Mobilising to Advance the SDGs – A Joint Event and Interactive Panel

On March 3, the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens together with European Union Delegation in Vienna (Twitter: @euunvie), Joint SDG Fund (Twitter: @JointSDGFund), and The OPEC Fund for International Development (Twitter: @TheOPECFund) hosted a panel discussion on the successes and challenges of mobilising to advance the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda.

The event was opened by His Excellency Ambassador Stephan Klement, EU Ambassador and Head of Delegation of the European Union to the International Organisations in Vienna. Followed by the warm welcome from Deputy Head of Representation of the European Commission in Austria, Wolfgang Bogensberger.

Co-chair Heinz Fischer delivered opening remarks before the panel discussion. Sharing his personal experience of his presidency of the Republic of Austria, he emphasised the importance of cooperation to achieve the SDGs.

Co-chair Heinz Fischer went on to talk about the previous Millenium Development Goals and how the Sustainable Development Goals developed, integrating lessons learned from the MDGs. Co-chair Heinz Fischer did not hesitate to also mention the difficulties when it comes to the implementation of the SDGs.

“Even if the the SDGs might not be entirely perfect, they are currently the best instrument to indicate the diverse situations of each country and stress that each country must do its share to achieve a world in which peace and prosperity is a given, leaving no one behind.”

In subsequence, the panel discussion, moderated by Ms. Mona Khalil, provided more detail on how international institutions mobilise to advance the SDGs. The speakers included

  • Ms. Katrin Harvey, Chief Operating Officer, Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens
  • Mr. Gautam Babbar, Chief of Strategic Planning and Interagency Affairs, United Nations
  • Mr. Walid Mehalaine, Head, Grants and Technical Assistance Unit, OPEC Fund

It became evident, that the organizations concentrate on strategically investing their efforts and resources in projects and programs that promise the biggest impact to advance the SDGs. Nevertheless, the speakers highlighted that the impact of any project remains minimal if the commitment of national governments towards the SDGs is limited. The annual 2.5 trillion USD funding gap that continues to exist needs to be tackled through multilateral partnerships if the SDGs are to be achieved by 2030.

In the Q&A session, following the panel discussion, the audience showed through interactive and dynamic engagement that the SDGs are a priority issue, not only for international organizations but also for academia, the private sector and civil society actors.

We thank our partners for the fruitful cooperation that made this event a success!

Co-chair Ban Ki-moon joins the SDG Academy’s edX online course “Conversations with Global Leaders.”

Today, BKMC Co-chair Ban Ki-moon, former Secretary-General of United Nations, joined a Live Conversation in The SDG Academy edX Online Course “Conversations with Global Leaders.”
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During the live interview, Co-chair Ban talked about “The Importance of Global-Setting” with Professor Jeffrey Sachs, who also is a BKMC Board member.

The SDG Academy edX Online Course “Conversations with Global Leaders” is an initiative created by the United Nations Sustainable Development Social Network (UN SDSN), and this course aims to provide insights into questions about effective and inclusive leadership in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development such as Are good leaders born or are they made? What are the essential skills and strategies required when they must make tough decisions that impact global policies, people and our planet?

Throughout this course, professor Jeffrey Sachs, a BKMC Board member, interviews inspiring global leaders about an overarching theme that reflects the individual’s unique and diverse insights on the leadership necessary to create national and global movements towards sustainable development, including combating climate change, promoting and preserving human rights and ensuring peace and prosperity for all.

 

Click the photo to watch the Live Conversation.

 

BKMC CEO Monika Froehler meets with IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi

On February 18th, BKMC CEO Monika Froehler made an official visit to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna and met with IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi.


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During this meeting, CEO Monika Froehler and Program Officer Julia Zimmerman briefed IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi and his team on the works of BKMC and discussed potential avenues of cooperation, particularly related to education and the empowerment of women.
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© Dean Calma / IAEA

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

 

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

 

Co-chair Ban Ki-moon attends Brookings’ Alan and Jane Batkin International Leaders Forum

“We must educate the next generation in global citizenship. We must increase their understanding of climate change because they are our future leaders.”

On January 24, Co-chair Ban Ki-moon attended and spoke at the Alan and Jane Batkin International Leaders Forum hosted by Foreign Policy at Brookings Institute.

During this occasion, Co-chair Ban addressed the climate threats and its implications, climate justice, and climate leadership. In his international leadership roles, Co-chair Ban has been a prominent advocate of bringing climate change to the top of the global agenda, promoting sustainable development and highlighting how environmental degradation has disproportionately affected people in developing countries, especially women.

Stressing the importance of multilateralism, Co-chair Ban said,

“A ‘me vs. you’ mentality has no place in climate action. It is about ‘all of us vs. climate change’.”

He also said,

“If we do not solve the problem of climate change we will all be losers. I urge President Trump to return to the Paris Agreement.”

“We need disruption. We need to get urgent on climate. We need a new sense of global citizenship”

He also called world leaders and young generation to harness the mindset of global citizenship to cope of global challenges.

Mary Robinson, Chair of The Elders and former President of Ireland, said,

“The climate crisis must be the top priority for all leaders in 2020. It is not hyperbole to say that the fate of humanity as a whole rests on decisions taken this year.”

The event was opened with Brookings Vice President and Director of Foreign Policy Bruce Jones’ introductory remarks. Following remarks by Co-chair Ban and Chair of The Elders Mary Robinson, Brookings Senior Fellow and the SK-Korea Foundation Chair in Korea Studies Jung H. Pak joined them on stage for a conversation on climate change, human rights, adaptation measures, and global leadership in the face of a climate emergency.

Climate threats and climate justice: Action and adaptation for sustainable development – Part 1

Climate threats and climate justice: Action and adaptation for sustainable development – Part 2

© Ralph Alswang / Alswang Photography

Co-chair Ban Ki-moon’s Speech at the 2020 Doomsday Clock Announcement Event

Speech by Co-chair Ban Ki-moon

The 2020 Doomsday Clock Announcement

Washington, US

January 23, 2020

 

Thank you Mary, and thank you to Governor Brown, Rachel Bronson and all the team at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and all the distinguished guests gathered here today.

As Mary Robinson has said, it is an honor to be here today to unveil the Doomsday Clock. But is with a solemn sense of duty, with a moral responsibility, and with a frightening sense of what is happening.

These are perilous times. The alarming rise in tensions in the Middle East threatens war, and a return to nuclear weapons development in Iran. The world waits to see how North Korea will respond to stalled negotiations over its nuclear ambitions. I am struck by the news released from North Korea that it would not be committed to previously made commitments, to nuclear disarmament, and the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. This is surprising and very, very shocking. Also, the situation in Kashmir between nuclear-armed Pakistan and India remains unpredictable and highly dangerous.

Such tensions demand responsible global leadership, but instead over the last year we have seen precisely the opposite. We have seen the termination of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, division and uncertainty regarding the upcoming Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and, most worryingly, the absence of any meaningful negotiations between the US and Russia to extend New START.

It would send a deeply negative message to the world if New START is allowed to expire in February 2021. This would not only eliminate remaining constraints on deployed nuclear arsenals, but also remove the monitoring and inspection capabilities which have provided both sides with increased transparency regarding nuclear capability.

On the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, The Elders believe the world must seize the opportunities presented by the review conference that begins in April. This treaty is the backbone of the multilateral consensus on nuclear arms control, and yet disagreements and frustrations between its signatories mean there is a significant risk that the conference could conclude without an agreed outcome – a scenario that would undermine the treaty and could even trigger withdrawal by member states.

Alongside the potential expiry of New START, this is a disastrous scenario for the world. It exemplifies the failures of global leadership, and the weakness of the multilateral system in the face of isolationist politics that sees diplomacy as a zero-sum game rather than a means of finding common solutions to common challenges.

At a time when world leaders should be focused on the clear and present dangers of nuclear escalation and the climate emergency, we are instead witnessing denial, disregard and dangerous brinkmanship.

The existential risks of climate change and nuclear war are increasing just as the decision-making frameworks to address them are unravelling. From the Paris Agreement to the JCPOA; despondency over the Non Proliferation Treaty to impotency at the UN Security Council – our mechanisms for collaboration are being undermined when we need them most.

To echo Mary Robinson – we must see urgent action on the climate crisis in 2020. All countries must come to COP in Glasgow in November with clear plans for delivering carbon net-zero commitments by 2050. We must see an immediate end to the investment in, and exploration of, fossil fuels. We must heed the demands of the young people on our streets and listen to the science.

We cannot negotiate with nature. We must listen to the warning of nature.

The US must somehow begin to demonstrate leadership at the federal level too. Without it, we cannot hope to meet the targets that will keep global warming to manageable levels. Without US leadership there will be no winners from this climate crisis, only losers.

In the end, we will only overcome these existential threats by working together, and to do so the world needs to re-energize multilateralism. I do believe there is an opportunity for this in the coming year.

2020 marks 75 years since the end of Second World War and the birth of the nuclear age – and, indeed, the founding of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. It also marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations.

This is an opportunity for the world to renew its commitment to multilateralism. It is a time for world leaders to bring a new mindset to the key moments ahead of us in 2020 – to create the foundations for a just transition to a carbon net zero economy and redouble the efforts towards a world free of nuclear weapons.

We can overcome the existential threats we face, but we must act, together, now. No country, no individual, no matter how powerful or how many resources, can do this on their own. We need to hold hands and work together.

Thank you.

Mary Robinson and Ban Ki-moon make announcements at the 2020 Doomsday Clock event

“There is an opportunity in 2020 for the world to renew its commitment to multilateralism – to create the foundations for a just transition to a carbon net zero economy, and redouble our efforts towards a world free of nuclear weapons,” said Co-chair Ban Ki-moon.

On January 23, together with Mary Robinson, Chair of The Elders and former President of Ireland, BKMC Co-chair Ban Ki-moon, who also serves as Deputy Chair of The Elders, joined experts from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists for the unveiling of the Doomsday Clock in Washington DC, an annual assessment of the existential risks faced by humanity.

The Clock’s hands were moved forward to 100 seconds to midnight – the closest to midnight they have been since they were first set in 1947. The decision takes into account the precarious state of nuclear arms controls, the growing threat of climate disaster, and how these can be compounded by disruptive new technologies.

“Our planet faces two concurrent existential threats: the climate crisis and nuclear weapons. We are faced by a gathering storm of extinction-level consequences, and time is running out,” Mary Robinson said.

Ban Ki-moon and Mary Robinson specifically called on President Trump to respond to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s offer to open negotiations on New START, which will expire in February 2021 unless the agreement between Washington and Moscow is extended.

Following the termination of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in July 2019, the end of New START would mean there was no remaining arms control treaty in force between the United States and Russia, raising the prospect of a new nuclear arms race.

The Elders reiterated their proposals for a “nuclear minimization” agenda as the best way of making progress towards complete disarmament by the five Permanent Members of the UN Security Council and all other nuclear powers.

Ban warned that the threat of catastrophe is being exacerbated by attacks on, and disregard for, the multilateral rules-based system:

“The existential risks of nuclear conflagration and climate change are increasing just as the decision-making frameworks to address them are unraveling. From the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and the Iran Nuclear Deal to deadlock on nuclear disarmament talks and division at the UN Security Council, our mechanisms for collaboration are being undermined when we need them most.”

On the climate emergency, The Elders Chair Mary Robinson called for a change of mindset if the world is to tackle the threat effectively:

“The science of the climate crisis makes it imperative that we take urgent action in 2020.  We need a change of mindset in politics, finance, business and civil society, one that enables us to keep temperature rises at or below 1.5°C, whilst protecting the rights, dignity and livelihoods of those affected by the shift to a carbon neutral economy. Not to do so will be a death sentence for humanity.”

Co-chair Ban Ki-moon believes 2020 is a crucial year to defend and revitalize the multilateral system’s ability to address the threats of nuclear and climate catastrophe, as the world marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations.

Source: The Elders

© The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists