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SG/T/3281
6 December 2019

Activities of Secretary-General in Spain, 30 November-3 December

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres arrived in Madrid on Saturday, 30 November, in the early evening.

Following his arrival, he met with the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Patricia Espinosa, and members of his climate team.

On Sunday, 1 December, he held a press conference at noon at the IFEMA Conference Centre, venue of the twenty-fifth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.  He told reporters that “for many decades the human species has been at war with the planet.  And the planet is fighting back.”  He added that science has provided us with a road map to end this war, and particularly on big emitters to step up their ambitions, adding that without their participation we will not be able to reach the goals set by the Paris Agreement.

He then met with Carolina Schmidt Zaldivar, Minister for Environment of Chile and President-Designate of the twenty-fifth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

He later took part in the closing session of the Conference of Youth organized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.  The conference was held at the Ciudad Universitaria de Madrid.  During his visit, the Secretary-General met with young climate activists and told them to keep up putting pressure on world leaders and he said they could count of his support.

Later, at his hotel, he met with Murat Kurum, Minister for Urbanization of Turkey.

He then had an interview with BBC Science Editor David Shukman.

Later in the afternoon, the Secretary-General met Lenín Moreno, President of Ecuador; and also with Ricardo Salles, Minister for Environment of Brazil.

On Monday, 2 December, the Secretary-General attended the first day of the United Nations Climate Change Conference.

He first spoke at the Climate Vulnerable Forum hosted by Hilda C. Heine, President of the Marshall Islands.  He said that “the great injustice of the climate crisis is that its effects fall most on those least responsible for it”, and reiterated his support for small island developing States and least developed countries to tackle climate change.  (See Press Release SG/SM/19886.)

This was followed by a meeting with Pedro Sánchez, Prime Minister of Spain.

He then delivered his remarks at the opening ceremony in which he urged world leaders to listen to the millions of people around the world — particularly young people — who are calling for them to do much more to tackle the climate crisis.  (See Press Release SG/SM/19887.)

“Open your ears to the multitudes who are demanding change.  Open your eyes to the imminent threat facing us all.  Open your minds to the unanimity of the science,” he said.

He also called on parties at the Conference to achieve progress on key items — namely, achieving success on Article Six and continuing to boost ambition in preparation for new and revised national climate action plans due in 2020.

This was followed by his intervention at the twenty-fifth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change general round table with Heads of State and Government, where he stressed that leaders must lead and not lag behind other sectors of society already taking climate action.  “My strong appeal to political leaders here today is please do lead, do not follow.  Because societies are moving, business communities are moving, local authorities are moving, the youth is moving.  It is for political leaders to be able to take profit of this movement and to lead for us to be able to defeat climate change.”  (See Press Release SG/SM/19888.)

That day, the Secretary-General also met with United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the 15 members of the United States Congressional Delegation present at the conference; with Franz Perrez, Ambassador for the Environment of the Swiss Confederation; Mauricio Macri, President of Argentina; and Carlos Alvarado Quesada, President of Costa Rica.

Also, that day, the Secretary-General attended the leaders’ luncheon, and he gave interviews to the Associated Press, and to Spanish television channel TVE.

He then had a joint press conference with the President of Spain, Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón.  In his remarks, he stressed that it is possible for countries to experience a sustainable and inclusive economic growth that takes into account people and the environment.  He also took the opportunity to thank Spain and Chile for their cooperation in putting the Conference together in Madrid in such a short period of time.

In the evening, the Secretary-General attended the twenty-fifth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change leaders cocktail reception hosted by the King and Queen of Spain at the Royal Palace.

On Tuesday, 3 December, the Secretary-General had an audience with Felipe VI, the King of Spain.

He departed for New York later in the afternoon, where he arrived in the early evening.

For information media. Not an official record.