michel Jarraud
Mr Annan, Dr Brundtland and H.E. Mr Hans Rudolph Merz, President of Swiss Confederation
The panel on the session on the WCC 3 session “Climate, Transport and Tourism”
Read about the conference and its results at: www.wmo.int/wcc3/