September 26, 2014 | By

UN Climate Summit: Bold Commitments and Call to Action


At the UN Climate Summit on September 23, 2014 in New York, global leaders came together to announce bold commitments and catalyze action on climate change in an effort to reduce emissions, strengthen climate resilience, and mobilize political will for a meaningful legal agreement in 2015.  In addition to the numerous pledges made by individual countries, the private sector and global cities both played a key role in the summit and made important pledges of their own.

President Obama announced new tools to strengthen global resilience to climate change, including:

  • Executive Order on Climate-Resilient International Development: Federal agencies will be required to systematically factor climate-resilience considerations into international development strategies, planning, programming, investments, and related funding decisions, including the planning for and management of overseas facilities.
  • Releasing Powerful New Data to Enable Planning for Resilience: High resolution global elevation data will be released to enable aid organizations, development banks, and decision-makers in developing countries to better map and plan for climate-driven challenges
  • Developing New Outlooks for Extreme-Weather Risk: A coordinated US effort, led by NOAA, will develop reliable extreme-weather risk outlooks on time horizons that are currently not available.
  • Equipping Meteorologists in Developing Nations with the Latest Tools and Knowledge: NOAA will significantly expand the reach of its highly successful international “Training Desk” program, which brings developing-country meteorologists to the United States for state-of-the-art training and education.
  • Launching a Public-Private Partnership on Climate Data and Information for Resilient Development: Creation of a new public-private partnership to ensure climate data and tools are useful to, and used by, decision-makers in developing countries.

Several multi-stakeholder intiatives launched, most notably the Global Alliance for Climate Smart AgricultureThe United States is joining the Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture as a founding member.  The Alliance is comprised of 16 countries and 37 organizations and was launched to enable 500 million farmers worldwide to practice climate-smart agriculture by 2030.

Other intiatives launched at the UN Climate Summit include the North American Climate Smart Agriculture Initiative and World Bank InitiativeThe Put a Price on Carbon Statement was signed by more than 1,000 companies and 73 countries in support of setting carbon price to shift to cleaner energy technologies, and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation will provide "Green Guaranties" to support climate-friendly investments.                                        

Pledges announced at the UN Climate Summit include:

  • United States: The US will meet its 17 percent emissions reduction target by 2020, compared to 2005 levels. The US will release a new target next year.
  • Global Cities: A coalition of urban networks launched the Compact of Mayors, the world’s largest effort to date for cities to accelerate reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for the impacts of climate change. They will empower cities — which account for 70 percent of the world’s energy-related emissions — to make public and deepen their commitments to GHG reductions, to reaffirm existing targets, and to report on their progress annually. 
  • Country Pledges:Many countries have made pledges and announced initiatives as part of the UN Climate Summit. 
  • Indonesia Palm Oil Pledge:  The CEOs of 40 companies, including Cargill, Kellogg, L’Oréal, Nestlé, Mondelez International, Asian Agri, and Wilmar, along with the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, among others, signed a pledge to cut the loss of forests in half by 2020 and end it in 2030.

Media coverage and commentary from the UN Climate Summit was extensive - in-depth coverage of the UN Climate Summit is featured in this week's edition of the Global Food for Thought News Brief.

Additional Information: 


The Global Food and Agriculture Program aims to inform the development of US policy on global agricultural development and food security by raising awareness and providing resources, information, and policy analysis to the US Administration, Congress, and interested experts and organizations.

The Global Food and Agriculture Program is housed within the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, an independent, nonpartisan organization that provides insight – and influences the public discourse – on critical global issues. The Council on Global Affairs convenes leading global voices and conducts independent research to bring clarity and offer solutions to challenges and opportunities across the globe. The Council is committed to engaging the public and raising global awareness of issues that transcend borders and transform how people, business, and governments engage the world.

Support for the Global Food and Agriculture Program is generously provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


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| By Roger Thurow

Our New Gordian Knot

Fifty years ago Dr. Norman Borlaug recieved the Nobel Peace Prize for cutting the "Goridan knot" of population and food production. Now the planet faces another seemingly intractable problem: how to nourish the planet while preserving the planet.