The Queen of England addressed the United Nations General Assembly today, her first speech to the U.N. since 1957. Her brief statement was largely unremarkable but for the fact that she called out climate change, placing it on a par with terrorism in terms of today’s challenges.
In clear reference to the low-lying island nations and other countries that are bearing the immediate brunt of human-made global warming, she stated: “Another challenge is climate change, where careful account must be taken of the risks facing smaller, more vulnerable nations…”
The Queen began her remarks by surveying the many advances, particularly in science, technology and social attitudes, that have occurred since she last spoke at the U.N. 53 years ago. Ironically for a long-reigning monarch, the Queen pointed out the power of unified action by ordinary, organized people: “Remarkably, many of these sweeping advances have come about not because of governments, committee resolutions, or central directives – although all these have played a part – but instead because millions of people around the world have wanted them. For the United Nations, these subtle yet significant changes in people’s approach to leadership and power might have foreshadowed failure and demise. Instead, the United Nations has grown and prospered by responding and adapting to these shifts.”
By noting the power of the people and the strength that even the largest bureaucracy can gain by adapting to changing challenges, Queen Elizabeth made a great argument for a continuing the global efforts to combat and adapt to the ravages of climate change. It is heartening to think that monarchs and ambassadors are listening, sometimes, to our voices.
A Very Important Senior Citizen Addresses the UN
Photo: UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz