Speaking engagements

Remarks at Institute of Excellence Hyderabad 4 Jan 2022

Brief introduction to the United Nations

It is important to understand the structure of United Nations

There are many organizations that are considered as part of the United Nations System

One of the main aspects of all UN organizations is their adherence to the United Nations Charter

The UN Charter mandates the UN and its member states to maintain international peace and security, uphold international law, achieve “higher standards of living” for their citizens, address “economic, social, health, and related problems”, and promote “universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.”

UN Principal Organs: General Assembly, Security Council, International Court of Justice, ECOSOC, Trusteeship Council

Funds and Programmes: UNHCR, UNDP, UNICEF, WFP, UNEP, etc

Specialized agencies: WHO, WB, ILO, ITU, UNESCO, etc 

Related agencies: WTO, IOM, IAEA, OPCW

Treaty-based organizations: UNFCCC, UNCCD, etc

Headquarters of the UN organizations/agencies: Mainly in New York, Geneva, Vienna, Nairobi, and some in Copenhagen, Bonn. 

Regional commissions: Addis Ababa, Bangkok, Beirut, Geneva, Santiago

UN Country Offices: in every country of the world 

There is a UN organization that is responsible for every major, critical and important aspect of global significance, covering humanitarian, social, peacebuilding, environment protection, development, human rights, international law, etc.

In each country of the world, UN is represented by various UN organizations (UN Country Team) based on the socio-political, humanitarian, peace and security considerations. 

Brief Introduction to United Nations Climate Change Secretariat 

UNFCCC – (Framework Convention on Climate Change adopted in 1992) is the main body that is responsible for addressing the issue of Climate Change.

UNFCCC has near universal membership with 197 parties (member states and entities like the EU) who meet once a year – referred to as the Conference of the Parties (COP) to negotiate elements of how to respond to the threat of climate change to the world at large.

UNFCCC secretariat was established (entered into force) in 1994 (27 years ago) – and has met every year (except in 2020 – due to covid pandemic). Brief chronology of COPs: COP1 was held in Berlin, COP3 was held in Kyoto/Japan (Kyoto Protocol), COP15 was held in Copenhagen (failed attempt to finalize a global agreement), COP21 was held in Paris (Paris Agreement), COP26 was held in Glasgow (Glasgow Climate Pact). COPs are held in different countries of the world, following a geographical rotation – next COP (COP27) will be held in Egypt.

The ultimate objective of all three agreements (the Convention, Kyoto Protocol & Paris Agreement) under the UNFCCC is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system, in a time frame which allows ecosystems to adapt naturally and enables sustainable development.

Main parts of the UN Climate Change Secretariat:

Programmes: Mitigation, Adaptation, Means of Implementation, Transparency

Operations: Administration, Conference Affairs, Legal Affairs

Cross-cutting: Communications & Engagement, Intergovernmental Support & Collective Progress

Brief introduction to UN Climate Change Secretariat programme areas:


As there is a direct relation between global average temperatures and the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the key for the solution to the climate change problem rests in decreasing the amount of emissions released into the atmosphere and in reducing the current concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) by enhancing sinks (e.g. increasing the area of forests).  Efforts to reduce emissions and enhance sinks are referred to as “mitigation”.

Adaptation & Means of Implementation

Adaptation commonly focuses on reducing vulnerability to the immediate and predicted impacts of climate change and increasing the capacity of countries and communities to be more resilient and to cope better, which means everything from better skills to more access to suitable finance to newer technology. Parties to the UNFCCC and its Paris Agreement recognize that adaptation is a global challenge faced by all with local, subnational, national, regional and international dimensions. It is a key component of the long-term global response to climate change to protect people, livelihoods and ecosystems.


To achieve the objective of the Convention, Parties need reliable, transparent and comprehensive information on GHG emissions, climate actions and support. Under the Convention, all Parties are obliged to communicate to the Conference of the Parties (COP) information relevant to the implementation of the Convention (Article 12). By communicating information on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and actions to reduce them, as well as on adaptation and means of implementation such as finance, technology transfer and capacity-building, the transparency and reporting system allows to understand ambition and progress on climate actions and support by Parties, – and informs the COP deliberation and guidance on these matters.

Brief Introduction to The Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement’s central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Additionally, the agreement aims to increase the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change, and at making finance flows consistent with a low GHG emissions and climate-resilient pathway. To reach these ambitious goals, appropriate mobilization and provision of financial resources, a new technology framework and enhanced capacity-building is to be put in place, thus supporting action by developing countries and the most vulnerable countries, in line with their own national objectives. The Agreement also provides for an enhanced transparency framework for action and support.

The Paris Agreement requires all Parties to put forward their best efforts through “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs) and to strengthen these efforts in the years ahead. This includes requirements that all Parties report regularly on their emissions and on their implementation efforts. There will also be a global stocktake every 5 years to assess the collective progress towards achieving the purpose of the agreement and to inform further individual actions by Parties.

Brief Introduction to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an intergovernmental body of the United Nations responsible for advancing knowledge on human-induced climate change. It was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). – Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. 

The IPCC provides objective and comprehensive scientific information on anthropogenic climate change, including the natural, political, and economic impacts and risks, and possible response options. It does not conduct original research nor monitor climate change, but rather undertakes a periodic, systematic review of all relevant published literature. Thousands of scientists and other experts volunteer to review the data and compile key findings into “Assessment Reports” for policymakers and the general public; this has been described as the biggest peer review process in the scientific community.

The IPCC is an internationally accepted authority on climate change, and its work is widely agreed upon by leading climate scientists as well as governments. Its reports play a key role in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), with the Fifth Assessment Report heavily informing the landmark Paris Agreement in 2015.

Impacts of Climate Change and Solutions

Warmer temperatures over time are changing weather patterns and disrupting the usual balance of nature. This poses many risks to human beings and all other forms of life on Earth.

Hotter temperatures

Nearly all land areas are seeing more hot days and heat waves; 2020 was one of the hottest years on record. Higher temperatures increase heat-related illnesses and can make it more difficult to work and move around. Wildfires start more easily and spread more rapidly when conditions are hotter.

More severe storms

Changes in temperature cause changes in rainfall. This results in more severe and frequent storms. They cause flooding and landslides, destroying homes and communities, and costing billions of dollars.

Increased drought

Water is becoming scarcer in more regions. Droughts can stir destructive sand and dust storms that can move billions of tons of sand across continents. Deserts are expanding, reducing land for growing food. Many people now face the threat of not having enough water on a regular basis.

A warming, rising ocean

The ocean soaks up most of the heat from global warming. This melts ice sheets and raises sea levels, threatening coastal and island communities. The ocean also absorbs carbon dioxide, keeping it from the atmosphere. More carbon dioxide makes the ocean more acidic, which endangers marine life.

Loss of species

Climate change poses risks to the survival of species on land and in the ocean. These risks increase as temperatures climb. Forest fires, extreme weather, and invasive pests and diseases are among many threats. Some species will be able to relocate and survive, but others will not.

Not enough food

Changes in climate and increases in extreme weather events are among the reasons behind a global rise in hunger and poor nutrition. Fisheries, crops, and livestock may be destroyed or become less productive. Heat stress can diminish water and grasslands for grazing.

More health risks

Changing weather patterns are spreading diseases such as malaria. Extreme weather events increase diseases and deaths and make it difficult for health care systems to keep up. Other risks to health include increased hunger and poor nutrition in places where people cannot grow or find sufficient food.

Poverty and displacement

Climate change increases the factors that put and keep people in poverty. Floods may sweep away urban slums, destroying homes and livelihoods. Heat can make it difficult to work in outdoor jobs. Weather-related disasters displace 2.3 crore people a year, leaving many more vulnerable to poverty.

Climate Change is a threat multiplier – linked to all the above impacts.

Measures and actions to prevent global warming and promote sustainable development


The sustainable development goals (SDGs) are a universal plan for all countries to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. They are a set of 17 goals which include 169 targets.

  • Stop using fossil fuels – coal, oil, petrol, gas
  • Reuse and recycle, change behaviors and habits
  • Plant trees, increase forestation
  • Transition to sources of renewable energy – wind, sun, hydropower
  • Join youth and other movements to demand urgent and responsible climate action by governments, civil society and private sector

End notes

  • The goal of Paris Agreement is to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by end of this century to avoid irreversible damage to the environment, our lives and livelihood. Unfortunately, given the current trajectory of global warming, the global temperature has already crossed 1 degree Celsius, and we are already seeing the impacts in every part of the world. If no immediate and transformative action is taken by every government and society of the world, we will see the rise of global warming happening much sooner, in fact, the prediction is that we may reach 1.5 degrees Celsius as early as 2030 or soon after, based on current estimates of greenhouse gas emissions.    
  • Urgent, radical and transformative action to limit the global warming by limiting the greenhouse gas emissions and significantly increasing the use of renewable energy and sustainable use of natural resources, including expanding forests is necessary. 
  • Everyone has a role to play and must do their part to stop the unprecedented climate change and implement measures to counter the impacts. It can be done when everyone, all governments, private sector and societies at large do their part. 
  • Keeping the Covid pandemic of recent times in mind, we need to understand that the larger, greater and longer-term threat to humanity is climate change that must be stopped before it is too late.
  • Education, understanding and factual communication about climate change in general, its impacts and the solutions is extremely important. Educational institutions such as Hyderabad Institute of Excellence are well placed to do this. I encourage all of you to make yourselves familiar with various aspects of climate change issues and take part in discussions, undertake formal education on environmental studies and seek the growing and expanding opportunities to work in the field of addressing the impacts of climate change.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *