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, KuwaitDear 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.