Ban Ki-moon in conversation with die Furche: “We need more Global Citizens”

The Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens Co-chair Ban Ki-moon was interviewed by Die Furche for its January Edition about the impact the United Nations had during his upbringing in Korea, his time as United Nations Secretary-General, his expectations for President-Elect Joe Biden, and how the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, Paris Climate Agreement and Global Citizenship are the road maps to achieve a better future for all.

Read the full English version below.

Access the full German Version here:

2021.1a Ban Ki-moon ITV 

2021.1b Ban Ki-moon ITV


“We need more Global Citizens”

Die Furche, 7 January 2021

1. Former UN Secretary General, may I start with a personal question: You come from a country that has been divided by war to this day – how did that shape you for your later role as the world’s top peacemaker and peacekeeper? 

When I was born before the end of the Second World War, everybody was poor. Soon after, South Korea was attacked by North Korea. At that time, the United Nations had sent troops and humanitarian aid. As a child growing up during the Korean War my family received food ratios and I studied with either kerosene lamps or with candlelight from schoolbooks that were provided by UNESCO. These are my first memories of the UN. Later it was the United Nations’ efforts that substantially helped rebuild and recover South Korea from the Korean War. Observing the incredible impact of the UN in supporting a divided country and assisting on the road to peace and prosperity has influenced me in my various roles. On many occasions, I have emphasized the importance of multilateralism in peacekeeping and I still believe in the role of the United Nations and the other global players in steering the peace between North and South Korea.

In the first months of this year, while the number of individuals infected by the virus and death tolls rose sharply, many trivialized Covid-19 by comparing it to the annual wave of influenza. On the other hand, others over-dramatized the situation and overstated the actual number of victims. Slowly, a more realistic picture has emerged.

2. 75 years after the end of the Second World War, 75 years after the founding of the United Nations, with the aim of “saving future generations from the scourge of war”, it looks in many places as if politicians and peoples have become “tired of peace”. Do you share this impression and how can the willingness to work for peace be rekindled?

Yes – in 2020 the UN was celebrating its 75th anniversary. It has been a great privilege for me to serve as Secretary-General of the United Nations for two terms. My motto was that I will make this “most impossible job”, as the first UNSG Trygvie Lie said, into a “possible mission.” I have been trying this during my ten years tenure, devoting all my time, passion and energy.

But frankly speaking we need to have much more sense of unity and collaboration amongst states of the world, much more global solidarity and compassion. The unanimous adoption of the 2030 Agenda by the 193 UN member states and the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015 were steps in the right direction. This still gives me hope. The Sustainable Development Goals provide a clear path towards creating equal, prosperous, and peaceful societies around the globe. By pledging to implement the global goals by 2030, governments, businesses, civil society, and academia are showing their will to join forces in the fight against poverty, hunger, inequality, corruption, human rights abuses and climate change to achieve a peaceful world.  

This is therefore not the time to be “tired of peace”, on the contrary, it is the time to recommit to the UN Charter and Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement for our future generations.

3. In a CNBC interview, you were unusually harshly on trial with today’s generation of politicians. You said: “I do not have much expectation on current global leaders – they are all aiming for short time political gains – this is shameful.” Why is that so? How can we as society counteract this? Or is the saying true: people get the politicians they deserve? 

Solidarity, empathy, and cooperation are the foundations on which societies can thrive. Especially in times of crisis, global leaders must portray these values and work together in the common interest of all humanity. However, today we see global leaders who have lost their focus and who do not base their policies on inclusive human rights. We see leaders who are favouring personal interest and profit over the well-being and safety of their own people.

To counteract destructive, exploitative, and unsustainable policies we need to empower a generation of politicians who are passionate and compassionate global citizens and who are living up to leaving no one behind. We can only create these leaders by fostering Global Citizenship Education and by promoting knowledge about the Sustainable Development Goals. The global citizenship mindset encompasses global citizen values, knowledge about the sustainable development goals and their implementation and 21st century skills.

4. In 1962 you took a trip to Washington, D.C. for an English competition. A meeting with US President John F. Kennedy during this trip led you, according to your biography, to become a diplomat. Almost 60 years later: Do you think the incoming US President Biden could also motivate young people to stand up for diplomacy and cooperation worldwide?

I will always cherish the memory of this trip to the US as a young man, meeting JFK. It was a turning point in my life. I do believe the new President-elect of the US, Joe Biden will also be an inspiration to a lot of young people around the world. Not only will he motivate youth to stand up for inclusive policies and international cooperation but once President-elect Joe Biden renews America’s commitment to Paris Climate Agreement, he also has a unique role to turn climate ambition into global climate action for the new generation. Also, by joining forces with Kamala Harris as the first female Vice President-elect, he has set an example for inclusive policies and that anything is possible. Despite facing so many challenges at the start of their term, I believe they can inspire next generations, influence their ambition and commitment to make this a better future for all.

5. And beyond that – what do you expect from President Biden and his administration for international cooperation in general and for the United Nations in particular?

The promise of President-elect Joe Biden to re-join the Paris Climate Agreement, as he takes office on 20 January 2021, will hopefully not only restore faith in the United States as an international team player, but will also strengthen cooperation with the United Nations. Not abandoning a commitment made 5 years ago and valuing fundamental rights and freedoms in their international leadership role, will result in the revival of the importance of the US in multilateralism, striving towards global solutions for global challenges.

6. In 2021 we hope to get the health effects of the Covid-19 pandemic under control with vaccinations – what lessons should the global community learn from Corona, in particular for global solidarity and cooperation?

The Covid-19 pandemic hit the global community unexpectedly hard. The pandemic exacerbated existing challenges such as climate change, humanitarian crises, widening disparity and strengthening authoritarian regimes. The tasks we are now facing are enormous, but not impossible to achieve if we work together and act in solidarity. The key notions that matter during and after the pandemic are cooperation, solidarity, responsibility, discipline, and compassion for the most vulnerable. The global situation also requires a strong commitment by all stakeholders to the Agenda 2030 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Covid-19 sheds light on the many profound inequalities that persist on our planet. Therefore, the verbal and theoretical commitments to solidarity must also be reflected in concrete actions supporting vulnerable groups such as refugees, migrants and racial minorities.

It is up to us to chart the right course for a better future for all. The pandemic showed us that we all have a responsibility as global citizens to stay vigilant. If the global community can show courage and empathic leadership today, we will all benefit from it by being equipped with tools to tackle equally grave challenges tomorrow.

7. I started with a personal question. May I end the conversation with another one: How was the feeling when you were no longer UN Secretary-General on the first day and the pressure was gone: Pride? Disappointment? Relief? 

Whatever successes or achievements there may be associated to my tenure, they are the outcome of joint efforts – not by me alone. The Secretary-General, however capable or willing, cannot achieve anything alone. No single country or person can do it alone without support. In that regard, I am deeply grateful to UN´s dedicated staff an all the partners around the globe, who have been working day and night – in many cases, in very dangerous circumstances. Without their hard work, we would not have achieved the Paris Agreement on climate change, we would not have had the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Both compounds serve as blueprints for humankind efforts towards the path to peace, prosperity and to building sustainable societies, a greener economy, and empowering the most vulnerable, leaving no one behind.

During my ten years serving as Secretary-General of the United Nations, I was always guided by four principals: setting priorities, never giving up, focusing on the people, and standing up for those who are left behind. No longer the Secretary-General, I am still guided by these principals. I continue my work by advocating the mindset of global citizenship and the importance of multilateralism.


Ban Ki-moon Global Citizen Scholars 2020 – Closing Ceremony

On December 15, 2020, the Ban Ki-moon Global Citizen Scholarship Program 2020’s Closing Ceremony took place. The BKMC, together with RELX & University of Bordeaux awarded, six extraordinary African Global Citizen Scholars – Akosua PepraOduor Kevin, Hikmat Baba Dua, Tafadzwa Sachikonye, Barbara Nakijoba, and Ruvimbo Samangafor successfully completing the scholarship program and implementing outstanding SDG Micro-Projects in their communities 

The Ceremony was opened by Co-chair Ban Ki-moon, who greeted participants in a video statement and welcomed the scholars to the alumni family of the BKMC, expressing support and gratitude for the scholars’ contributions to the Agenda 2030: More than ever the world needs young leaders like yourselves. It makes me proud that you have chosen to be ambassadors of global citizenship and that we can consider you as a valued member of the BKMC family. 

Márcia Balisciano, Global Head of Corporate Responsibility at RELX Group and a valued member of the BKMC Board, also addressed the audience.  Márcia Balisciano expressed RELX’s enthusiasm for funding the Ban Ki-moon Global Citizen Scholarship Program 2020 while sharing exciting news, We are thrilled to have participated in this program and we would like to announce that we would like to fund this program again next year.”  

BKMC CEO Monika Froehler also congratulated the scholars and emphasized the impact they have created with their projects: This is exactly what a global citizen mindset is about: global citizen values and 21st-century skills. We are honored that we had the chance to have worked with you.  

The University of Bordeaux, represented by Vice President for External Relations Stéphanie Debette, shared her words of congratulations and also positive feedback from professors at the university who mentored the scholars during their SDG Micro-project implementation.

The highlight of the ceremony was the presentations by our GC scholars where they shared the impact they have created in their communities. 

To improve the livelihoods of widows and orphans involved in farming, GC Scholar Akosua Pepra developed the SDG Micro-Project “Climate Resilient Agriculture for Widows and Orphans in Rural Communities in Ghana” (SDGs 1, 2, 5 and 13).  


Barbara Nakijoba, deeply passionate about youth empowerment, conceptualized the “Youth take the lead”  in the Rugaba Division in Uganda to create a more peaceful society by reducing crime by 2021 (SDG 16). 


Action4Periods by Hikmat Baba Dua, created a safe space for 60 women and girls in rural communities in Mbanaailiy (Ghana) by engaging elders, women and girls to discuss the stigma of menstrual hygiene and produced 60-70 reusable pads, improving access to menstrual products (SDG 3, 4, 5 and 13).  


 

GC scholar Oduor Kevin founded INFO4FOOD, as he realized that food waste was dumped on the roads by vendors contributing to environmental degradation. With his project he prevented post-harvest losses, reaching 87 households in Kenya.


 

Ruvimbo Samanga’s project Agrispace, helps farmers in Zimbabwe gather missing agricultural data by using satellite technology to monitor agricultural productivity, leading to more sustainable and climate-resilient practices. The program can map different agricultural zones providing soil data, weather soil analysis, and monitoring crop health and irrigation, allowing farmers to have better time and yield tools for crops. Agrispace contributes to many SDGs, particularly SDG 2 for “zero hunger” and target 2.1.2 for “food insecurity”.


Tafadzwa Sachikonye raised public and private awareness for improved urban wastewater system in Zimbabwe with her project Waterclix for sustainable urban water systems in Zimbabwe (SDG 6 and also 3, 5, 13).  

   

In the last part of the evening, Program Officer Julia Zimmerman awarded the scholars with their certificate of achievement, and Co-chair Heinz Fischer offered closing remarks, commending all GC scholars 2020 on their efforts, You showed resilience, passion and transformed challenges into opportunities. 

We want to congratulate all of our GC scholars 2020! We are immensely proud of the results of your hard work and look forward to seeing what you do next! Additionally, we want to thank our partners RELX Group and the University of Bordeaux again for their wonderful support and collaboration for the program this year! 

Turning challenges into opportunities – Global Citizen Scholars engage in inspiring talk with Arrey Obenson, CEO of Transformunity

 

Last week, our current Global Citizen Scholars and Alumni from the program had the chance to attend an expert workshop with Arrey Obenson, CEO of Transformunity. Transformunity is a consulting company that tackles the opportunities of organizations, drawing on expertise in movement building and citizens engagement to accelerate positive change and sustainable development for a better future.

Based on his experiences from the past 20 years, Arrey shared his personal theory of change, kicking off the workshop with an inspiring speech on how we can choose between two roles when we approach challenges: spectator or actor. He emphasized that only one role will lead to finding solutions and living a prosperous life.

“I choose to be an actor rather than a spectator. I see life as a stage where we have a choice to be in the audience cheering others on or can use the opportunity to play a role”.

During the workshop, Arrey prepared a thought-provoking exercise for our scholars and alumni and asked them to write down what challenges they saw standing in the way of their success. Afterwards he asked them to determine opportunities within those challenges.

We all know how incredibly challenging this year has been, as our realities were significantly altered by the global pandemic Covid-19. But as Arrey and our global citizen scholars discussed, the crisis has also brought with it many opportunities, including new ways of learning through increased access to online education globally as well as opportunities for international cooperation and gatherings without burdening our resources, both in the financial sense as well as the environmental sense. These are just a few of the opportunities that were shared.

Instead of focusing on challenges alone, Arrey advocated looking at the possible opportunities and solutions. Arrey exemplified Africa as a case where challenges often overshadow the opportunities in the global dialogue. However, he sees so many opportunities! To Arrey, it is a “land of a billion opportunities”, vastly rich in 1.2 billion human resources.

Moreover, he illustrated how his theory has proven successful in his own work. After the outbreak of Covid-19 in Cameroon, Transformunity organized a massive education campaign on health and wellness: “Covid-19 was the challenge, but the opportunity was to build resilience in Cameroonian communities against infectious diseases”.

To conclude his presentation, Arrey encouraged everyone to turn every challenge into an opportunity.

Following the workshop, the scholars had the chance for peer-to-peer exchange with the alumni of the scholarship program who joined the call. After a round of introductions, the scholars were sorted into breakout rooms to connect and network.

At the end of the breakout room rotations, Program Officer Julia, thanked the scholars for their participation and shared ways for them to stay in contact!

We are very excited to celebrate the closing of this year’s scholarship program on December 15th! Stay tuned for information for how you can join the virtual event and watch our scholars present their SDG Micro-Projects!

Second Expert Workshop with our Global Citizen Scholars!

“Start small, start with something and have trust that it will grow.”

Zoe Kelland

This week, our Global Citizen Scholars had the opportunity to attend their 2nd Expert Workshop hosted by the BKMC featuring Zoe Kelland, Digital Campaigns Director at Global Citizen.

During the workshop, Zoe shared her experiences working with both Global Citizen and her own NGO Nakuru Children’s Project in Kenya and offered advice on how to scale a movement. She also had the opportunity to hear from each scholar about their own SDG Micro-Project for their communities.

During her presentation, Zoe shared some background information about Global Citizen, including their mission and the tools they use to activate over 4 million global citizens around the world.

Zoe also highlighted the organization’s tremendous impact over its’s 10-years of existence.

Additionally, to illustrate the way that Global Citizen works, Zoe exemplified a case-study in Sub-Saharan Africa where 1 in 10 girls miss school during their menstrual cycles. In 2018, Global Citizen organized a massive music festival in Johannesburg, South Africa in honor of Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday. In the lead-up to the festival, Global Citizens sent 86,000 emails and 22,000 tweets to the South African Government demanding removal of the tax on sanitary products, funding for adequate sanitation in schools, and the provision of quality menstrual hygiene education for boys and girls. As a result, President Ramaphosa appeared on the stage during the festival and committed to taking action to provide sanitary products to girls with vulnerable backgrounds across the country.

Zoe also shared a bit about her NGO Nakuru Children’s Project in Kenya. Nakuru works in partnership with government schools to support vulnerable children through every stage of their education: providing free school meals; building classrooms; paying their school fees; and establishing extra support for children with special needs.

Since its founding over 10 years ago, Nakuru Children’s Project has directly impacted an estimated 2,000 children — through providing 330,000 free school meals; sponsoring 148 kids through secondary school; building 20 classrooms and other facilities; and creating a special needs unit where 42 children now learn.

To conclude her presentation, Zoe offered her advice for how to scale a movement:

  • Find a gap in the Market
  • Make it accessible
  • Tap into influencers
  • Use the power of storytelling
  • Start small and it will grow

To learn more about Global Citizen visit: https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/

To learn more about Nakuru Children’s project: https://www.nakuruchildrensproject.org.uk/

The second BKMC x UNESCO APCEIU collaborative online course is now available on GCED Online Campus!

Today on February 21st, 2020, the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens is pleased to officially launch its second collaborative online course with UNESCO APCEIU on GCED Online Campus. Those who are interested in learning about the issues surrounding gender equality and how to effectively tackle the issues and contribute to empowering women and girls are cordially invited to take the course. This course provides global citizens an opportunity to learn from global leaders, experts and advocates from across sectors: international organizations, universities, NGOs, governments, and corporations. While our first course introduced the overall concept of global citizenship and the SDGs, our second course focuses on the topics of gender equality and women’s empowerment with a combination of the series of lectures by renowned international experts on concepts, theories and thematic areas, interviews with scholars, UN representatives, change makers, case presentations of innovative approaches and practices by global citizens all around the world. Understanding the 5th SDG – the multifaceted issues around it and the efforts put forth worldwide to achieve it – is the foundation for this course. Particularly, the course aims to examine and critically reflect on the revolving issues around both gender equality and women’s empowerment with sustainable development by providing a platform where learners can virtually meet and learn from one another. It brings a critical eye to gender inequality and how it is addressed in the field of sustainable development. Learners will be able to deepen their understanding of gender equality and women’s empowerment, exchange and embrace different perspectives, and challenge their own assumptions. The course invites those who see themselves as global citizens as well as who aspire to assume active roles in bringing meaningful changes to oneself and so the society they are in. “Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: A Pathways to Sustainable Development” is comprised of five modules: (1) Introduction to Gender Equality and Women’s Rights (2) Gender Equality in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (3) Women’s Empowerment (4) Critical Issues on Gender Equality (5) Plan for Action Paving the Way to Equality After completing all courses, students will received a Certificate issued by UNESCO APCEIU and the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens. Requirements for the completion are as followed: 1) Watch all lectures / videos 2) Participate in Form / Discussion 3) Take a quiz 4) Final Assignment 5) Course Evaluation Please invite those around you, who see themselves as global citizens as well as who aspire to assume active roles in bringing meaningful changes to oneself and to global society! Register HERE.

Co-chair Ban Ki-moon’s acceptance speech for Sunhak Peace Prize

Speech by Co-chair Ban Ki-moon

Sunhak Peace Prize 

Seoul, Korea

5 February 2020

 

Thank you for your warm introduction.

Dr. Hak Ja Han, Universal Peace Federation Founder,

Sunhak Peace Prize Foundation Members,

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

It is my great privilege to stand before you this evening and humbly accept the 2020 Sunhak Peace Prize.

I’m incredibly grateful for this esteemed honor, and it is quite meaningful to follow in the footsteps of the previous luminary awardees you have bestowed this honor upon.

My special recognition goes to Dr. Hak Ja Han for her visionary patronage of this award, as well as for her longtime advocacy efforts in support of world peace, global citizenship, and sustainable development issues.

I also take this opportunity to commend the impressive work and forward-thinking vision of the Sunhak Peace Prize Foundation.

The critical efforts by the Sunhak Peace Prize Foundation are essential as we collectively strive to expand essential understanding, cooperation, and tolerance on the road to world peace and global sustainability.

In this connection, I simply couldn’t be more proud to receive this award intended to further the ideals of such a pioneering individual who so firmly believed in the importance of peace, human development, coexistence, and environmental protection.

My deepest gratitude goes to the Sunhak Peace Prize Foundation Members for this very special honor.

 

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our world is changing and this is bringing many new challenges and uncertainties to the geopolitical and economic order.

Multilateral cooperation is viewed with increasing skepticism just as the world needs it the most. Human rights are under threat as nationalism spreads. Development and humanitarian funds are being slashed.

And our climate crisis is deepening as wildfires burn, sea levels rise higher, and temperatures continue to surge.

Under this backdrop of instability and waning internationalism, I firmly believe that we must work together through expanded partnerships and cooperation, as well a driving commitment to global citizenship, to cope with these seemingly insurmountable challenges.

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

This was critical in bringing the entire world together to agree to the UN’s 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the Paris Climate Agreement.

These were two of my biggest achievements leading the UN as they provide humanity, and our planet, with a collaborative blueprint to ensure the future we want.

And global partnerships, including the active participation of nonprofit organizations, civil society groups, religious organizations, philanthropists, and other key stakeholders like you, are necessary if we are to deliver on the United Nations’ development and climate commitments.

But to establish long-term solutions, achieve world peace, and save our rapidly warming planet, we need inclusive and participatory action from all global citizens.

This includes, especially, young people, as they are absolutely essential to solving so many of the world’s challenges such as achieving the SDGs, tackling climate change, and building peace and resolving conflicts.

As such, I’ve been trying my best to help elevate global citizenship as a driving vision for young, transformative leaders to help us forge a more peaceful and sustainable world.

In this regard, two years ago I launched the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens, based in Vienna, Austria to help provide young people and women with a greater say in their own destiny, as well as a greater stake in their own dignity.

 

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The actions we take in the next ten years will be critical to ensure the future viability of both humanity and our planet. So we must work hard to illuminate true peace.

What type of peace? I am reminded of the words of President John F. Kennedy who said, “I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and hope and build a better life for their children …not merely peace in our time, but peace for all time.”

In 2020, the year of the rat, and beyond, we all share a common destiny grounded in sustainability, peace, and prosperity. Let’s expand our unified efforts to realize this shared destiny for all global citizens in the years to come.

I thank you for your attention and this great honor.

Co-chair Ban Ki-moon gives a special lecture at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

“Nature is sending us a strong warning: we must listen to its voice. Nature does not negotiate; it does not wait for us. Unless we work together as one, we will never be able to fight climate change.”  – Co-chair Ban Ki-moon
On January 31, Co-chair Ban Ki-moon gave a special lecture on the topic of “Addressing Climate Change and Air Pollution in Asia-Pacific” as a part of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)’s Distinguished Person Lecture Series. The special lecture was opened with UN ESCAP Executive Secretary Armida Alisjahbana’s opening remark.
“In Asia-Pacific, it is our historic opportunity to consider how we can be a solution-provider, raise ambition and take transformative action in response to the climate crisis.”
In his lecture, Co-chair Ban Ki-moon expressed his concerns on the gravity of climate change. To warn that we are running out to time, he referenced the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s report, which reported that we are left with only 12 years to make a massive and unprecedented change to mitigate the consequences of global temperature rise to its moderate levels. Moving on, Co-chair Ban underscored the deadly health hazards resulted from air pollution as a global challenge. He said,
“There is clear evidence that links particulate matters to various illnesses such as respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and even cancer.”
He also referred to the findings of the World Health Organization (WHO) that 92% of the Asia-Pacific population – roughly 4 billion people – are already exposed to high levels of air pollution. He noted how these two serious matters are linked together and are like two sides of the same coin. He said,
“Not only they share similar emission sources, but they also influence and exacerbate each other.”
Despite the complexity of these issues, Co-chair Ban showed a sense of optimism.
“Fortunately, the close link between the two challenges means that collective action can maximize impact effectiveness. The intertwined nature of the two challenges also means that effective action cannot be pursued separately. Joint action is an absolute must.”
During his speech, Co-chair Ban commended the efforts and actions taken by the UN ESCAP in adopting the resolution on ‘strengthening regional cooperation to tackle air pollution challenges in Asia and the Pacific’. Moreover, he spoke highly of Italy for taking the first step in making climate change mandatory in early education, and said,
“Last year, we witnessed the power of a single young person. After hearing Greta Thunberg, I’m emphasizing quality education on environment for young people. When they are educated, they will be equipped with leadership and ready to take action.”
As he concluded his lecture, Co-chair Ban said,
“This decade will be the final decade where we can turn the tide against the irreversible destruction of our climate. If we miss that deadline, ALL of us will meet the consequences. A ‘me versus you’ mentality has no meaning in climate action. Remember, that it should be ‘us versus climate change’.”
  Watch the full lecture Source Ban Ki-moon Foundation for a Better Future  © UN ESCAP

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  

Op-Ed by Ban Ki-moon: “A new generation of global citizens gives hope to humanity”

Ban Ki-moon, Special to Gulf News

I was recently in Dubai for a Model United Nations conference where students from across the United Arab Emirates gathered to participate in simulated sessions of the UN Security Council to address key issues that directly impact the world we live in. The title of the conference was ‘Challenges of Intervention in a Complex World’. Our world is complex, yes, and it faces unprecedented global challenges that require unprecedented global responses.
Maintaining peace is invariably challenging given there are always many sides to any issue. Conflicts and wars run the risk of becoming protracted, and dialogue often slows things down. When inflammatory words are used, angers flare and emotions go unchecked. The risks to humanity and the world as we know it must always be at the forefront of any decision. Dialogue, if used correctly, can play a crucial role. Agreements can be formed.
Take, for example, the 2016 Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which was backed by more than 200 governments after a process of dialogue. Strong international support and unwavering commitment was reflected in the consensus of governments around the world that robust global cooperation — and action — was essential to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects.

Students’ leadership skills

In Dubai, I was hugely impressed by the young men and women I met. Their passion for the world and its future was clear to see as each sought to find realistic solutions to some of the biggest issues facing our planet. Finding solutions that are acceptable to a majority of representatives requires incredible skills of negotiation, conflict resolution and cooperation. I was interested to see what leadership skills these students would portray and if they would explore solutions that world governments, NGOs and others might not have thought of before.
Ban Ki-moon
Former UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon addresses a Model United Nations conference in Dubai recently. Image Credit: Supplied

“The best advice I can give students, who could one day be our leaders, is to always consider each person’s point of view and find dialogue that takes everyone’s needs into consideration.” – Ban Ki-moon

As the conference got under way there were reports circulating of an escalating crisis between the US and Iran. Fortunately, the crisis is now de-escalating, and dialogue is the only way to resolve it going forward to ensure permanent solutions are found. Forging an international consensus, at the best of times, is not simple, and even harder when tension sets in.
The best advice I can give these students, who could one day be our leaders, is to always consider each person’s point of view and find dialogue that takes everyone’s needs into consideration. For that, they must be armed not with weapons or threats, but with two key traits — passion and compassion.

Global citizens

When I left the United Nations, I founded the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens based in Vienna along with Heinz Fischer, former president of Austria. The centre focuses on the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals for empowering women and youth. Gender equality and quality education are critically important for the future of our planet. The reason is that women make up half of the world’s population, while half of the world’s population is also under the age of 25. Yet, despite best efforts, in many developing countries, primary, secondary and tertiary education for girls remains a challenge. Currently 264 million children are not at school, and a majority of them are girls. The world is also home to the largest generation of youth ever, with 1.8 billion young people worldwide. Nearly 90 per cent of which live in developing countries. More than 70 million youth are currently unemployed, and around 40 per cent of the world’s active youth are either jobless or living in poverty — despite working. As we all know, unemployment breeds many problems, ranging from inequality and crime to terrorism.
It is up to us as individuals to go out into the world and work for the betterment of humankind. To be a global citizen and act with passion and compassion so we can make the world a safer and more sustainable place for generations to come.
The youth I encountered in Dubai gave me hope, and filled me with great pride, that together we can make a difference and drive change. A brighter future depends on global citizens like you.
— Ban Ki-moon is 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations and Co-founder of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens.
Original source: https://gulfnews.com/opinion/op-eds/a-new-generation-of-global-citizens-gives-hope-to-humanity-1.69230614#

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