Opening Remarks by IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee 59th Session of the IPCC, 25-28 July 2023, Nairobi

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H.E. Minister Soipan Tuya,

UNEP Executive Director Ms. Inger Andersen,

WMO Secretary General Mr. Petteri Taalas,

Distinguished delegates, dear colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to the 59th Session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

I would like to thank our gracious and welcoming hosts – the United Nations Environment Programme and the Kenyan government for their hospitality and facilitation of this plenary.

It’s wonderful to be back in Nairobi.

It was here in Nairobi in April 2016 when the IPCC held its first session of the current cycle. It was the 43rd IPCC Session following the Session in Croatia, the 42nd Session where AR5 was completed with the election of the AR6 Bureau in Oct 2015.

The Panel in that first session in Nairobi decided on the entire program and schedule of AR6.

We didn’t realize at that time how demanding the task will be to carry out three special reports and one methodology reports up front in addition to the regular four reports.

And of course, no one imagined we will face a pandemic and global lockdown.

Holding a 59th session here to elect the next Bureau to complete the AR6 is like coming back home from a long journey that began seven years ago from here.

The journey began with an alarm bell sounding the dire financial situation of the AR6.

I still remember Decision 1 of the 43rd Session of the IPCC particularly paragraph 7 pointing out the decline in the IPCC Trust Fund and requesting the IPCC Chair and the Secretary to embark on a resource mobilization campaign.

There was a deficit of CHF 5 million when AR6 began.

We worked and thanks to our member governments, now there is a surplus of CHF 20 million.

AR7 can begin its work without any concern about funding.

The eight reports that were produced in the AR6 advanced the understanding of the relationship between science, climate change, and society.

The Gulbenkian Prize for Humanity, awarded to the IPCC in 2022, recognized the “IPCC’s role on the front line of tackling climate change by advancing many of the political and public actions and influencing the ways in which the political agenda approaches the question of combatting the climate crisis”. The Gulbenkian Prize for Humanity recognized the IPCC as “representing the best in this field all around the world”.

It is, therefore, no exaggeration to say that IPCC´s relevance and authority have reached levels never seen before.

But it is also time for reflection, time to be humble, and to let history judge the AR6.

In this cycle, we have increased the participation of female scientists. We have achieved progress in bringing on board more scientists from developing nations. And this cycle improved the understanding of the importance of Indigenous Knowledge and Local Knowledge.

But we can do more. I am sure the AR7 will keep the momentum.

Excellencies, distinguished delegates and dear friends,

As we start the last session of the AR6, I would like to acknowledge that the sixth assessment cycle has been a tremendous collective achievement and offer my admiration for the Panel´s commitment and tireless work.

I am deeply thankful to you our member governments for your trust and guidance throughout the cycle.

I am grateful to my colleagues at the AR6 Bureau and the Technical Support Units for the great journey we had together over the last seven years.

But above all, I would like to express my deepest appreciation for the extraordinary contribution of all IPCC authors, always going the extra mile and sparing no effort. Their commitments have been exemplary.

I also express my sincere appreciation to the IPCC Secretariat for the extraordinary support for the IPCC work under the superb leadership of the Secretary, Dr. Abdalah Mokssit.

And we are grateful to our two sponsoring organisations, WMO and UNEP, and the UNFCCC for their steadfast support.

As delegations prepare to cast their votes for the next Bureau, I am confident that the new Bureau of your choice will raise the bar of IPCC´s work even higher.

With this, I declare the 59th Session of the IPCC open. Thank you.