The climate deal reached in Copenhagen has been welcomed by UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon (photo, from bbc.co.uk) as an “essential beginning”.
This declaration followed a motion passed by delegates that recognises the agreement, which the US reached with key nations including China.
However Ban said the agreement must be made legally binding next year.
Amid opposition from some developing nations,the earlier meeting failed to secure unanimous support.
According to a group gathering several South American coutries like Nicaragua and Venezuela, the agreement has not been reached through proper process.
Mr Ban told journalists: “Finally, we sealed the deal.”
But he added: “We must transform this into a legally binding treaty next year.
“The importance will only be recognised when it’s codified into international law.”
In order to prevent the talks ending without reaching a final deal, delegates at the climate summit have been battling through the night.
A last-minute proposal called a “meaningful agreement” by US president Barack Obama, was earlier tabled by a US-led group of five nations, including China.
But it was rejected by a few developing nations that felt it failed to deliver the actions needed to halt dangerous climate change.
The majority of nations had been urging the Danish hosts to adopt the deal.
“The conference decides to take note of the Copenhagen Accord of December 18, 2009,” the chairman of the plenary session of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) declared on Saturday morning, swiftly banging down his gavel.
Now the deal needs to be endorsed by all 193 nations at the talks, in order to be accepted as an official UN agreement.
A last-minute agreement was reached on Friday evening by the US, China, India, Brazil and South Africa. The text concerns a number of issues, like a recognition to limit temperature rises to less than 2C (3.6F).
Yet, the draft proposals angered a number of developing nations.
According to BBC environment correspondent Richard Black, the language in this text showed 2C was not a formal target, just that the group “recognises the scientific view that” the temperature increase should be held below this figure.
The five-nation proposal had also promised to deliver $30bn of aid for developing nations over the next three years, and outlined a goal of providing $100bn a year by 2020 to help poor countries cope with the impacts of climate change.
A method for verifying industrialised nations’ reduction of emissions was also included in the agreement. The US had insisted that China dropped its resistance to this measure.
During the two-week gathering, small island nations and vulnerable coastal countries had been calling for a binding agreement that would limit emissions to a level that would prevent temperatures rising more than 1.5C (2.7F) above pre-industrial levels.
The main opposition to the five-nation accord had come from the ALBA bloc of Latin American countries to which Nicaragua and Venezuela belong, along with Cuba, Ecuador and Bolivia.
However the African Union and most of the small island developing states appeared to back the deal.