I was lucky to be invited to see UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon give a keynote speech at the Royal Geographical Society in London today, hosted by UK's UN Assocation (photo above is courtesy of UNA-UK/Marcus Dawes). It turns out that it's his 64th birthday and, despite trying to keep it under wraps, both the Queen and Gordon Brown sent him messages. And we gave him a nice round of applause.
His message to us all comprised a list of the four biggest issues facing the UN. Believe it or not, at the top (above global health, terrorism and WMD) he rates climate change. He called it his "number one priority."
He said: "Our climate is changing fast and the world has been too slow in dealing with the challenges... The cost of inaction is far, far greater than the cost of action."
He also reminded everyone that the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shared the Nobel Peace Prize last year. Could anyone have imagined, post 9/11, that this would now be the UN's biggest concern? Probably not, but it does prove that global security rests on dealing with climate change powerfully, with at least as much commitment as we deal with terrorism and proliferation.