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Twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21)

and the eleventh session of the Conference of the Parties

serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 11)

Paris, 7 December 2015


Opening address at the high-level segment by
Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change



Honourable Prime Ministers,

H.E. Mr. Mogens Lykketoft, President of the United Nations General Assembly,

H.E. Mr. BAN Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations,

H.E. Mr. Laurent Fabius, President of COP 21/CMP 11,

Dr. Hoesung Lee, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,


Distinguished delegates,

Ladies and gentlemen,


Bonjour et bienvenue au segment de haut niveau. Welcome to the high-level segment of COP 21 and CMP 11.

We gather here in Paris against a backdrop of unprecedented mobilization towards our common cause. The stars have truly aligned for us. Commitments have been turned into real action on the part of investors, corporations, provincial and city governments, and from civil society as a whole. 

And of course, as you know, we opened COP 21 with the largest ever gathering of Heads of State and Government. Their political guidance, together with the remarkable scale of nationally determined contributions, constitutes a clarion call to the world.  The challenge we now face is to crystalize that call into a comprehensive legal framework that brings the world together in action and implementation.

The documents you have before you represent the very hard work of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform. I am grateful to all delegates, chairs and facilitators for their tireless labour that has brought us all the way from Durban to Paris. But the task is not done.

Today I welcome the arrival of Ministers and other Heads of Delegation. It is now up to you to assemble the results of the ADP and apply your political leadership towards final clarity for the text.

It is now up to you to exercise your political stewardship to ensure we give to the world a global agreement that is a catalyst for meeting national and local needs and lives up to the scientific imperatives of environmental integrity.

It is now up to you to deliver an agreement that safeguards the most vulnerable and unleashes the full force of human ingenuity toward prosperity for all, as the centrepiece for a sustainable future.

In agreeing a long-term vision for growth that supports the needs of all and is in harmony with nature, you will send the strong signal that ensures that the mobilization achieved to date will not dissipate, but will in fact accelerate.

Dear friends, the opportunity to rise to the call of history is not given to everyone, or every day. History has chosen you, here, now.

I am often asked what keeps me up at night. Here is what keeps me up. I see seven sets of eyes of seven generations beyond me asking me, “What did you do? What did you do?” The same question will be asked of each of you.

May we all be able to stand tall and clearly say, “We did everything that was necessary.”

Je vous remercie.


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