Ban Ki-moon – Speech to UN Security Council

Speech to UN Security Council
Ban Ki-moon
Wednesday, 12 June 2019
New York, US

Mr. President,
Mr. Secretary-General,
Distinguished Members of the Security Council,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me begin by echoing the words of my esteemed colleague, the Chair of The Elders, Mary Robinson, and thank you for the opportunity to address this august gathering.

As a former Secretary-General of the United Nations I have the utmost respect for the institution of the Security Council and the principles and values it is designed to uphold.

When the Council can cooperate and speak with a strong common voice, its decisions can have a decisive impact.

This strong, common voice is needed more than ever at this current time, when the deceptive allure of populism and isolationism is growing across all continents, from North and South America to Africa, Asia and Europe.

Faced with complex, multi-faceted and gravely serious challenges from nuclear proliferation to climate change and a radical transformation of our economic and social paradigms, it is perhaps understandable that many people from everyday walks of life feel overwhelmed and seek solace in simplified narratives of a bygone “golden age” when they had a sense of being in control of their individual and national destinies.

What is profoundly irresponsible, however, is for politicians – especially but not exclusively in democratic societies – to collude in or deliberately stoke these illusions for their own aims of securing and sustaining power, in full knowledge that no one country, however powerful, will be able to meet these global challenges on its own.

Mr. President,

This is why I believe it is absolutely essential for global peace and security that the member states of the United Nations, and especially those who have the honour of serving as members of the Security Council, understand and meet their responsibilities under the UN Charter and act in the service of all humanity rather than the narrow fields of national, ideological or sectarian interests.

The Council needs to be bold and assert its collective voice to meet common challenges, heeding the words of my illustrious predecessor as Secretary-General, Dag Hammarskjöld:

“It is when we all play safe that we create a world of utmost insecurity. It is when we all play safe that fatality will lead us to our doom. It is in the ‘dark shade of courage’ alone that the spell can be broken.”

The Council has always been intended as a forum for collective engagement in the broader interests of peace and security, as well as an opportunity for member states to reflect their capital’s perspective on the issue under discussion.

In the humble view of The Elders, based on our substantial collective experience of working for and within the international system, the decision-making processes of the Council could be improved to encourage Council members agree on a joint common position to address conflicts in their early stages.

The Council should explore ways to be more efficient and effective, and to assert its collective voice through timely and strong statements. It needs to speak for and to the whole of the United Nations, rather than being constrained by the respective agendas and priorities in national capitals of its member states.

Mr. President,

Building on the remarks of President Robinson, I would like to highlight three more areas where I feel the Council can show effective leadership to support the work of the Secretary-General and improve general conditions for peace and conflict resolution:

1. The importance of prevention

The Secretary-General’s emphasis on the priority to be given to prevention is very welcome, and member states must ensure that UN prevention and peacebuilding work is properly supported and funded.

Council members should do more to support the Secretary-General in using his “good offices” to help prevent and reduce the threat of conflict. Council members should also recognise that the Council’s work on peace and security is undermined when its members undermine the UN’s own peace envoys and peace processes. The human cost of these machinations is all too painful to see, with Libya and Yemen standing out as just two grim examples.

2. Regional institutions

Strong multilateral regional institutions are essential for the maintenance of peace and security, both as forums for dialogue and as mechanisms for economic and political cooperation between states.

Positive examples include the European Union and OSCE.

By contrast, the absence of dialogue between states or of inclusive forums for dialogue in the Middle East is one of the reasons for the persistence and recurrence of conflict there.

I would like to take this opportunity to commend our host, the State of Kuwait, for its persistent commitment to and support for the values that have historically underpinned the Gulf Cooperation Council.

I would urge all other members of the GCC to act in the same spirit to restore this body to its vital role as a guarantor of regional stability, governed by mutual respect for national sovereignty and a shared understanding of common challenges.

The role of regional organisations in preventing and resolving conflict should be strengthened, not only in the Middle East but across the wider world. Greater coordination between the UN Security Council and regional organisations would also be beneficial.

3. Nuclear threat

The risks of nuclear conflict are higher than they have been in several decades.

As Mary Robinson so rightly said, nuclear weapons and climate change pose two of the most severe existential threats to life on Earth as we know it.

When it comes to nuclear non-proliferation, the international community is confronted with two serious challenges, namely the Iranian nuclear development programmes and securing the complete denuclearisation of North Korea.

Regarding the Iranian nuclear issue, I am deeply concerned by the US decision to withdraw from the JCPOA because it not only weakens the regional stability of the Middle East, but also sends the wrong signal to ongoing negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear issues.

Unfortunately, the negotiations between the US and North Korea have come to a deadlock since the failure of the Hanoi summit last February.

I support the US government’s efforts to realise the complete denuclearisation of North Korea. In this context, we should maintain and faithfully comply with the sanction measures imposed by the Council on North Korea. I sincerely hope that all the Member States of the UN faithfully implement the sanction measures.

On the other hand, according to the FAO and WFP, actual food shortages in North Korea might reach around 1.5 million tons.

Considering the fact that North Korea has suffered chronic food shortages during the last two decades, the situation seems to be worsening without support from the international community.

In view of this, the government of the Republic of Korea has announced that it would contribute 8 million US dollars to the United Nations agencies to help North Korea address the current humanitarian situations.

I sincerely hope that the currently deadlocked negotiations will resume among the parties concerned as soon as possible.

But beyond these two regional issues, there is also the very real risk that the whole architecture of arms control and nuclear non-proliferation that was built up during the decades of superpower confrontation may collapse, through a combination of neglect, hubris and ill-founded threat analysis.

This issue goes to the very heart of the Security Council. Its permanent members are all nuclear-armed states, and they thus possess a uniquely heavy responsibility to develop effective processes of non-proliferation and disarmament.

Yet the failure of the P5 to make progress on their disarmament commitments under Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty risks undermining the NPT, which has been a highly effective multilateral mechanism for preventing proliferation.

It is in the interests of the P5 to get serious about disarmament if they wish to maintain the near-universal international commitment to preventing nuclear proliferation, particularly in the lead up to next year’s NPT Review Conference.

The consequences of failure do not bear contemplation.

Mr. President,

I hope that in our contributions, The Elders have highlighted opportunities for progress as well as challenges to be overcome. We look forward now to a stimulating interactive discussion with the Council members, and thank you again for the privilege to take part in this debate.

Thank you.

“Towards Global Peace:

Strengthening Youth’s Involvement in the Global Nuclear Dialogue”

Keynote Speech by Dr. Heinz Fischer

Address

It is an honour to speak here today about the important topic of youth’s involvement in the global nuclear dialogue.

CTBTO, as you sure all know, works towards preventing the usage and further development of nuclear weapons through binding agreements and is thus working towards sustainable peace. I am proud that their headquarter is located in Vienna and happy that the Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo is here with us today. The Vienna office was founded in 1996 and counts more than 260 staff form over 70 countries.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you, Executive Secretary Zerbo, on your excellent work, professionalism and dedication for more than 5 years. Mister Zerbo is a key player in forwarding the CTBT efforts and was responsible for creating the CTBTO Youth Group.

Ever since the existence of humans on this planet, war was part of our history and shaped our history. There have never been long periods of time that war did not interrupt.

The second World War was one of the most devastating wars humanity has ever experienced – counting globally 80 near to million victims.

World War II, at its end in 1945, was the first and last war that saw the actual use of nuclear weapons – we all remember, or heard, or read, about Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I think I do not need to mention, that the use of nuclear weapons results in an enormous number of casualties and in an unimaginable catastrophe.

So, as of 1945, a new chapter of history was born, the period of nuclear proliferation and the danger of nuclear war.

On the one hand, and here I am referring to Henry Kissinger’s argument, nuclear weapons could contribute to stability on a regional and global level, because nobody wants to carry the responsibility of actually using them. I want to mention the example of the so-called Cold War, where the two big powers, the Soviet Union and the United States, were in a constant nuclear arms race. But they have not been used against each other. The costs and risks of nuclear weapons are so high that it establishes the fear of mutual destruction.

On the other hand, we have no guarantee that this calculation is functioning in every possible situation. Nuclear weapons are the most destructive weapons on our planet and are becoming more and more sophisticated and dangerous. The only logical action should be to decrease, in the best-case scenario fully abolish, the development of nuclear weapons.

9 countries are currently in possession of atomic weapons – The US, Russia, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Pakistan, India, Israel and North Korea. Each of these countries holds a very powerful tool and with this probably also the biggest responsibility in the world.

The security and nuclear dialogue amongst the international community has recently increased, with one of the reasons being the withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal by the United States under President Trump one year ago. This could have very dangerous consequences.

Another reason is the unsolved situation and ongoing tensions between North and South Korea and the unpredictable policy of President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

I personally think that everyone has the responsibility to contribute to a peaceful world without nuclear weapons. Women and youth play a particularly important role in the fight against war and against nuclear weapons.

I remember in 1953, when I was at the age of 15, we were discussing topics of peace and war and nuclear weapons at an international youth conference on peace and disarmament in Vienna. Some of my close friends, who were influenced by that period, later became high-level politicians in Europe.

When I look back at the youth movements of my time, I truly believe that young activists had a great influence on political actions against the Vietnam War, on the Peace Movement in the 70s, as well as on the negotiations about disarmament treaties in the Gorbatschow Era.

It would be wrong to think that these movements are not important anymore today. On the contrary! The fact is that the classical confrontation between the East and the West is behind us, but instead we experience many different violent regional conflicts, tensions and threats, so, I see youth involvement more important than ever!

Modern technology is supporting these movements by delivering different ideas and messages at high speed across the globe and connecting youth with similar interests. Social networks make coalition building easier. But also, conferences like this one today bring youth together to share ideas about how we can make peace sustainable.

 

Today we are discussing youth involvement in the global nuclear dialogue. Looking at a broader picture, it is however not only about nuclear weapons. Recent trends show that the world spent 1.7 trillion dollars last year on militaries and weapons in general. It is only normal that youth steps in and claims how much of this money could have been used for education, economic development and even for the implementation of the Agenda 2030.

Citing from the 2017 Youth and Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament Negotiations in New York: “The maintenance and modernization of nuclear arsenals has a long-term impact on youth by diverting funding from activities that could make our future better to one that poses a real and concrete threat to humanity.”

As already mentioned above, nuclear threats are also highly linked to the 2015 UN Sustainable Development Goals, in which youth is greatly involved as well. First, and this is the most obvious connection, nuclear weapons disrupt peace and justice (SDG16).

Second, tensions occurring from the development of new nuclear weapons and its testing, could be turned into cooperation from joint verification of nuclear disarmament agreements. This could in turn lead to stronger partnerships in the implementation of the Agenda 2030 and give weight to SDG 17.

A third and crucial connection between nuclear disarmament and the SDGs is the impact of atomic weapons on our environment (SDG13, 14 and 15). The use of nuclear weapons would create such a catastrophic human and environmental consequences that achieving the SDGs would be out of reach.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Having said all this, I want to thank everyone for participating in nuclear dialogues and making it inclusive by incorporating more and more women and youth.

I can tell you from my side that one of Austria´s top foreign policy priority is the achievement of a nuclear weapon free world. The construction of the Equipment Maintenance and Storage Facility (ESMF) in Seibersdorf near Vienna has further strengthened the link between CTBTO and Austria.

I hope that other countries will also soon acknowledge that (and here I quote) “the world is over-armed and peace is under-funded”.

Thank you.

Asia towards resilient peace
(Jeju Peace Forum 30th May 2019)
Keynote by Dr. Heinz Fischer

It is a great honour and pleasure for me to be invited to the Jeju Peace Forum 2019 and – coming from Austria – to contribute to the topic of “Asia Towards resilient peace” from a European perspective.

  • What led to resilient peace in Europe in the last decades?
  • And what were some of the major lessons learnt?

Dear distinguished participants,

I want to focus on three main lessons here today:

First lesson – balanced cooperation between adversaries at eye-level,

Second lesson – economic collaboration with a shared plan and goal,

Third lesson – upholding of the generally accepted international treaty regime.

Let me elaborate   /   by quickly looking back   /   on historic developments that led to these lessons in Europe.

After the French Revolution the turbulence of the Napoleonic wars had troubled Europe. However, in 1815 the Congress of Vienna developed a new system of European balance of power between Great Britain, France, Germany, the Austro-Hungarian monarchy and Russia. This balance lasted for almost 100 years and it is Prof. Henry Kissinger who very often describes this balance of power in his books as an example of resilient and lasting peace. This lesson is still useful for today’s challenges.   /

Power needs balancing power at eye-level in the essence of Kissinger’s strategic thinking.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the destructive powers of selfish nationalism in central Europe became stronger and stronger. The consequence was the outbreak of World War 1: Central European powers against the coalition of Great Britain, France, Russia and –in the last phase of the war– the United States.

The central European powers lost the war.

Russia was transformed into the Soviet Union, going its own way under the regime of Stalin. And the Peace Treaties from 1919 were dictated rather than negotiated. Regimes acted on the premise of “winners- and losers”- those that could dictate and those that had to obey. This was contributing to inflaming and initiating strong nationalistic feelings, in particular through the Nazi movement in Germany and similar movements in other European countries.

Only 20 years after the end of World War 1, the Second World War started.

But, after World War 2, several lessons from history were learned by the participating nations. Roosevelt, Churchill, de Gaulle and other leaders did not make the mistakes of 1918 and 1919 again.

Democracy, human rights and a new understanding of lasting peace became leading principles after World War 2.

The dominating new idea was that economic cooperation between former enemies, in particular between Germany and France, should be so strong, that political cooperation becomes a necessary consequence and war becomes impossible.

This was the basis for the European integration.

A second element of post war peace policy was the Marshall Plan, which built Europe up after the Second World War and evidently also helped the United States to achieve its geostrategic and economic positioning- it was a win-win situation for former adversaries. Economic cooperation makes political cooperation easier.

And the third lesson was to secure all of this by a generally accepted international treaty regime.

International treaties and institutions secured trust and displayed good will for political and economic cooperation.

The most important institution was, and still is, the United Nations, which was created in 1945, followed by the Council of Europe, created in 1949.

The treaty of Rome in 1957 was giving the European integration an institutional framework.

A big problem after 1945 was the contradiction and even antagonism between the so-called East and West, namely between the Soviet Union and its allies and the United States and its allies. One could also say, between NATO and the Warsaw Pact.

The establishment of the OSCE in 1973, which today counts 57 Member States from Europe, Asia and North America, was designed for a global security dialogue, but in fact didn’t prove to be strong enough.

It was a dangerous period, but both sides tried to limit the risk of war.

Willy Brandt, the German prime minister in the 1970’s, decorated with the Nobel Peace Prize, whom I personally appreciated very much, once said: “Peace is not everything, but everything is nothing without peace”.

In my opinion, he is right. The collapse of the communist system in Europe and the disintegration of the Soviet Union 30 years ago, again changed the situation. European integration was successfully developing. Many countries under communist dictatorships changed to more democratic systems and East and West Germany were united again peacefully.

Unfortunately, the peak of these positive developments was reached at the turn to the 21st century – at least from a European point of view.

A worldwide financial crisis was producing economic and political tensions and problems.

The political climate and stability started to change and to deteriorate. The extension of NATO to the Russian border was, in my opinion, not a very wise decision.

Egoistic and nationalistic tendencies were growing.

In the United States President Trump is to this day the inglorious proponent of the “my country first” policy, antagonistic to the lessons we had already learned in the past. The future lies in collaboration – not in confrontation.

In addition, the elections of the European Parliament last Sunday (26 May) have produced significant changes, and shifting seats and more influence from the center to the nationalistic right.

Are these European lessons also relevant for Asia?
I think, all of the lessons are global ones. Therefore, my conclusions are:

First – never give up on striving for balanced cooperation of adversaries at eye-level,

Only if one seeks cooperation instead of confrontation major challenges can be overcome. Europe unified when die adversaries Germany and France intertwined their war-related sectors of the economy.

Second – aim for collaboration with a shared plan and goal,

The United Nations has given the global community a solid plan for the future of our planet. It is the Sustainable Development Goals which can be also seen as a global plan for governing; at least as the closest shared compromise that we currently have as international community.

Third – everyone need to do the utmost to uphold the generally accepted international treaty regime.

Only in an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect for agreements, the global community will succeed to find the necessary balanced solutions to varying interest.

In my opinion, the decision of President Trump to withdraw from the INF, from the Paris Climate Agreement and from the Joint Comprehension Plan of Action with Iran in my mind is the opposite of wise decisions because it is destroying trust in international agreements. This makes the very difficult negotiations with North Korea on nuclear disarmament even more difficult.

In my opinion, we have learned a lot from the dramatic history of the 20th century, but it seems that on the other hand, we just begin to forget some of the important lessons of our history.

Now it is our responsibility to make sure those lessons remain guiding principles for a peaceful future. At the same time, new ideas must be implemented in our actions in order to master the problems of the next generation.

 

Photo: Jeju Forum

Welcome remarks

Europe and the SDGs: Best-practices and Recommendations
Heinz Fischer

Address

As Co-Chairman of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens I want to warmly welcome you to our panel discussion on “Europe and the SDGs: Best-practices and Recommendations”, in cooperation with the Embassy of Sweden in Vienna and Think Austria.

It is not a coincidence that we are discussing this topic here today at the Schwedenhaus. Sweden is the leading country when it comes to the implementation of the SDGs and is holding the impressive SDG index score of 85 out of 100, followed by Denmark and Finland.

I remember the year 2015 and the efforts and endurance of my good friend and partner Ban Ki-moon, while he was still Secretary General of the United Nations. Countless hours of drafting and negotiating the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and its 169 targets with numerous different entities were necessary, in order to finally get the signatures of all UN Member States.

The Sustainable Development Summit in New York from September 25 to 27 with over 150 world leaders marked the launch of the ambitious Agenda 2030.  To me, it symbolized the determination of the international community to mobilize efforts to a more equal, sustainable and peaceful world for all.

In my speech as President of the Republic of Austria during the Summit for the Adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in New York on 27 September 2015, I said: “The Agenda 2030 presents us with the opportunity to make sustainable development a reality, but it also gives us significant responsibilities”.

3 years have passed since the Agenda 2030 has come into force and it is time to look at current implementations by governments and businesses in Europe and how they can be improved.

What I notice when looking at the 2018 SDG Index prepared by SDSN and the Bertelsmann Stiftung, is that all countries in the Top 20 are OECD countries. This should, however, not stop us from continuing our efforts towards efficient policy implementations.

Austria is ranked 9th and even though I am no expert in this field, allow me to say that we can do better.

On the one hand, it is important to highlight best-practices and make them publicly available so that everyone, from governments and businesses to civil society, can be inspired and incorporate them into their own agenda. In 2018, Concorde Europe did this by publishing good practices from across the continent and divided the examples into 4 categories, namely: Monitoring and Accountability, New Partnerships, Parliament Involvement and Participative Processes. Our panel today should also serve as a platform to exchange innovative ideas and to empower one another to do more!

On the other hand, critical assessments and accountability are crucial for new policy recommendations and the achievement of the SDGs. Yes, Austria is under the top 10, but if I look at our scores for SDG5, gender equality, and SDG17, partnerships, I see room for improvement. We have to grasp those weak spots and treat them as opportunities for transformation, transformations that will benefit the entire society.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me conclude my remarks by emphasizing that the Agenda 2030 is not a competition. In the end, we should focus less on ranks and more on supporting each other by strengthening cooperation in the implementation of the SDGs. Let’s learn from each other. Let’s inspire each other. Let’s work beyond national borders to reach our common goal of an equal, sustainable and peaceful future for all.

Thank you.

Photo: Harald_Klemm

“Everyone can change the world!” says Ban Ki-moon in the interview with the Austrian Red Cross

Ban Ki-moon Interview
Magazine “My Red Cross” by the Austrian Red Cross

How is the world going to look like in 50 years?

In 50 years sustainability has hopefully become the global norm. The world now has the largest generation of young people in history. I place great hopes in their power and positive activism to shape our future. They are part of the first generation that can end poverty and the last that can avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Hopefully, even before 50 years have passed, quality education will be provided to all, gender equality will become the standard, health and well-being will be guaranteed for each human being and all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be achieved. It has to be an effort of everybody at all leaves to leave no one behind.

 

Are you afraid your children and grandchildren will have to live on a destroyed planet one day?

Climate change is the most pressing challenge we face as human beings today. It is not slowing down, and the clock is ticking. Natural disasters are becoming more and more frequent and devastating, from historic floods, fires, storms, tsunamis and earthquakes. To protect our planet for future generations, steps must be taken to both combat and to adapt to the changing climate and with accelerated action. It is our collective responsibility as global citizens to see that our planet remains inhabitable and safe for the generations to come.

 

There are more extreme weather events in the world and climate change seems to be speeding up. Do you think mankind has realized what is at stake?

Many of us are very aware of what is at stake, especially those who are making it their life’s work to mitigate and adapt to climate change. However, despite the many who are aware and active, some are choosing to turn a blind eye. This is troubling, particularly when it comes from national leaders. When the US and President Trump pulled-out of the Paris Climate agreement, this was deeply concerning. I have been speaking out that his vision is politically short-sighted, and economically irresponsible and scientifically wrong. So, he is standing on the wrong side of history. Despite this, I am encouraged and hopeful that the whole world will be united in moving ahead with this Paris Climate Change Agreement. It is the political and moral responsibility of our political leaders to support this.

 

You traveled to the US in 1962 with students from 42 different countries to visit the American Red Cross and meet president Kennedy. How did that influence you?

Thanks to the American Red Cross, I was given the opportunity to join students from 42 countries to travel across the United States visiting Red Cross chapters. This opened my eyes to the world. During the trip, I met then President John F. Kennedy, who said to us “there are no national boundaries; there is only a question of whether we can extend a helping hand.” This strong message has been engraved in my memory ever since and I continue to try my utmost to do my share as a global citizen to help those in need. All our helping hands are needed.

 

What are your feelings when you look back from our very different time with very different presidents?

The world has changed vastly since 1962. Since then, the world has faced rising global challenges. Leaders, in recent years, have turned towards nationalism and populism, putting up walls instead of extending helping hands. This is, plainly stated, not the way forward. Leaders must have and enlist a global vision in all that they do, seeing beyond their national borders. I have not met many that have a global vision. Nelson Mandela is one of the examples that comes to mind. Many around the world were greatly influenced by his selfless struggle for human dignity, equality and freedom.  He touched our lives in deeply personal ways.  At the same time, no one did more in our time to advance the values and aspirations of the United Nations.

 

You come from South Korea – and 80 percent of the people affected by natural disasters live in Asia. Who should start to accomplish the turnaround in climate politics?

Natural disasters are having a major impact around the world and indeed Asia is majorly affected. China has a great responsibility in the region as well as in the world in leading the turnaround in climate politics. Recently, the country has shown great leadership in cleaning up the air and has contributed greatly to the Green Climate Fund. Additionally, China reached its 2020 carbon emission target three years ahead of schedule with the help of the country’s carbon trading system. China will be key to getting other countries to comply with the Paris Climate Agreement.

 

What can individuals do to change the world?

I firmly believe that individuals have the power to change the world for the better, be it at a local, regional, or global level. Women make up half the world and half the world’s population are under the age of 25; therefore, it is vital to empower these groups to act as global citizens, showing solidarity and compassion towards the challenges the world faces. At the beginning of 2018 we founded the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens in Vienna, Austria together with my Co-chair Former Federal President of the Republic of Austria Heinz Fischer for this exact purpose. In the world today, there are plenty of people with passion, yet not enough with compassion. This is unfortunate, so we must educate the world’s youth to understand that their actions have ripple effects on other around the world. We must teach empathy alongside math and history, for without this and a global vision, we will not succeed in creating a sustainable future for us all, leaving no one behind.

 

What is necessary to achieve a turnaround – does the planet need a new economic system to find a path towards sustainability?

To achieve the turnaround, there are many steps the world needs to take. These may be at the systemic level, but also at the social and individual levels. Businesses need to understand the economic and additional benefits that come from operating more sustainably. The system may not need to change, but the structures within it and leadership can be transformative. The Global Compact has proven that companies who adapt to more sustainable practices will have a “win-win” situation as their success requires stable economies and healthy, skilled and educated workers, among other factors. And sustainable companies experience increased brand trust and investor support.

Additionally, engaging women more in the economic system will also cause a transformation of the global economy and vastly impact sustainability. When more women work, economies prosper and grow. An increase in female labour force participation and a reduction in the gap between women’s and men’s labour force participation, leads to faster economic growth.

These are just a few of the ways in which the turnaround, with regards to the economy, can be achieved.

 

You say global issues need global solutions, and that it takes responsibility and global citizenship. But isn’t growing nationalism around the world – and blaming globalisation for problems – preventing just that?

Nationalism is truly the antithesis of the notion of global citizenship and it is hampering our progress towards building a sustainable planet. Indeed, global solutions are necessary. However, when world leaders and nations retreat into their own bubbles, we are not able to have the difficult discussions needed to make progress towards achieving the 2030 Agenda and meeting the challenges we face today. Therefore, multilateralism must continue to be fostered wherever possible. We need to keep these avenues of discourse open.

Read the magazine (German) here: http://epaper.roteskreuz.at/MRK1Wien2019/

Photo: Peter Lechner

 

 

Ban Ki-moon Keynote Remarks at MIPIM 2019

Keynote Remarks at MIPIM 2019

12 March 2019 14:00, Cannes, France

Je vous remercie pour votre présentation chaleureuse,

MIPIM Directeur Mr. Ronan Vaspart,

Chers invités, Mesdames et Messieurs,

Je suis honoré d’être là cet après-midi au MIPIM 2019— le leader mondial du marché immobilier— comme nous travaillons ensemble pour un avenir engageant.

Et c’est mon grand privilège de délivrer ce discours inaugural à un point nommé pour votre industrie, la durabilité humaine et notre planète.

J’utilise cette opportunité pour montrer ma profonde gratitude aux partenaires, sponsors, investisseurs, les représentants publics, les gestionnaires de fonds du Reed MIDEM, MIPIM 2019 ainsi que les 26,000 participants représentants 100 pays qui se sont rassemblés ici cette semaine.

Depuis les 30 dernières années, ce dynamique rassemblement annuel a été le premier vrai évènement mondial de l’immobilier.

Cela a réuni les intervenants clés de tous les secteurs de l’industrie immobilière mondiale ainsi que des leaders experts mondiaux, des orateurs, des innovateurs et des pionniers.

Toutes les personnes réunies aujourd’hui ont des informations a partager. Le travail crucial que vous menez est toujours plus essential pour s’assurer la viabilité future de notre planète ainsi que de l’humanité.

 

Je suis vraiment honoré d’avoir l’opportunité de m’adresser à vous cet après-midi.

Je suis également ravie d’être ici à nouveau, dans cette magnifique ville de Canne. La Côte d’Azur est tellement pittoresque en cette période de l’année.

En fait, elle est à n’importe quelle période de l’année. Je remercie aux gens et la ville de Canne pour m’avoir reçu ici aujourd’hui.

 

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our world is going through pronounced changes resulting in elevated uncertainties and new risks.

Challenges to the existing international order and institutions are being felt across continents and industries.

Leaders are taking advantage of hateful rhetoric for the sake of electoral popularity.

Societies are overwhelmed by an unfounded sense of fear and resentment, often making the enemy out of the weak and the vulnerable. Nations are erecting walls to keep refugees and migrants at bay.

The same logic and sentiment to keep people away are easily applied to the goods and services produced by those same unwanted people. Threats of tariffs and protectionism are disrupting free trade.

People are increasingly looking inward as nationalism and xenophobia spreads. Human rights are no longer respected, threatening the rules-based order based on human decency and mutual respect.

Development and humanitarian resources are being depleted at an alarming rate, as governments are slashing their funding. This is only building up more pressure in places in dire need of help.

At the same time, new technologies are altering how we communicate, live, and work. Sweeping advances in the fields of AI, biotechnology, and robotics will have massive implications for the future of our countries, communities, supply chains, businesses, and interpersonal relationships.

Social media has brought the world increasingly closer, but has also sowed division and discord in our societies through disinformation and hateful rhetoric spread at record speeds.

Here in France, you have seen some of these issues converge in recent months, and the anger and sense of marginalization in response has been manifested through the large grass-roots gilets jaunes protests.

Frustration at structural inequality coupled with economic austerity policies is understandable. And while the French people are making their democratic voices heard, violence can never be the solution.

President Macron’s stated understanding of the “anger and indignation” of the protesters was a courageous start.

Now, like many other leaders around the world, he is actively engaging in an ongoing and difficult process of dialogue among the many stakeholders of French society by touring the country and listening to the concerns of citizens and local mayors through his grand débat. I am confident this will be a rewarding process and France will emerge stronger.

 

When you look around the world today, here in France and elsewhere, it is apparent that we have globalization that has led to some imbalances and a lot of inequality.

We must find a mutually acceptable solution that is underpinned with sustainability for those who feel they have been left behind without sinking into populist isolationism.

We should understand that in our increasingly interconnected world, global challenges require inherently global solutions.

This is why the UN has a blueprint — the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals — aiming exactly at creating a fair globalization, advancing better conditions, and not leaving anyone behind.

During my ten-year tenure as United Nations Secretary-General, I strived to execute my global leadership duties by leveraging the power of partnerships.

This is important as governments and international institutions can no longer bear these responsibilities alone in our rapidly changing world.

Today, I wish to share with you my thoughts on how to best approach the daunting task of ensuring that our future is sustainable, resilient, and dynamic.

I will propose that the key to achieving this challenge lies with industry leaders such as you. If the world is to succeed in advancing sustainability and prosperity, your help is essential. Having said this let me expand further on the following three critical areas.

First, I will highlight how our collective future will greatly depend on cities that are resilient and sustainable.

Second, I will discuss the most pressing threat standing in this path – climate change.

And third, I will underline how achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals can help us chart a thriving blueprint for the future.

 

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Sustainable, inclusive cities are the key to transform our world for the better. How we develop our cities will have major implications in achieving the future we want.

Over the next eleven years, progress in science, technology, and innovation in our cities will be essential in delivering on all of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals—from poverty eradication, food security, to energy, water, and sanitation—and beyond.

As such, I firmly believe that searching for a new city model is urgent because cities bring so many solutions to help overcome humanity’s sustainability crisis.

Current urbanization trends are further aggravating the sustainability crisis, which is proceeding rapidly, particularly in Asia, but also here in Europe and elsewhere.

More than one hundred million people are moving to cities each year, and four hundred million people are projected to add to urban populations. According to the UN, 68% of the world’s population is slated to live in urban areas by 2050.

 

To cope with these challenges, we must ensure that our future cities are resilient and sustainable, creative and innovative, and inclusive and equitable.

First, as climate change brings dire threats to cities around the world, we must fortify our great cities of today to flourish in the climate realities of tomorrow.

Indeed, we need forward-thinking planning, adaptation, science, engineering, and innovation to make certain that our future cities, and their housing, are resilient in the face of the effects of climate change. This not only includes sea level rise, flooding, extreme heat, and other direct threats, but also expanded levels of hunger, resource depletion, migration, and security concerns stemming from climate change.

Second, we need to come together in partnership to think big, plan ambitiously, and nurture creative urban innovation in the digital era. We need “new civilization” creative cities where data, information, and knowledge-sharing lead to the equitable dissemination of essential services, and where new technologies can bring inclusive benefits during the “Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

Leaders from the real estate industry, investors, and fund managers like you, as well as other stakeholders from the private sector, have a prominent role to play in this regard.

Third, it is not enough for cities to be “smart” if they only cater to affluent professionals, or young people, or those who are able-bodied. Rather, future cities must be underpinned by inclusivity for all: young and old, men and women, rich and poor, citizens and migrants.

Policy-makers and other key stakeholders like you should use the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Climate Agreement, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and the New Urban Agenda to anchor our future cities and housing with guiding sustainability.

Building resilient, sustainable cities for the next civilization around the world, as urbanization is rapidly accelerating, is not a project for the future anymore. It is a project for today.

In this context, I appeal to you to combine your vision, strength, and creative innovation to do all you can to prioritize sustainability and climate adaptation in the housing and cities of tomorrow.

The blueprints that you design might just be one of our best hopes to save our vulnerable planet.

 

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Climate change is creating dire risks and instability. We must increase our collective efforts to protect ourselves, our communities, and our world from the existential threats that this will bring. The clock, however, is counting down fast.

From record-breaking heat waves and wildfires, to hurricanes and flooding of historic intensity, climate change is no longer a debate. It is clearly here right now.

Here in France, a warming planet and rising sea levels could render your scenic regions starkly different in the coming years. Entire seafront communities, including here on the French Riviera, are at serious risk due to rising sea levels. This could upend the real estate market, agriculture production, and contribute to a new, climate-driven financial crisis.

And elsewhere, the extreme weather events of just the last year alone point to a bleak and dangerous future. 2018 was the fourth hottest year on record globally, with the three previous years the only ones hotter.

The western United States was engulfed in flames and smoke from historic and deadly wildfires. Intense and prolonged heat waves claimed dozens of lives in Europe, Japan, and Korea. Near Greenland, the Arctic’s thickest sea ice broke up for first time on record.

These events no longer seem like anomalies; rather they appear to be the new normal.

So we must immediately take the necessary steps to combat climate change, or these turbulent shifts will continue to bring dangerous scorching heat waves to our cities and regions.

They will cause sea levels to rise higher and lead to deadly flooding. They will make wildfires even more frequent and intense. They will drive displacement and seriously threaten entire communities and countries.

With this reality in mind, we must urgently step-up our collective efforts to implement the Paris Agreement. The bottom line is that we don’t have a plan B, simply because we don’t have a planet B either.

 

The Paris Agreement, signed by 197 state-parties in 2015, offers us a clear game plan to confront these serious threats to our planet. It sets viable targets to impede rising temperatures, constrict greenhouse gas emissions, and spur climate-resilient development and green growth.

I truly believe that the Paris Agreement offers us our best hope to persevere over the serious threats to our ailing planet. But to achieve this goal, we need to keep working together.

We have no time to spare. Indeed, the alarming recent report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change clearly details that we have just 12 years to act before climate change becomes catastrophic.

Climate change is a global challenge demanding global solutions. The UN IPCC issued its special report to urge the international community to set a new target of reducing the planet’s temperature to 1.5 Celsius degree rather than 2.0 Celsius degree, as agreed by the Paris Climate Accord in 2015.

Equity, inclusivity, and cooperation must underpin our collective response to meet the 1.5 degree target, with states acting in the same spirit that led to the Paris Agreement and the SDGs. Climate change respects no borders; our actions must transcend all frontiers.

But, despite this, there are still many reasons for optimism.

I am impressed by the “We Are Still In” actions of the many cities, states, and companies in the US who have joined together to ensure implementation of the Paris Agreement despite the unfortunate decision of the US government to withdraw.

These actions will help fill the vacuum and work towards US implementation of the Paris Agreement. And this is an inspiring example of the utility of catalyzing partnerships, anchored by the spirit of global citizenship, in helping us achieve our climate goals.

The real estate industry has a prominent role to play in these partnership efforts. Indeed, climate change will have negative impacts on housing worldwide, particularly in large cities in close proximity to the oceans. This is already affecting real estate prices and the potential for future climate-change driven foreclosure crises is real.

Take the lead in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in your properties and industry. Scale-up climate adaptation actions for your assets. Ensure that all commercial and residential properties have sustainability certification. Integrate climate-risk considerations into your investment decisions.

Climate change is here right now, and fighting it must be the overarching task of our time. We are all in this together, and to achieve sustainable development, we simply must continue our momentum forward, together.

 

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

During my two terms as UN Secretary-General, I am proud to have prioritized and expanded the importance of the Organization’s global development efforts.

The 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals is one of the UN’s most significant achievements. It builds on the Millennium Development Goals and provides humanity, and our planet, with a collaborative blueprint to ensure the future we want.

Adopted by 193 countries in New York in 2015, the SDGs offer us a way forward to confront the most critical issues of our time, including poverty and hunger, climate change, gender equality, and sustainable cities.

Specifically, Goal 11 of the SDGs calls to “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable” It aims to provide access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services, reduce adverse environmental impact in cities, and strengthen integrated policies and plans towards inclusion, resource efficiency, and adaptation to climate change.

However, three and half years since the SDGs were adopted, progress remains uneven and some sectors and geographic areas are moving faster than others.

For example, according to the 2018 SDG Index and Dashboards Report, while most G20 countries have started SDGs implementation, visible gaps remain. Additionally, no country is currently on track towards achieving all of the SDGs.

With this in mind, global partnerships, including the active participation of leaders from the private sector like you, are necessary if we are to deliver on our development commitments.

Goal 17 of the SDGs clearly highlights the prominent role that the private sector, alongside civil society, academia, and others, should play to help achieve the SDGs.

It calls for “multi-stakeholder partnerships that mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources, to support the achievement of the sustainable development goals in all countries.”

In this regard, I am proud to have expanded and mainstreamed the UN Global Compact which ensures that business is done both sustainably and responsibly.

I am encouraged that many organizations in the land, construction, and real estate sector, as well as those working with them, are UN Global Compact participants. I am pleased to see that the initiatives and driving vision of your industry fits seamlessly into this paradigm, particularly as it relates to the UN’s sustainable development and climate goals.

I applaud your driving sense of social responsibility in pursuing growth in step with the international community’s collective efforts to achieve sustainable development and reduce our carbon footprint.

More than ever before, we need elevated solidarity between all stakeholders, particularly the private sector, which is likely to play a more important role than was originally envisaged in the mobilization of funding and the advancement of innovative technologies to help achieve our sustainable development and climate goals.

 

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Please allow me to conclude my remarks by saying that, despite the geopolitical and environmental challenges that we face, if we continue to work together we will not only persevere; we will thrive.

We are living in an age where innovation is soaring in unprecedented ways alongside a striking global interconnectivity of people, businesses, and cultures. And the real estate industry is currently centrally positioned in this regard.

Despite the many diverse challenges we currently face, we must also remind ourselves that we are all global citizens. We all share the land, the oceans, the air, and the planet.

And I strongly believe that in this era of division and uncertainty, fighting climate change and achieving the UN’s SDGs are two efforts that must unite all nations and global citizens through cooperation and partnership. Quite plainly, our collective existence moving forward depends on it.

As long as we keep moving forward in a responsible and sustainable manner while continuing to build dynamic and innovative partnerships, there is simply no limit as to what we can achieve. Our global challenges require robust global solidarity.

 

Je demande respectueusement à tous ceux qui sont là de continuer leur rôle pour aider les Nations Unis à avancer dans le développement durable et atteindre son objectif en matière de climat.

Continuez à vous efforcer à concevoir, construire les villes souples et inclusives de demain de manière écologiquement viable. Allez plus loin dans le partage des savoirs essentiels et meilleurs pratiques.

Continuez les coopérations fortes tant à l’intérieur qu’à l’extérieur de votre industrie d’une manière que cela transcende les frontières pour le bénéfice de notre future et la planète.

Pensez au-delà de vous-même, votre entreprise et votre pays.

Pensez, vivez, travaillez et rêvez à globalement !

Si vous vous pouvez faire ça, et je suis persuadé que nous le pouvons, notre monde continuera à faire de grands progrès et prospérer pendant de longues années à venir.

Je vous remercie pour votre attention et je vous félicite sincèrement pour l’inauguration du MIPIM 2019.

Merci beaucoup! /END/

 

Photo: S. d’Halloy IMAGE&CO

GEEF 2019 Opening Remarks Ban Ki-moon

OPENING REMARKS

GEEF OPENING SESSION – Ban Ki-moon
Yonsei University, Korea
14th February 2019

His Excellency Sebastian Kurz, Chancellor of Austria;

His Excellency Heinz Fischer, Former President of Austria;

Her Excellency Helen Clark, former Prime Minster of New Zealand;

Dr. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, Executive Secretary of UNESCAP;

Dr. Mahmoud Mohieldin, Senior Vice President of the World Bank Group;

Honorable Park Won-soon, Mayor of Seoul Metropolitan Government;

Her Excellency Lee Mikyung, President of KOICA;

Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of UNFPA;

Welcome to the second annual Global Engagement and Empowerment Forum on Sustainable Development.

During my ten-year tenure as United Nations Secretary General, one of United Nations’ most important accomplishments was establishing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, known as the SDGs. In 2015, the UN member states showed their devotion and adopted this new vision for sustainable development based on a single principle: “leave no one behind.”

Leaders from all around the world embodied this principle with collective commitment to leave no one behind in the SDGs. These goals are people-centered development that focuses on progression against the existing challenges such as poverty, inequality, public health, gender equality, and many other. Today, the world is changing fast and the journey of achieving inclusive and sustainable development cannot be done alone. That is why leaving no one behind requires a transformation in humanity through communities coming together as one global partnership.

Today, GEEF 2019 continues its momentum from the previously successful GEEF 2018. Last year, GEEF 2018 provided a platform that displayed a global network with thousands of people in attendance. Enthusiastic and dedicated people were witnessed, assembled, and cooperated together to ensure the mutual pursuit of the SDGs.

This year’s GEEF 2019 will serve as a platform that goes beyond simply sharing and extending ideas. As the 17 SDGs emphasize the 2030 Agenda’s five key elements (planet, people, prosperity, peace, and partnership), also known as the 5P’s, GEEF 2019 will offer in-depth discussions of long-term and specific plans to integrate these elements into promoting the concept of sustainability, sustainable development, and social equity.

 

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Please allow me to conclude that achieving the SDGs by 2030 may seem as a never-ending mission. Yet, year 2030 is soon to come. Therefore, a global legacy needs to be addressed for the betterment of our world. The whole process will be a continuing challenge. Currently, challenges remain but progress are shown. Progress is visible but is still uneven. For example, the 2018 SDG Report stated that poverty gap still remains in which there are approximately 38 million more hungry people in the world, rising from 777 million in 2015 to 815 million in 2016.

Despite this reversal result, I still believe that we are ahead in the right direction. I am also confident in all of our ongoing efforts and commitments that can ultimately achieve our goals of the 2030 global agenda.

 In this regard, a collective effort is needed to promote a global collaborative partnership among all stakeholders at every level of our society. We must work together. We must all play our parts in this progression to become more effective, cohesive, and accountable. I urge you to take full responsibility, join in our efforts as Global Citizens, and contribute towards building a global community, sustainable cooperation, and a world with a better future for all.

 

 

Photo: Arno Melicharek

GEEF 2019 Welcome Remarks Heinz Fischer

WELCOME REMARKS

GEEF OPENING SESSION – HEINZ FISCHER
Yonsei University, Korea
14th February 2019 10:30 – 12:10 

Your Excellency Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz,

My Dear Friend Ban Ki-moon,

Your Excellency Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand,

Your Excellency President Kim Yong-Hak, Yonsei University,

Distinguished friends and students,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure and honor for me to be addressing you today on the occasion of the Second Global Engagement and Empowerment Forum at Yonsei University here in Korea.

I am happy to be back in Korea at this University and want to thank the University for hosting this landmark conference for the second time.

With more than 1,400 participants and a hundred speakers from more than 70 different countries, GEEF 2019 will deliberate the theme: “A Call to Action: Empower People, Share Prosperity.” At the Forum, we have identified pivotal dimensions towards implementing the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda.

Our Ban Ki-moon Centre team in Vienna enjoyed great cooperation with the team here in Seoul in preparing for this Forum. Thank you all for your hard work! It is well invested work to serve the Sustainable Development Goals and to do it in the global interest of peace and in the interest of empowering young people and women.

Looking into the audience in this hall, I see hundreds of young people bursting with potential and energy. This is what we need to carry the message of engagement and empowerment for global citizenship forward.

Youth, namely male and female citizens under 30, now represent over 50% of the world population; the largest percentage in history.

Despite this reality, youth globally remain disadvantaged when it comes to political participation, access to the labor markets, housing, education, and other issues.

At present, about 63 million young people are unemployed and 141 million young people are trapped in working poverty. Additionally, the competition for good education and good jobs is getting tougher and tougher.

Yet youth have better means of communication and activism at their fingertips than ever before. The future of the whole world is dependent on the active engagement and connection of youth worldwide.

Therefore, the Ban Ki-moon Centre focuses its attention on empowering and ensuring that it is YOUR TIME and that YOUR rights are upheld, and that YOU can actively shape the future. This is essential to achieving sustainable development.

Women and girls face additional barriers to their participation and overall prosperity.

The Global Risk Report 2019, published some weeks ago, tells us in addition that 1 in 3 women globally suffer from violence during their lifetime including intimate partner violence. This is not acceptable.

A Global Citizen is not defined by gender, age, race, nationality or religion, but rather by the actions that unite us as human beings.

The Sustainable Development Goals represent this common ground and the shared challenges that we face as humankind.

I am personally impressed by Korea and the speed of its economic growth and development. I am sure this success story can be attributed at least in part to the emphasis on education, the level and room for innovation, and the dedication to learn and to work.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It has now been a year since the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens in Vienna was founded by the initiative of Ban Ki-moon. We have achieved a lot in this first year.

We look forward to 2019 and to continuing to scale and pursue our mission to empower youth and women worldwide to act as global citizens in a peaceful, prosperous, and fair world on the basis of human rights.

We thank all of you for your engagement, energy and inspiration as global citizens of today, tomorrow and beyond.

Thank you!

 

Photo: IGEE

Symposium on “Empowering Women and Supporting Youth in Development and Global Citizenship”

Hosted by the Ministry of Planning and the MOFA
12th of February, 09:00 – 13:45
Location: Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Cultural Centre, Kuwait

Dear Co-chair President Heinz Fischer,

Your Excellency Mariam Al Aqeel, Minister of State for Economic Affairs,

Your Excellency Khaled Mahdi, Secretary General of the General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development,

Your Excellency Ambassador Sadiq Marafi,

Your Excellencies Ambassadors,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Salam Alaikum!

First, I would like to thank the General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for organizing today’s “Symposium on Empowering Women and Supporting Youth in Development and Global Citizenship”.

The title of this event truly embraces the fundamental vision and mission of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens.

The Ban Ki-moon Centre was founded one year ago as a quasi-international organization, dedicated to the empowerment of women and youth to strive as global citizens. Since then, it has been actively engaging with numerous partners and has gained the support of committed stakeholders and entities who all seek to make this world a better place for all.

Upon the generous invitation of the State of Kuwait, the Centre is currently holding its third Board Meeting in this beautiful country. Our Board is very thankful to receive the opportunity to gather here and chart the course of this young and thriving organization.

The past days have been filled with productive and intensive talks about the Centre’s achievements and about what lies ahead in 2019 and beyond.

We have had the unique chance to meet with the most respected leaders of this country and discuss further opportunities of cooperation between the Ban Ki-moon Centre and the State of Kuwait.

Furthermore, it has been a wonderful experience to dive into Kuwait’s extraordinary culture, traditions and heritage.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The work of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals. Their implementation is necessary to empower women and the youth to live in a world, in which all people can thrive as global citizens.

The 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals is one of the UN’s most significant achievements. It builds on the Millennium Development Goals and provides humanity, and our planet, with a collaborative blueprint to ensure the future we want.

Adopted by 193 countries in New York in September 2015, the SDGs offer us a way forward to confront the most critical issues of our time. These include poverty, education, inequality, climate change, public health, and gender equality.

Sustainability means ensuring prosperity and environmental protection without compromising future generations and our planet.

And it means that women and girls are afforded equal rights and equal opportunities.

Half the world are women and half the world are under the age of 25.

To achieve sustainable development, it requires the active participation of us all, especially of women and youth, those whose futures most depend on the realization of the goals.

During my time as UN Secretary-General I understood that young people and women are absolutely essential to solving so many of the world’s biggest challenges.

Indeed, without the engagement of women and youth, we will not succeed. That is why in 2010, I established UN Women and in 2013, I appointed first ever UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi who is now a member of the Ban Ki-moon Centre.

So we must do more to engage and empower these two groups as they are the enablers to achieve sustainable development. By doing so, we can help unlock their unbridled potential as the agents of change and dynamic global citizens of tomorrow.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have taken significant leaps forward in the field of global development in recent years. The international community, guided by the United Nations Millenium Goals and Sustainable Development Goals, has undoubtedly improved human welfare around the world.

Extreme poverty rates were cut by half in 2010. This represents over 1 billion people and is truly an incredible achievement. During this period, the under-five mortality rate has been halved and rates of maternal deaths have been reduced by 45 percent.

And since 1990, 2.1 billion people have benefited from access to improved sanitation and over 2.6 billion people now have improved sources of water.

But there is still much work to be done. Nearly 10 percent of the world’s workers and their families still live on less than $1.90 a day. Over 6 million children perish each year before they reach their fifth birthday.

And 663 million people remain without drinking water. This figure is in danger of worsening as a result of climate change-accelerated droughts.

Inequality is also growing, both between and within nations. Since 2000, 50 percent of the increase in global wealth has only benefitted the top 1% of the world’s population.

Even more jarring, a recent report indicated that just 42 rich individuals hold as much wealth as the 3.7 billion people who comprise the poorest 50% of the global population.

Challenges to the post-Second World War international order and our multilateral institutions are being felt in a variety of spheres.

Our world is going through pronounced changes and this is resulting in elevated uncertainties and new risks.

Tariffs and protectionism are threatening free trade, conflicts between the US and its traditional allies such as Canada are growing, and US trade wars with China and the EU are expanding.

Human rights are under threat as nationalism and xenophobia spreads. Development and humanitarian funds are being slashed. Our climate is changing, and this is bringing dire risks to our ailing planet.

At the same time, new technologies are altering how we communicate, live, and work. Sweeping advances in the fields of AI, blockchain, biotechnology, and robotics will alter the future of our countries, cities, businesses, and interpersonal relationships.

Under this backdrop of waning internationalism and dizzying change, we must continue to work together through expanded partnerships and cooperation. We must also forge ahead through a driving commitment to global citizenship to help cope with these seemingly insurmountable challenges.

At the same time we must acknowledge the progress that we have made in key areas and I am confident that we also have invaluable opportunities to change the world for the better.

Much of this progress is grounded in the power of partnerships and cooperation to achieve our development goals. And much of this hope is driven by my belief in education, youth empowerment, and action.

Young people are such a crucial part of the ultimate success of the United Nation’s efforts to ensure a more peaceful and sustainable world.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The 2030 Agenda promises to leave no one behind – and help the furthest behind first.

In a decade as Secretary-General, I have seen what is possible when we work together. The United Nations, governments and the private sector are collaborating more, with important results.

We will need to activate business as never before, and quickly. We need to spread the word far and wide that every business has a responsibility to improve our world.

Nearly every UN entity is partnering with companies to advance common objectives, from disaster relief and sanitation, to women’s empowerment and education.

This is why the third Session of today’s symposium about “The Role and Efforts of the Private Sector in Empowering Women and Supporting Youth in Development” is absolutely essential. I am looking forward to listening to the insights of Kuwait’s experts in this regard.

We have learned that the SDGs point the way toward the business activities and markets of the future.

Now is the time to mobilize the global business community as never before. The case is clear. Realizing the Sustainable Development Goals will improve the environment for doing good business and

building markets. Trillions of dollars in public and private funds are to be redirected towards the SDGs, creating huge opportunities for responsible companies to deliver solutions.

The SDGs are unprecedented in their ambition – but the fundamental ways that business can contribute remain unchanged. Companies need to do business responsibly and then pursue new opportunities. In short, companies must not make our world’s problems worse before they try to make them better.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Global citizenship is an important concept that can serve as a unique tool to help solve some of our most pressing challenges and assist us in reaching our global goals.

Global citizens are those who identify themselves not as a member of a nation, but instead, as a member of humanity more largely. They are understanding and tolerant of other people and cultures.

They fight for the protection of our planet and human rights. They are committed to service and helping others. They build bridges rather than construct walls. They look beyond the narrow prism of national and personal interests and work for a better world.

And to establish long-term solutions, we need inclusive and participatory action from young global citizens as an essential ingredient to leverage the great potential of partnerships that I spoke of earlier.

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.”

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Moving forward, to have a more secure world, we must base our growth on sustainability and equality. The foundation must be human rights and, as we continue to grow, we must remain resilient and open to change.

We all have the power as global citizens to be a part of insuring the sustainable development and progress of our communities, countries, and world. The SDGs are the pathway for our future and the roadmap for our continued success as human beings.

This Symposium is a platform for exchanging views, listening, and understanding opinions and the positions of others. This can lead to new ideas and the birth of new initiatives, collaborations, and successes.

Please allow me to conclude my remarks by saying that despite the challenges we currently face, if we join together in strong partnerships and move forward as global citizens, we can achieve our global goals and create a brighter future for all.

Shukran.

Thank you.

Symposium on “Empowering Women and Supporting Youth in Development and Global Citizenship”

Hosted by the Ministry of Planning and the MOFA
12th of February, 09:00 – 13:45
Location: Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Cultural Centre, Kuwait

Dear Ban Ki-moon,

Your Excellency Mariam Al-Aqeel, Minister of State and Foreign Affairs,

Your Excellency Khaled Mahdi, Secretary-General of the General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development,

Your Excellency Ambassador Sadiq Marafi,

Excellencies,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all, I want to say that it is a great pleasure and honour for the delegation of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens to be here in this wonderful country and to participate in the Symposium on “Empowering Women and Supporting Youth in Development and Global Citizenship”.

My first intensive contact to Kuwait was in 1981 when I accompanied Federal Chancellor Bruno Kreisky on his State visit to Kuwait.

I was able to visit Kuwait for a state visit exactly ten years ago, in February 2009, when I learned to appreciate the great hospitality from His Royal Highnesses Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.

I took away great memories from this visit.

Today’s Symposium about Empowering Women and Supporting Youth in Development and Global Citizenship clearly underscores the vision of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens.

Our work at the Centre seeks to empower women and youth to strive as global citizens in a peaceful and prosperous world.

This work cannot be done without a dedicated Board that serves as the backbone of our organization and of course our partners, such as the State of Kuwait, who support us and contribute to the resources that we need to be successful.

Leadership, mediation, advocacy, education, and also compassion are cornerstones and mechanisms that we have identified to be most valuable in the implementation of our goals.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Women represent 50% of the population globally. Nevertheless, the history of civilization is coined by the discrimination of women in various cultures and eras.

Women’s rights have been infringed and the burdens of life have been lying much heavier on women’s shoulders than on men’s.

In the 18th century, during the period of Enlightenment, Europe finally started to have serious discussions about women’s rights and equality.

The idea of universal fundamental and human rights based on human dignity and to be granted regardless of origin, race, sex or religion etc. was introduced to politics and incorporated in the goals of progressive movements and in the texts of modern constitutions.

Documents of the French Revolution and the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America did pioneer work in that regard.

The 20th century was characterized by movements towards the political equality of human beings.

In 1918 and 1919 Germany, Austria and other European countries introduced women’s active and passive right to vote.

In the aftermath of the Second World War, the Human Rights Declaration of the United Nations was passed in 1948 and the European Human Rights Convention followed five years later in 1953.

In the last 50 years the question of equal rights for women and men is less a legal question, but a question of practice and reality.

More and more legal regulations in politics, economy and society seek to decrease the gap between theoretical equality and practical discrimination of women.

A central initiative for that purpose are the Sustainable Development Goals, especially with Goal 5 for Gender Equality.

Global initiatives against the discrimination of women and for women’s empowerment bring people together to raise awareness.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

History shows that we have come a long way. We achieved a lot but there remains a lot that is to be done.

It is estimated that an alarming 1 in 3 women globally will suffer from violence during their lifetime. Violence against women continues to persist and to pose an extreme obstacle to their ability to live in dignity and to their general well-being.

In the political sphere, female heads of states or heads of government are somewhat present but continue to be a very rare minority.

We need more women in parliaments and as political leaders because politics concerns women as much as it concerns men.

To achieve full gender equality in our societies, politics must serve as an example: women belong in leadership positions because we cannot afford to forget the skills and competencies of the female half of our populations.

The economy also demonstrates various aspects in which women are disadvantaged.

In Europe, for instance, women’s salaries are up to one third less than men’s salaries. This must be adjusted and rectified. Fairness and equality mean that women’s work is valued just as much as men’s work.

Europe has made major progress in the field of education.

In the 50s, while I was studying, the percentage of female students was 20%. Then, in the 80s, when I served as the Austrian Minister for Science and Research, more than a third of all students were female.

Today, in Austria, women make up over 50% of all students and this also goes for many other European States.

Men have a clear advantage over women when it comes to university professor positions, showing the obstacles that women face to access leadership positions.

Women’s empowerment must also be regarded as a global issue and put into the bigger picture. It is a key to peace, to eliminating all forms of violence, and to enable families, communities, and nations to thrive

Today, it is particularly interesting to us that we shed light on the advancement of women’s empowerment in the State of Kuwait.

Preparing for this visit, I learned that when it comes to women’s empowerment in the region of the Gulf states and even the whole Middle East, Kuwait has an indeed pioneering role.

Women in Kuwait are amongst the most emancipated in the whole region.

Especially the last 50 years brought significant change for women in Kuwait. Women’s political rights are increasingly respected, giving us hope that we are on the right path.

The General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development of Kuwait is the entity in charge of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and thus, also of Goal Number 5.

Under the directorship of Khaled A. Mahdi, the Secretariat has been keen on implementing the Global Goals.

Today’s Symposium on Empowering Women and Supporting Youth in Development and Global Citizenship reflects this commendable ambition and gives us the chance to discuss the steps that have been done already to make this world a more peaceful and prosperous place for all.

Thanks to you and your Secretariat, experts from around the world are gathered here today to exchange ideas and concrete action plans to implement the SDGs and promote the concept of Global Citizenship.

My deep appreciation also goes to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Kuwait H.E. Sheikh Sabah Al Khaled Al Ahmad Al Sabah who are generously hosting today’s third Board Meeting of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens.

Our good friend, his Excellency Ambassador Sadiq Marafi has been a committed and generous Board member of the Ban Ki-moon Centre right from the very beginning and is a great partner for all initiatives to foster women’s empowerment. We are very grateful for your support.

We are looking forward to intensifying our work with Kuwait and in particular with the General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kuwait and to identifying further opportunities for cooperation.

Let us unite our efforts to reach the great and important goal, namely equal rights and chances for men and women globally in our present world.

Thank you very much.