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G20 leaders urged to invest in “green” economy

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(eTN) – In what the United Nations calls a “continued push to keep the poorest and most vulnerable at the forefront of international discussions,” Ban Ki-moon, UN’s secretary general, over the w

(eTN) – In what the United Nations calls a “continued push to keep the poorest and most vulnerable at the forefront of international discussions,” Ban Ki-moon, UN’s secretary general, over the weekend urged leaders of the Group of 20 (G20) to scale up investment in clean energy and green economy as part of the effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

“The risks — and costs — of inaction on climate change grow each year. The more we delay, the more we will pay,” he told leaders of the G20 industrialized and developing economies at a working luncheon Sunday in Toronto, Canada.

Mr. Ban has reportedly been participating in the two-day meeting to “try to keep the world leaders’ focus on promotion of development in poor countries, despite the global economic slowdown.”

In his speech, Mr. Ban urged the G20 members to publicly recognize the progress made last December at the UN climate change talks in Copenhagen, Denmark, and to move forward within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) “to achieve a meaningful, realistic result” at the summit to be hosted later this year in Cancun by Mexican President Felipe Calderon.

He also urged governments to make concrete progress towards realizing the pledge made in Copenhagen for industrialized countries to deliver $100 billion per year in aid to developing countries for mitigating climate change.

Mr. Ban selected members of a “high-level advisory group on climate change finance” in February to mobilize the promised finance.

On Sunday, he urged progress on funds to be matched by credible action on mitigation, along with accountability and transparency.

According to the UN, Mr. Ban met with president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, and with the president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, on the margins of the G20 discussions.

He said he was encouraged by the commitment of support for the MDGs, including the role of overseas development aid, but stressed that greater investment must be made if the eight goals for reducing extreme poverty and hunger, improving health and education, empowering women and ensuring environmental sustainability, are to be achieved by 2015.

The discussions this weekend have been building on the three previous G20 summits held in Washington, London and Pittsburg since the global economy downturned in 2008, the UN said.

Mr. Ban has been pushing world leaders to keep the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable around the world on their agendas, as national economic priorities have become the focus.

To that end, the UN secretary general is convening a high-level summit at the UN Headquarters in New York in September to press countries to accelerate efforts to try to achieve the MDGs.

A Millennium Development Goals Advocacy Group was established last week to build political will and mobilize global action ahead of the MDG summit.