Co-chair Ban Ki-moon’s speech during opening session of PMAC 2020

Speech by Co-chair Ban Ki-moon

Prince Mahidol Award Conference (PMAC) 2020

Bangkok, Thailand

January 31, 2020

  Your Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, Your Royal Highness Princess Dina Mired, Prince Mahidol Award Laureates, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I am honoured to speak to you today at the opening ceremony of the Prince Mahidol Awards Conference, which has become one of the most important events on the global health calendar. This conference has had a profound impact in shaping the global health agenda – most notably through initiating and spearheading the campaign for Universal Health Coverage. Leading health activists and policy makers have been championing UHC at PMAC for almost a decade now and your collective efforts helped ensure that UHC was incorporated into the Sustainable Development Goals. I congratulate you all for this tremendous achievement. This year, PMAC is taking place at a time of acute public concern about the global health risks posed by the corona virus in China, which has already spread to other countries and continents. As with SARS and avian flu, this epidemic highlights the critical importance of achieving UHC through resilient health systems that can protect all citizens, regardless of income or background. The WHO has just declared corona virus to be a global health emergency. The way to overcome the corona virus is through countries working together in a spirit of solidarity and coordination. This is the same spirit that informs the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, of which UHC forms an integral element. Ladies and gentlemen, today I am speaking to you as the Deputy Chair of The Elders. The Elders believe that the best way to achieve the health SDG is though UHC, where everybody receives the quality health services they need, without suffering financial hardship. By 2030, there should be no one dying needlessly from preventable diseases; no one should be left behind. That is the philosophical motto of the SDGs. Three times over the last decade, all countries have committed themselves to achieving UHC at the United Nations –most recently at the High-Level Meeting on UHC in September 2019. At this, dozens of heads of state said that they would ensure that their countries reach UHC by 2030 and made bold announcements about the health reforms they will implement to achieve this goal. But if we are being honest, we have to acknowledge that since the signing of the SDGs, progress towards UHC has been inadequate and uneven. The latest WHO and World Bank UHC Monitoring Report shows that although health service coverage has been improving, levels of out-of-pocket health spending have been rising, meaning that more people are being impoverished because of health costs. This shows that governments are not meeting their obligations to finance UHC properly – too much of the burden is falling on households. This not only undermines achieving UHC, it is also a threat to global health security, because out-of-pocket-spending on medicines is one of the main drivers of anti-microbial resistance. High private health spending also inhibits progress towards other SDGs including eliminating poverty, reducing inequality and achieving gender equality. Women and their children often suffer most when health services are underfunded, as they have higher healthcare needs but often lower access to financial resources to pay for services themselves. This is why, when implementing UHC reforms, countries must prioritize delivering the health services women and children need most and provide them free at the point of delivery. With the clock ticking to the SDG deadline in 2030, it is therefore appropriate that the theme of this year’s PMAC is “Accelerating Progress Towards UHC”. To achieve this target, many countries will require massive investments in their health systems and radical changes in policies to improve access to care for the poor and vulnerable. The good news is that, by learning from UHC success stories from around the world, including Thailand, we know what works and what doesn’t. Take for example the tricky issue of how to finance UHC. As my fellow Elder, Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway and former Director-General of the WHO, highlighted at the United Nations High-Level Meeting in September: there was a time when some development agencies and Western countries used to discourage higher government spending on health and instead promoted private voluntary financing like user fees and private insurance. But thankfully across the world political leaders, and the heads of international financial institutions and lenders, have now listened to the needs of their people. They have rejected these failed policies and instead switched to a health financing system dominated by public financing – either through general taxation or compulsory social health insurance. This is the only way to ensure that healthy, wealthy members of society subsidize services for the sick and the poor, so that nobody gets left behind. As Dr. Brundtland said in New York:
“If there is one lesson the world has learned, it is that you can only reach UHC through public financing.”
Therefore one of the simplest ways we can hold political leaders to account in reaching UHC is tracking how much public financing they allocate and disburse to their health systems. Transitioning from a health system dominated by private out-of-pocket financing to one mostly financed by public financing has become one of the defining steps in achieving UHC. It’s a transition my own country, the Republic of Korea, made in 1977 and was also seen as the key step to bringing UHC to the United Kingdom in 1948 and Japan in 1961. And of course one of the most celebrated and impressive transitions to publicly financed UHC happened right here in Thailand in 2002, with the launch of the Universal Coverage scheme. It’s worth remembering that this was implemented in the immediate aftermath of the Asian Financial Crisis, when the World Bank advice was that Thailand couldn’t afford to increase public health spending to cover everyone. But as my good friend and former World Bank President, Jim Kim, said at the World Health Assembly in 2013, the Thai Government wisely ignored this advice and in one year injected around half a percent of GDP in tax financing into its health system. In the process, the country swiftly moved from around 70% coverage to almost full population coverage – a shining example of how to accelerate progress towards UHC. In fact, during my time as Secretary-General, I have introduced this story every time we talk about public health and UHC. What Thailand, the Republic of Korea, Japan, the UK and many other countries have also shown is that UHC reforms are so effective and so popular, they can become part of a nation’s identity and prove resilient in the face of changes of government. So what are the implications for the theme of this year’s PMAC: accelerating progress towards UHC? On a global level, we need to prioritize helping countries that are still to make the transition to a universal publicly financed health system. Here our focus should be on countries with low levels of public health spending, often less than 1% of GDP, where up to three quarters of health spending is in the form of user fees. These countries need to double or triple their public spending on health over the next decade and prioritize funding a universal package of services, focusing on primary care services provided free at the point of delivery. These low-spending countries tend to be in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia but there are already shining examples of countries in these regions using public financing to extend health coverage –  for example Sri Lanka in South Asia and Rwanda in Africa. Also, it is perfectly feasible to increase public spending on health this quickly, if there is political will, as shown by Thailand and China. This reinforces the point made by the WHO Director-General Dr Tedros that UHC is a political choice. Your Royal Highnesses, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, let me conclude. The focus of our UHC program at The Elders is to encourage political leaders to make this choice, by helping them appreciate the health, economic, societal and political benefits of achieving UHC. Some of my fellow Elders have spearheaded successful UHC reforms themselves, like former President Ricardo Lagos of Chile and former President Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico – so we are speaking from experience. In doing this we are very keen to work with you, the UHC community, to identify opportunities to promote UHC reforms at the highest level of government. We have already engaged with political leaders in Indonesia, India, South Africa, Tanzania and the United States to promote UHC and are always on the lookout for windows of opportunity to champion UHC to the next generation of global leaders. So if you feel political commitment to UHC is lacking in your country and we can be of assistance, do please let us know, as we want to play our part in accelerating UHC as a means to deliver the SDGs. UHC makes medical, economic, political and social sense. But as the founder of The Elders, Nelson Mandela, so powerfully stated:
“Health cannot be a question of income; it is a fundamental human right.”
At the start of a new decade which also marks the 30th anniversary of Mandela’s freedom from prison, let us commit to work together to realize his vision and make UHC a reality for all. Let us join our hands together to help make the world healthier and stronger Thank you. Source: The Elders  

CEO Monika Froehler speaks at UNODC Education for the Rule of Law: Advancing Engagement on Human Rights Conference

“Education in human rights and rule of law is wise investments for equipping future generations with a compass to navigate in an increasingly complex world,”
Yesterday, Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens CEO Monika Froehler attended and spoke at UNODC’s Education for the Rule of Law: Advancing Engagement on Human Rights event that took place in United Nations Headquarter in Geneva. This event was co-hosted by UNODC and the Permanent Mission of the State of Qatar to the UN in Geneva. Its aim was to explore the inter-linkages between human rights and the rule of law education and, particularly, to highlight the importance of empowering the next generation to uphold the rule of law and human rights. CEO Froehler stressed the role of Education for Justice (E4J) in achieving the SDGs and promoting human rights. She said,
“there is a firm correlation between rule of law, human rights, education and the SDGs. It has been proven that those countries on track to achieve the Global Goals have all these in place. Their attainment is key.”
Stellar speakers who joined the event are: H.E. Ali Al-Mansouri, Ambassador and Permanent Rep of the State of Qatar to the UN Geneva

“Doha Declaration was established to prevent crime and uphold rule of law. This promotes justice for each and every person and encourages building institutions to benefit all.”

  Mr. John Brandolino, Director of the Division for treaty Affairs at UNODC

“Respect for one cannot exist without respect for the other. Educating youth on justice must consider the various dimensions of human rights that are intrinsic therein.”

  H.E. Major-General Dr. Abdullah Al-Mal, Legal Advisor to the PM and Minister of Interior of the State of Qatar

“Supporting and promoting the rule of law cannot be achieved without protecting human rights. Therefore, it’s critical that we look more at strengthening education around human rights.”

  Dr. Najat Maalia M’jid, Special Rep of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children

“Through education, we empower children and youth, including the most vulnerable, to leave no one behind…Nothing for them without them!”

Addressing education and preventing violence against children, she added, “when youth are provided with tools to reach their full potential they will be driving forces towards promoting a culture of lawfulness and achieving the SDGs.”

  Mr. Ibrahim Salama, Chief of the Human Rights Treaties Branch at OHCHR

“If there is one single thing which links all changes, it’s education. If you speak about education and the role of law, you’re essentially speaking about human rights.”

  Dr. Koumbou Boly Barry, Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education

“It’s fundamental that human rights is integrated into education. If we want to change the world, we need to invest in education, which is free, quality and inclusive.”

  Ms. Damaris Akhigbe, Education for Justice (E4J) Youth Champion

“Youth are tired of the way things are. We are now the drivers of change. We’ve seen it with Malala. We’ve seen it with Greta. Change is here.”

“Youth are ready to act for rule of law. Education for Justice provides the necessary platform to make world more peaceful, just and inclusive and implement the UN Youth Strategy and human Rights.”

  Mr. Marco Teixeira, Global Coordinator for Global Programme for the implementation of the Doha Declaration at UNODC

“In Education for Justice, we work with young people. This is essential as they are agents of positive change.”

“Rule of law and promotion of human rights are very closely related. Education youth on rule of law issues has a direct bearing on building a next generation that will stand up for human rights.”

© UNODC  

CEO Monika Froehler hosts a Panel at the 2020 RAUN Conference

2020 RAUN Conference kicked off in Vienna, Austria on January 15th. In cooperation with the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens, University of Vienna, and the International Security and Conflict Analysis Network (iSCAN), this 2-day annual conference was hosted by the Regional Academy on the United Nations (RAUN). This year, the conference had the theme of “Environmental and Socioeconomic Sustainability: How to Create Lasting Impacts,” and was attended by BKMC CEO Monika Froehler and COO Katrin Harvey. Today, on the 2nd day of the conference, Froehler chaired a panel session on “Innovations for Sustainable Development.” During the session, two research groups actively presented their ideas and the research outcomes and raised critical questions, highlighting the importance of community engagement, needs assessment, clear communication, and courage.
CEO Monika Froehler said,
RAUN research groups looked at sustainable development and innovation through the lens of cities and SMEs. One group explored best practices in ViennaHamburg, and Prague. The other explored SMEs in Vietnam and how the 4th Industrial Revolution impacts them.”
Learn more about RAUN 2020http://ra-un.org/2020-raun-conference.html © RAUN

New Year’s Greetings from the Ban Ki-moon Centre and Happy BKMC Anniversary!

Today, January 3rd, 2020, marks the 3rd year and the 2nd anniversary of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens. By its co-founders, former Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon and former President of Austria Heinz Fischer, the Centre was established on this date in 2018 in Vienna, Austria. A BKMC Board Member, Ambassador Sadiq Marafi of the Embassy of Kuwait in Vienna, invited the team to his residence for New Year’s Eve and celebrated the year-end and welcomed the Centre’s new Chief Operating Officer Katrin Harvey. For the last two years, the Centre has made proud accomplishments and progress in advancing the SDGs through our co-chairs’ leadership, mediation, advocacy, and education. Through various projects, events and scholarship/fellowship/mentorship/training programs, the Ban Ki-moon Centre has aimed to empower youth and women, and we will try to empower more globally in the upcoming years to reach the Global Goals by 2030. To discuss the Centre’s upcoming plans and strategies, CEO Monika Froehler briefed the co-chairs on the progress made, and the BKMC leaders had an important planning session on New Year’s Day of 2020 in Vienna.

BKMC Holds the Reception marking the Launch #OrangeTheWorld Campaign in Austria

November 25 marks the International Day for the Eliminating of Violence against Women and the start of 16 Days of Activism to put an end to violence against women. Every year, the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens cooperates with UN Women Austria, Soroptimist International Austria and HeForShe Graz to implement the global #OrangeTheWorld Campaign in Austria to raise awareness of the fact that women around the world are subject to rape, domestic violence and other forms of violence. On November 25, BKMC successfully launched the campaign of 2019 in the Centre. Co-chair Heinz Fischer and CEO Monika Froehler delivered welcome remarks, while Co-chair Ban Ki-moon sent words of appreciation with a video message. Representatives of the co-organizers Eliette Thurn from Soroptimist International Austria and Marcela Muniz Pivaral from UN Women Austria stressed the urgency of raising awareness for this topic. Head of HeForShe Graz, Bernhard Gollob, moderated a panel discussion with representatives from Austrian Victim Support Groups, entities that are based in Austrian hospitals and that are essential for detecting and preventing violence against women. We were grateful to our partners without whom it would not be possible to achieve such a large-scale contribution on behalf of Austria to this global campaign. © BKMC / Eugenie Berger

BKMC Welcomes the Women’s Empowerment Program GCC Fellows!

“More than ever does the world need young female leaders like yourself to advocate for a sustainable future with a fresh and innovative mind,” said Co-chair Ban Ki-moon in his video message.
Together with the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens hosted a welcome reception for the fellows of the Women’s Empowerment Program GCC on November 11th, 2019.

“You will shine, and you will empower others to shine with you!” – CEO Monika Froehler

Co-chair Heinz Fischer warmly welcomed the crowd and briefly introduced the history of Austria as a former President of Austria, and BKMC CEO Monika Froehler and Deputy Director Susanne Keppler-Schlesinger of the Diplomatic Academy also delivered remarks on the first day of the program. 
“In these two weeks, you will further develop your skill-set to make sustainable development happen and to empower women globally,” said Monika Froehler during her welcome remarks.
H.E. Ambassador Marafi from the Embassy of Kuwait participated in the welcome reception to welcome and congratulate all the selected fellows from GCC regions. 20 aspiring fellows of WEP GCC gathered from Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. They will be participating in a 2-week tailor-made program to advance their global potential to promote the Sustainable Development Goals and foster women’s empowerment.   Watch a video diary of WEP GCC’s first day!  

BKMC Co-chair Ban Ki-moon delivered a keynote speech at the 6th Yoon Hoo-jung Unification Forum

On October 2, Co-chair Ban Ki-moon delivered a keynote speech at the 6th Yoon Hoo-jung Unification Forum held at Ewha Womans University ECC Lee Sam-bong Hall in Sinchon, Seoul.

“There is no ideology in diplomacy. There should be no politics involved in security.” – Ban Ki-moon

At the event titled “Unification of the Korean Peninsula in the World,” co-chair Ban explained the current international situation surrounding the Korean Peninsula, including the competition between the U.S. and China and North Korean nuclear. He also presented a direction for the right foreign and security policies. On peace and unification on the Korean Peninsula, co-chair Ban said,
“The Republic of Korea is currently placed at its biggest diplomatic and security crisis since the Korean War.”
Co-chair Ban also added that
“Peace unification on the Korean Peninsula can be achieved on the basis of diplomatic relations with neighboring states.”
Source Ewha Womans University  © Ewha Womans University  

Co-chair Ban Ki-moon speaks at World Knowledge Forum 2019

“The key to achieving sustainable development goals is embracing.”

Co-chair Ban Ki-moon made remarks during the 20th World Knowledge Forum under the theme of ‘Knowledge Revolution 5.0 – Perspicacity Towards Prosperity for All’ on September 26 in Seoul. At this event, Co-chair Ban Ki-moon said,  

“In the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), embracing is an important pillar.

The SDGs will not make any progress unless we embrace women, children, the disabled, refugees and other underprivileged people.”

Emphasizing the fact that there is a digital disparity where more than a half of world’s population does not have access to the Internet at this moment, Co-chair Ban said,

“Now, new technological approaches are taking place in an inclusive manner, and the government will have to innovate to achieve SDGs through public investment and research and development,”

The World Knowledge Forum, the one of largest annual business forum in Asia hosted by South Korea’s business media Maekyung Media Group, celebrated its 20th year conference starting from September 25th to September 27th in central Seoul, with a mission to bring unity to the growingly fractured and protectionist world. More than 250 leaders from political, economic, business and technology sectors are taking part at this year’s forum that will run under the theme of “Perspicacity towards Prosperity for All.” This year, including Steven Chen, Co-Founder of YouTube, Donald Johnston, the 4th Secretary-General of OECD, and Esko Aho, the 37th PM of Finland, other prominent delegates from WTO, the US State Department, JP Morgan, Samsung, Alibaba, and global universities such as Oxford University, Harvard and Stanford University attended the Forum. Sources: WKF2019 © MeaKyung Korea

“Promoting the SDGs in Europe with a Global Mindset”

The Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens hosted a breakout session in cooperation with the Federal Chancellery of the Republic of Austria (Bundeskanzleramt Österreich) at the Political and Legal Symposia at the European Forum Alpbach on August 25th, 2019.

Theme: “Promoting the SDGs in Europe with a Global Mindset”

Welcome remarks and a keynote were delivered by:
  • Brigitte Bierlein, Federal Chancellor of Austria
  • Heinz Fischer, Co-chair of the Ban Ki-moon Centre & 11th Federal President of Austria
  • Ban Ki-moon, Co-chair of the Ban Ki-moon Centre & 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations
During her welcome remarks, Chancellor Bierlein said that Austria is currently actively engaged in multilateral matters, mentioning the country’s ranking in the SDG Index for this year.
“One could certainly emphasize that in terms of the implementation of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Austria ranks among the top 5 countries worldwide,” said Bierlein.
“For the global policy for our planet,” Co-chair Heinz Fischer said that “the global governing programs are the SDGs.”
Fischer said that the Goals are interconnected and that they are based on human dignity, which is the most important matter for mankind. He said that achieving all these goals could be challenging but that “it is a necessary and important task.” Delivering a keynote, Co-chair Ban Ki-moon encouraged all national leaders to act as global leaders with a global citizenship mindset, which he said is a truly crucial asset for every individual to have in order to achieve sustainable development in a global society.
“These 17 Goals offer us a way to confront the most critical issues of our time,” he said, “the opportunities to change the world for the better are all in our hands.”
The panel consisted of:
As a moderator of the Session, BKMC CEO Monika Froehler asked the panelists their points of view on the Session topic as well as suggestions for achieving the SDGs. Minister Patek said that the European Union as a whole performs well on the implementation of the SDGs. She pointed out that some of the elements of the success include an effective state system beyond borders, the engagement with active NGOs, and the provision of an environment for a prosperous life. Lamy said that the real quality of the SDGs is the supply of countable goals to civil society to foster the expectation towards political and economic leaders, agreeing to what Ban has emphasized during his keynote. To fight the most pressing global challenge, climate crisis, Frischmann said that managing refrigeration and stopping leakage in air conditioners and fridges may serve as the most effective way that individuals can contribute to. The audience also got actively engaged in the conversations by participating in the Mentimeter presentation that reflected their answers to questions in real-time and by raising critical questions. Some of the discussion topics included what are the local and global solutions for curbing climate change and how to engage most for the SDGs. Watch the recorded live stream: https://www.facebook.com/BanKimoonCentre/videos/724752221309832/ © EFA / Iryna Yeroshko & BKMC / Eugenie Berger