Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said here Tuesday that industrialized countries must take the lead in dealing with the threat of climate change.
"Looking at global emissions from a per capita perspective, it is obvious that the richest countries must take the lead," Annan told the first annual meeting of his new humanitarian forum.
"We must have climate justice," Annan said. "We must recognize that the polluters must pay, not the poor and vulnerable."
Annan created the Global Humanitarian Forum after his retirement from the top UN post at the end of 2006.
The two-day meeting focuses on the humanitarian threat of climate change. It brings together senior government officials, leaders of international agencies, CEOs of major corporations as well as global financiers.
Annan stressed that the world should measure and weigh the impact of climate change not just in scientific terms, but by its social, economic and humanitarian implications.
"From jobs to health to food security and peace ... we must consider it the single most destructive force actively confronting humankind today," Annan said.
He said the poor and vulnerable are already paying a high price for the effects of climate change, which is mainly caused by rising greenhouse emissions.
"It is the industrialized and wealthier nations who must take responsibility for rising greenhouse emissions ... And they have an obligation to help and enable developing countries to 'grow green', " he said.
According to Annan, the world must focus on adaptation when it tackles climate change.
"This means empowering communities everywhere so that they have the knowledge and the tools available to prepare for the worst effects of climate change, not after its effects have already taken grip, but well before," he said.
He called on rich countries to act immediately to provide vulnerable communities with additional funding and appropriate technical assistance.