From March 26 to 29, 2019, the Austrian Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen was in New York City for the United Nation’s High-Level Meeting on “Climate and Sustainable Development for All.” Climate policy has long been a personal interest of the former leader of the Austrian Green Party; therefore, President Van der Bellen took this opportunity to make a forceful plea for action: “Anyone who would argue that these fundamental changes to our planet’s climate are not inflicted by mankind is turning a blind eye to science and to scientific evidence.” Read his full UN speech here.
The Federal President held a bilateral meeting with UN Secretary General António Guterres and also extended an invitation to attend this year’s R20 Austrian World Summit, which will be held on May 28 in Vienna and feature international climate advocates like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Greta Thunberg.
At the United Nations, the Austrian Federal President met with María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of the 73rd session of the General Assembly. He also spoke with Frank Bainimarama, Prime Minister of Fiji and COP23 President, with Luis Alfonso de Alba, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the 2019 Climate Action Summit, and with Javier Manzanares, acting Executive Director of the Green Climate Fund. The Austrian Federal President furthermore met with counterparts from neighboring countries, President János Áder of Hungary and President Borut Pahor of Slovenia.
At the Climate Museum, the first museum in the U.S. dedicated to climate change, President Van der Bellen had an inspiring discussion with the museum’s youth advisory council members. The museum’s spoken word program Climate Speaks gives all metro NYC high school students the opportunity to engage and take action on climate change.
Besides, the Austrian President visited The New York Times for an exchange of views with members of the Editorial Board as well as with its publisher Arthur Gregg Sulzberger, and stopped by the newsroom of Bloomberg, where he met with Michael Bloomberg, the former three-term mayor of New York City.
All photos (c) Peter Lechner, Office of the Federal President of Austria