22.04.2016

Speech by President of the Republic of Serbia Tomislav Nikolic at the Paris Agreement Signing Ceremony

President Hollande, 

Mr. Secretary General, 

Fellow Delegates, 

Excellences, 

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

 

First let me thank President Hollande and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for their dedicated work and organization of the signing ceremony for the Paris Agreement. 

We are aware of the great responsibility resting upon our generation, which in this world of growing global interdependence needs to address global challenges in a coordinated effort. In this context, climate change is no exception. I do believe that the Paris Agreement is one of the vital steps in the development of modern civilization, and yet another incentive to multilateralism and closer international ties. 

Scientists agree that the average global temperature will rise a few degrees Celsius by the end of the 21st century. The severity of natural disasters will grow, as their frequency depends directly on the intensity of global warming. Not a single state, the size and economic growth notwithstanding, is immune to the whims of nature, which we “don’t inherit from our ancestors, but borrow from our children.”

The challenges of global climate change require a comprehensive action, based on tangible global, regional and local operations. This is why we are committed to cooperation, dialogue and specific measures at all levels. Only a joint effort can mitigate the consequences. 

In a bid to land a helping hand, Serbia is prepared to contribute to a solution, having experienced the devastation of severe flooding twice.

It is a great honor for me to sign the Paris Agreement on behalf of the Republic of Serbia, on the International Mother Earth Day. It goes without saying that the signing of the Agreement is just the first step on a long and painful journey of its implementation, but I am confident that unanimity and understanding will facilitate the materialization of what has been achieved. 

Serbia has been, and will always remain, a serious and active member of the team, hoping that science will offer clarity and politics the best and most effective solutions. This is just one of the reasons why Serbia has taken the necessary steps at home to contribute to the goals of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It is important to note that Serbia was one of the first ten states to have submitted an Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), in June 2015.

Serbia’s INDC was created in collaboration with all relevant segments of the society, based on its own potentials and specific features, and the National Sustainable Development Strategy. It’s indeed impossible to address climate change outside the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, given the evident interdependence. If global warming continues unchecked, leading to droughts and desertification, typhoons and devastating floods – the tragic consequences of the latest Serbia experienced itself – it will be very difficult to eradicate famine and poverty, ensure full employment, the development of infrastructure and access to safe drinking water for all. In this context, Serbia is doing everything to raise awareness, educate and expand the capacity of local public, local self-governments in particular, to accelerate the necessary process. 

Dear Friends, 

The consequences of climate change will only add to the tensions caused by stark inequalities across the world. In all fairness, imposing any limitations will have the strongest impact on the weakest – those who are yet to get their industry off the ground and improve the lives of their citizens. They need to be given an opportunity to grow. 

We, the politicians, have to offer full support to research on the one hand, and a harmonized, coordinated response to climate change and extreme weather on the other. It is our first and foremost duty to plan and adjust the activities of the state and society to every possible scenario, including the worst of all possible cases. 

I wish to note that Serbia has defined the steps to implement the Paris Agreement very precisely and in great detail, fully aware of all the challenges, but prepared to rise to the occasion. 

Based on a national strategy to combat climate change, the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution will be reviewed by 2019, and Serbia is working to set up a viable monitoring, reporting and verification system until then. 

Serbia has also laid the groundwork for a national adaptation plan to define the costs and priorities in this area. We believe that only together can we eliminate the threats and difficulties that exceed our financial, technical and technological capacity.

Moreover, the Government of the Republic of Serbia established the National Council on Climate Change, not only monitoring the status, development and implementation of the national policy, but also suggesting steps to coordinate and enhance the agenda.

Excellences, 

Serbia will continue to be as credible a partner as it has always been in playing an active role in the U.N. efforts, and all other international, European and regional initiatives to address the impacts of global climate change.

I am confident that the Agreement we are signing today is a vital step to ending global warming, the process that has already assumed frightening proportions. By signing the Paris Agreement we are defining the future of the planet, demonstrating responsibility and readiness to take the necessary steps. 

Nature has never deceived itself, but we tend to be in denial. Let’s be honest, if for no other reason, then for our children; let’s build self-respect by respecting the planet we harmed so seriously, and the earth, much cleaner and healthier when given to us to take care of…

Thank you!