Your Excellency President Van der Bellen,
Your Excellency President Pahor
Your Excelleny President Vučić,
Your Excellency President Thaci,
Your Excellency President Fischler,
Your Excellency Commissioner Hahn,
Your Excellency Minister Kneissl,
Your Excellency Minister Köstinger,
Dear Global Citizens,
Gruess Gott! Good Afternoon!
I am pleased to join you today on the occasion of the opening of the Political Symposium of the European Forum Alpbach 2018.
This year marks the third time I have had the pleasure to be part of the vibrant and truly global atmosphere which everyone can experience year after year in Alpbach. In fact, this should be my 4th time, had I not cancelled my participation in 2013 because of the Syrian Crisis. Now, I am here to pay my overdue
Today, the values of mutual understanding and tolerance – so deeply embedded in the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – celebrating its 70th Anniversary this Year – are facing profound tests around the world.
Diversity in the form of an open and inclusive society continues to be challenged by walls, closed doors, prejudice and fear. People are targeted because of their origins, culture, faiths and traditions.
Today, too many decision makers and politicians use cynical math and biased messaging to steer fear.
In times of fear and growing hate and discrimination towards people of different beliefs, nationalities, and sexual orientations, promoting tolerance through diversity and resilience should be of fundamental importance for decision-makers worldwide.
Therefore, resilient and thus more inclusive and diverse societies that can draw on the ideas, creative energy and talents of each of their members, are profoundly encouraged by tolerance, acting as a lever for sustainable development.
Already as Secretary-General of the United Nations I underlined that the Sustainable Development Goals are our only chance to put our planet on the right path. We do not have a Plan B or a Planet B – we only have one world and one plan. The SDGs are the people’s agenda, a plan of action for putting social conflicts to a rest, for reaching equality in all its dimensions, irreversibly, globally.
The SDGs and the Paris Climate agreement need to be our guiding principles to leave no one behind. We owe this to the billions of children, women and men who, through their courage, vitality, dreams and engagement help make our global society a more prosperous, resilient and diverse one.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I have special ties to Austria. As many of you know I have opened a small humble Centre for Global Citizens in Vienna in January this year and I am leading it together with my dear friend, Heinz Fischer. Thanks to you, President Van der Bellen, Chancellor Kurz and the whole Austrian government and many others who supported us on this journey so far.
Since the beginning of this year, we have worked to build the Cente up. It is still a small start- up enterprise. We created it to help to continue to address some of the challenges the world faces today. The Centre is just a small contribution to the worldwide ongoing efforts and we are still in the process of raising adequate funding for putting our plans into practice. We cannot do this alone, so we need all your help.
Let us act as Global Citizens. Let us look beyond national borders and empower each other to thrive in a peaceful and prosperous world. For the first time in history we can end poverty, for the first time in history we are all interconnected and have the knowledge of humankind at our fingertips. We have more tools at hand than ever before. Particularly the young need to be given the right opportunities to build “their tomorrow.”
Let us therefore see the world and all its possibilities through the prism of “we the people” and let us – at the same time – reject the failed mindset of “us” versus “them.”
We are all in this together.
I believe in a world of justice and peace for all. A world where girls can grow up free of fear of abuse. A world where human rights are respected, and women are treated with the respect and dignity. A world where poverty is eradicated. A world where economic growth and sustainable development are not mutually contradictory. A world where young people have a voice and a chance for a prosperous tomorrow.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As the leaders of tomorrow, I urge you all to remain engaged, not only during this year’s European Forum Alpbach, but also beyond: You have the passion and energy and commitment to make a difference. Exchange experiences and lessons learned and encourage each other to go faster and further. Have a global vision. Go beyond your country; go beyond your national boundaries and act as a truly Global Citizen.
We can build this world – together – to leave no one behind.