World leaders and wealthy nations are urged to create a global fund to fight the impacts of climate change, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Monday.
Speaking at the Climate Vulnerable Forum in Dhaka, Bangladesh - designed to stimulate the conversation on how poor countries can overcome climate-related damage - Ban said governments must now find ways to provide financial and technological support to the developing world.
"The funds need to be launched in Durban. An empty shell cannot be an answer," he said.
The forum was held ahead of the U.N. climate conference (COP17) scheduled to begin Nov. 28 in Durban, South Africa where a "Green Climate Fund" will be negotiated.
Ban commended countries such as the Maldives, Costa Rica and Samoa for committing to be carbon neutral, even though they are some of the most climate vulnerable countries in the world.
He said countries most affected by the impacts of climate change should be an "inspiration" to wealthy nations on how to reduce their emissions.
"Climate impacts will be with us for decades to come... adaptation must be a priority for all countries but especially the most vulnerable countries."
Ban also praised low-lying and poverty-stricken Bangladesh for becoming a "world leader in disaster preparedness" and commended the country for taking the lead to follow a pro-development and low carbon tax.
However, he said it was unfair to "ask the poorest and most vulnerable to bear the brunt of the impact of climate change alone" and called for a collective agreement and release of funds to help developing countries adapt to global warming.
Even though delegates and officials represented different countries, Ban said the "challenges we face are common." "We have to save this planet and save human lives," he said.
Dubbing climate change as "the single most important challenge" we face today, Ban emphasised our collective responsibility to unite in tackling this challenge.
He said governments now need to work together to advance a world program to respond to the needs of countries particularly affected by extreme climate events.
Ban said countries need to address these issues in a sustainable and comprehensive way.
"We are in the middle of a serious economic crisis but even in these difficult times, we cannot afford to delay," Ban said. "Durban must complete what was agreed last year in Cancun."