Ladies and Gentlemen, I am particularly impressed if I may say so to see such a high-powered list of people from the private, public and NGO sectors in this room today all working of course on vital matters to do with tropical forests and climate change, integrated reporting and the post-2015 sustainable development goals. You don't need me to tell you that the importance and urgency of the issues we seek to address require bold and decisive action from all sectors public and private alike.
Of course as you may have discussed, the devastating impact of Typhoon Haiyan in The Philippines should surely have been a poignant and telling reminder of the intimacy and interdependence of man's relationship with the natural world. Funnily enough when we were in India last week I visited the foothills of the Himalayas, a state called Uttarakhand, where they had the most devastating floods earlier in the year and the Chief Minister of that State bent my ear about the disaster and the problems they were having in trying to come to terms with what will probably likely to be even more extreme weather events. So all around the world we are faced increasingly with the complications caused by sometimes an inability to take the necessary action.
Because as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fifth Assessment Report so clearly tells us, the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events has increased, and is set further to increase, in many parts of the world, as a direct result of anthropogenic climate change. The facts and the science are clear and inescapable you would have thought, and so before us we have a rapidly narrowing window of opportunity as individuals, as governments, companies, nations, and as an international community to act with the scale and urgency needed to undertake the transition towards a radically more sustainable and resilient long-term global economic model.
One vital aspect of a global response to climate change will, I hope, entail international agreement coupled with decisive action to reduce emissions from tropical deforestation and degradation, or R.E.D.D. +. Three and a half years' on from the formation of the R.E.D.D.+ Partnership in Oslo, I am delighted to see the progress made by developing countries in decoupling deforestation from agricultural production, and the significant commitments made by many companies to reduce deforestation in their supply chains.
I am convinced that a global climate agreement in 2015, with provisions for significant international payments for emission reductions from forests and land use change at its heart, would enable all the good work done to date to be consolidated and strengthened. I know so many of you in this room today have done a huge amount already, and are doing an enormous amount as it is. So new and exciting partnerships to reduce tropical deforestation are continuing to be formed for instance I understand that later today the U.K. Government, with the U.S., Germany, the World Bank and others will make new announcements. But much more needs to be done, as you know better than I, to ensure that R.E.D.D.+ can make the critical contribution that it must.
As I have mentioned, the role of leadership and practical action from the private sector could not be more vital, and so I very much welcome today's opportunity to hear from CDP, Unilever, Marks and Spencer and others about the efforts undertaken by many companies to understand and reduce their forest footprint as part of their broader effort to 'measure what matters' and to ensure integrated reporting is at the heart of their operations. In this context, I have been heartened to hear of the work that Unilever and some of the world's largest palm oil companies are undertaking to move the industry further in the direction of trade and production free from deforestation and exploitation. In all these efforts, I can only congratulate the companies involved for what they have done to date, and hope they don't mind if I just exhort them and all others not yet as committed to do more to think about their impact in an integrated manner, and to sign up to further commitments. In the same vein, I would hope Governments will go further in their efforts to develop integrated reporting models to pursue the 'beyond G.D.P.' agenda at the national level.
For in parallel to the climate negotiations, Ladies and Gentlemen, the international community has another enormous challenge before it between now and 2015: to negotiate a new set of highly ambitious post-2015 sustainable development goals, capable both of 'finishing the unfinished business' of the Millennium Development Goals, whilst at the same time, equally critically, enabling humanity to live within planetary boundaries and in harmony with the natural environment upon which we so wholly depend.
Within the Sustainable Development Goals, a vital role for the private sector is envisaged: one in which a wide range of private sector actors from multinational corporations to small and medium enterprises; pension funds; banks; institutional investors; insurance companies; sovereign wealth funds can each play a role, through taking a long-term, responsible view in delivering and investing in low carbon development. Things like genuinely sustainable cities - not just the "business as usual" model and a coat of "green wash" - and resilient landscapes for people, forests and agriculture: in other words, the private sector's role in creating 'the world we wish to see'. But we can only do that, I would suggest, in proper consultation with local communities so that things are done with people, rather than to them. So I do hope the ideas shared in today's meeting will be helpful to companies and policymakers involved in these discussions, and I will much look forward to hearing what the Dutch Government's Ambassador for Private Sector and International Cooperation, Jeroen Roodenburg, will have to say on these matters before we close.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I can only conclude by saying once again how enormously grateful I am that you are here, there is no doubt that your collective, integrated influence and weight are crucial ingredients in delivering the kind of determined action that can transform seemingly endless discussions, debate and negotiation into the safe level resilient and more harmonious world we so urgently need for our children and grandchildren.