When U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon finally arrived at the conference center in Tikipaya 30minutes behind schedule, he was still greeted like a rock star.
To cheers of “Ban Ki’ Ban Ki” it was not a typical welcome the U.N.’s secretary-general is probably used to.
So why such a rapturous welcome for the U.N. leader?
Delegates at the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Defense of Life include some of the world’s poorest people. They are facing the challenges of extreme weather events and climate change head-on.
Their livelihoods are being affected, their homes washed away, their mountains left without snow. And they are looking to Ban and other world leaders to listen to their pleas and help them save the planet.
The secretary-general addressed their concerns.
“Climate change is upon us. Here in Cochabamba you know this well,” he said. “Your mountain Tunari used to be capped with snow all year round. Nowadays, it has snow only a few weeks a year.”
The aim of this conference is to give people affected by climate change a say on how future environmental policy will be shaped. Social movements and representatives from more than 40 countries are in Bolivia determined to have their say.
Activists and ordinary people are everywhere, huddled in groups, meeting wherever they can to come up with practical solutions and real plans to address this climate “crisis.”
‘’Droughts. Fires. Floods. Landslides. Glaciers melting. Oceans turning to acid. Mother Earth is giving us a warning,” Ban told the conference on Saturday. “We must listen. And we must act.’’
The focus is slowly turning to the next big U.N. climate change conference in Paris, which begins late November.
The personal stories, proposals and practical solutions that emerge from Cochabamba will be submitted for consideration at that event.
Noting that “a transformative deal in Paris” was in sight, the U.N. leader concluded by saying that developed countries must meet their pledge of US$100 billion a year to fight climate change by 2020.
Before Ban left, President Morales presented the secretary-general with a 10-point plan to defend mother earth to be discussed at the U.N. Paris summit.
One of the Bolivian proposals is to create an Environmental International Court of Justice "to make it easier for countries to fulfill their international commitments to climate change.’’
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa are also due to attend the final stages of the conference, which concludes on Monday.