Welcome remarks

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

Address

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ladies and Gentlemen,

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

Thank you.

Photo: Harald_Klemm

“Europe and the SDGs: Best-practices and Recommendations”

The Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens and the Embassy of Sweden in Vienna co-hosted the event on “Europe and the SDGs: Best-practices and Recommendations” on May 21st, 2019 in Vienna, Austria. The event gathered representatives and experts from both public and private sectors and provided an open-discussion platform where the best practices and the recommendations on the SDG implementation were discussed.

H.E. Ambassador Mikaela Kumlin Granit of the Swedish Embassy and BKMC Co-chair Heinz Fischer delivered welcome remarks.

Fischer pointed out that “now it is time to look at the current implementations by governments and business in Europe and how they can be improved.”

He mentioned that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Agenda 2030 that were adopted by the United Nations when Co-chair Ban Ki-moon was serving as Secretary-General of the UN and that it is crucial to cooperate to advance the 17 Goals. Then he added the efforts to achieve the SDGs should not be done by competition but in collaboration.

“The Agenda 2030 presents not only the opportunity to make sustainable development reality, but it also gives us significant responsibilities,” said Fischer.

Following the welcome remarks, Sabine Schneeberger, Director at the Coordination DG of the Austrian Federal Chancellery delivered a keynote. She said that the Austrian government has integrated the 2030 Agenda into their programs, requiring all its ministries to incorporate the principles of the Agenda.

The event was divided into two panel discussions that were moderated by CEO Monika Froehler of the Ban Ki-moon Centre:

Panel I – Government Best-Practices

  • Inger Buxton, Deputy Head of the Global Agenda Department at the MFA, Sweden
  • H.E. Ambassador Sylvia Meier-Kajbic, Federal Ministry of Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs, Austria
  • H.E. Ambassador Pirkko Hämäläinen, Ambassador of Finland to Austria and Permanent Representative to the International Organizations in Vienna
  • Kvetoslav Kmec, Director for Strategic Planning at the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office, Slovakia

Panel II – Business and CSO Best-Practices

  • Helena Lindemark, Founder and CEO of Sustainable Development Sweden AB
  • Dr. Gabriela-Maria Straka, Director of CSR & Corporate Affairs, Grüne Brauerei Göss, Austria
  • Bernhard Zlanabitnig, member of SDG Watch Austrian Steering Committee; Director of EU-Umwelt Büro
  • Markus Haas, Head of Export Finance, International Projects, and Financial Institutions at the Austrian Economic Chambers (WKO)

The audience also actively engaged themselves in the discussions, bringing different perspectives and expertise to the floor.

Emphasizing the importance of acting promptly to advance the SDGs and to facilitate the collaboration between private and public sector, Froehler said that it is also crucial that individuals contribute to the sustainable development of all, no matter how small each contribution may be.

She concluded “because I think, on an individual level, on a national level, and on the international level, there is so much to gain” and that one should try to convert “pain” into “gain.”

Watch the recorded video of the first panel: https://www.facebook.com/BanKimoonCentre/videos/2366321576931251/
and the second panel here: https://www.facebook.com/BanKimoonCentre/videos/343893992935647/

Photos: Harald Klemm

Co-chair Ban Ki-moon Speaks at Global Citizen Festival in Berlin Calling for Climate Action

On Tuesday May 21st 2019, Ban Ki-moon Centre partner Global Citizen hosted GC Live Berlin, bringing together policy makers from around the world seeking to end extreme poverty and to support African Youth. Former UN Secretary-General and Centre Co-chair Ban Ki-Moon made particular impact through his participation and speech at the event resulting in large coverage across social media and media outlets.

At the event, Nigeria and Zambia made important commitments to water, sanitation, and nutrition. Co-chair Ban, World Bank Chief Executive Kristalina Georgieva, and German Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development Gerd Müller all made powerful statements on the world’s most pressing issues associated with ending extreme poverty and addressing climate change.

Along with CEO Georgieva and Bill Gates, Co-chair Ban chairs the Global Commission on Adaptation focused on climate adaptation.

During his speech at GC live Berline, Co-chair Ban emphasized:

“Now is the moment to make our lives, our homes, and our communities climate friendly and climate ready.”

BKMC CEO Monika Froehler also attended the event in support of African Youth which underlined the idea of one generation, one future.

In addition to the commitments made by African countries, the government of Germany announced support for 60 million smallholder farmers globally to adapt to climate change.

The event followed weeks of campaigning by Global Citizens around the world. Global Citizens from Germany, South Africa, Nigeria, and 143 other countries took action in the lead-up to the event which earned them tickets to the concert. The event celebrated Africa Day, which takes place on May 25 and commemorates the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (now known as the African Union) on May 25, 1963.

Global Citizen Live Berlin was presented in partnership with Engagement Global, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Live Nation.

Source: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/global-citizen-live-berlin-global-citizens-artists-and-world-leaders-from-nigeria-zambia-germany-rwanda-and-ghana-took-unprecedented-action-on-ending-extreme-poverty-by-2030-300854704.html

Photo: Global Citizen

#GCLiveBerlin #EineGenerationEineZukunft #SDGs #GlobalCitizens

The Ban Ki-moon Centre mentors young researchers writing paper on the SDGs

Young researchers from the Regional Academy on the United Nations visited the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens on May 9th. The group of three young scholars from Austria, the Czech Republic,and Germany presented their ideas for conducting researches on the SDGs.

As their mentors, BKMC Co-chair Heinz Fischer and CEO Monika Froehler encouraged the group, stressing that their inputs will also inspire others to take initiatives and further actions to make changes in society as global citizens,

The group’s research findings will bring together and reflect varied perspectives and fields of expertise with the examples of best practices. A 20-page research paper will be submitted by the end of this year and presented at the RAUN conference in early next year.

Learn more: http://www.ra-un.org/

“Leave no one behind,” says Heinz Fischer at the symposium for Global SDGs in a Mediatized World

A 2-day symposium “Global Sustainable Development Goals in a Mediatized World” took place at the Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften in Vienna, Austria on April 4-5th, 2019.

At the opening, BKMC Co-chair Heinz Fischer delivered a keynote, mentioning the great success of the world having reached the consensus on the Human Rights Declaration, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and then the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the United Nations.

Expressing his appreciation of “what is done and how many institutions and universities are dealing with teaching about the SDGs,” Fischer urged that we should cooperate to advance the SDGs and “leave no one behind.”

Mediatization shapes public discourses and thus influences the way in which the Agenda 2030 is reflected, criticized, and implemented. Communication plays an important and sometimes decisive role in the awareness and individual acceptance and the political and economic legitimization of the SDGs due to digitalization, convergence, and globalization in a rapidly changing societal environment.

The symposium brought together experts, scientists, and researchers in the field to highlight these aspects, discuss the consequences across disciplines, and elaborate the implications of research related to the implementation of the Agenda 2030. Their research findings were also presented during the symposium, and it showed what Austrian scientists can make to the SDGs, deepen the interdisciplinary dialogue among scientists and beyond, and better acquaint researchers with the SDGs.

Learn more: https://www.facebook.com/events/384052535730580/

Ban Ki-moon stresses the importance of “resilient and sustainable cities” at the MIPIM 2019

From March 12th to 15th, 2019, the 30th edition of MIPIM, an real estate event, takes place in Cannes, France. It is the world’s leading real estate event gathering key players of the property market. The event allows people from different sectors of the industry to meet and bring the value chain together and provides a unique exhibition and networking platform to forge deals. This year, the main theme for the conferences is “Engaging the Future.”

At the opening ceremony, BKMC Co-chair Ban Ki-moon delivered a keynote and stressed that

“we must ensure that our future cities are resilient and sustainable, creative and innovate, and inclusive and equitable.”

He pointed out that creating resilient and sustainable cities are they key to our future, and the climate change is the “most pressing threat standing in this path.” He also addressed how the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals can help in charting a thriving blueprint for the future.

“Goal 17 of the SDGs clearly highlights the prominent role that the private sector, alongside civil society, academia, and others, should play to help achieve the SDGs,” said Ban. “Global partnerships,” he stressed, “are necessary if we are to deliver on our development commitments.”

Photo by: Yann Coatsaliou

A ‘Small UN’ Ban Ki-moon Foundation to be opened in Seoul

On March 5th, the “Ban Ki-moon Foundation for a Better Future (tentative title)” was announced to be established in Korea at the meeting of promoters held in Seoul. Having BKMC Co-chair Ban Ki-moon as the Chair of its Board, the Foundation will serve as a non-political, non-profit public organization that acts as a ‘small UN’ with below objectives:

  • To improve and promote Ban Ki-moon’s philosophy and vision as the 8th UN Secretary-General by realizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and conducting academic researches and suggesting policies in order for everyone to ensured of human rights
  • To establish a perpetual peace in the Korean Peninsula as well as to promote peace in East Asia and the globe
  • To protect the future vision and the rights of women, youth, and children and to establish future-oriented values
  • To create and execute varied programs to eradicate poverty and disease in developing countries
  • To lead education on cultivating people of talents and global citizenship in cooperation with various international organizations, including the United Nations, and civil organizations, academic institutes, and  educational institutions both inside and outside Korea

Starting from May 2019, the Foundation will pursue projects with the above visions.

Ban mentioned that “I have tried to promote the agenda on climate change, sustainable development, and women’s empowerment while in the UN” and “now I would like to realize such visions both inside and outside the country in cooperation with the people from different sectors in Korea.”

The meeting of promoters had 46 participants, including:

  • Kim Hwangsik, former Prime Minister of Korea; Chairman of the Board of Directors at Ho-am Foundation (Head of the Meeting of Promoters for the BKM Foundation)
  • Gong Ro-myung, former Minister of Foreign Affairs; Chairman of East Asia Foundation
  • Lee Sang-hee, former Minister of National Defense
  • Kim Yong-hak, President of Yonsei University
  • Han Bi-ya, President of Global Citizen School of World Vision; Author of a best-selling book “Daughter of the Wind: Three and a Half Times around the Globe on Foot”
  • Kim Sook, former Korean Ambassador to the UN; former President of UN Women’s Executive Board
  • Rye Seung-min, Korean gold-medalist table tennis player; Athlete Member of the IOC
  • Son Yeon-jae, Korean retired rhythmic gymnast; 3-time Asian Championships All-around Champion
  • Yoo Dong-geun, Korean actor

Russian students from the Eurasian Club System visit BKMC

A group of Russian students from the Eurasian Club System (ECS) with the club’s President and CEO Marat Shafigullin visited the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens (BKMC) on January 21st, 2018. BKMC CEO Monika Froehler and Associate Julia Zimmerman briefed the students on the Centre’s work and missions. Specializing in politics and economics, the students showed interest in how to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as global citizens.

The ECS is an organization that aims to facilitate international cooperation for and by youth. Learn more: http://ecseducation.ru

(The SDG signs provided by Stadt Wien)

“Sustainable Development: The Pathway to the Future” – Ban Ki-moon’s Keynote at the 4th International Growth in Transition Conference

4th Annual Growth in Transition Conference: Europe’s Transformation: Where People Matter

Keynote Speech followed by Moderated Discussion/Q & A – BAN KI-MOON

“Sustainable Development: The Pathway to the Future”

Location: Austrian Center Vienna, Bruno-Kreisky-Platz 1, 1220 Vienna

Madam Minister Elisabeth Köstinger,
Mr. Wolfgang Burtscher, Deputy Director-General of DG Research and Innovation of the European Commission,
Ms. Stientje Van Veldhoven, Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management of the Netherlands,
Excellencies,
Distinguished participants,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to join you today for the 4th Annual Growth in Transition Conference.

I thank Minister Köstinger for her invitation to attend this conference and for the opportunity to share my insights on the sustainable development goals as the pathway for our common future. I also appreciate the leadership of Chancellor Kurz as the Chairperson of the European Union at this time.

It is indeed a timely topic and one which we all should take to heart with a strong ownership in our work, no matter the field or level you are engaging.

Today, we live in a time of great growth and transition globally.

This time is also characterized by heightened uncertainties, rise of populism worldwide, a widening gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots,” exponential population growth, climate hazards, vast migratory movements and new risks, some more impending than others.

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

International treaties and agreements are being tested and multilateralism is strained as countries become more protectionist and nationalist.

However, this period in history is also defined by impressive and innovative advancements as well as by a growing sense of interconnectivity between societies around the globe.

It is now easier than ever before to be connected, access information, travel and trade and, with the help of internet, we are privileged to have endless information at our fingertips.

New technologies are altering how we communicate, live, and work. Sweeping advances in the fields of artificial intelligence, blockchain, bio- and nanotechnology, and robotics will alter the future of our countries, cities, businesses, and interpersonal relationships.

At a time characterized by waning internationalism and transition, we must continue to work together through expanded partnerships and cooperation as global citizens. We must continue to commit to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and hold up the notion of global citizenship to help cope with these seemingly insurmountable challenges.

The United Nations, during the last seven decades, has presented many important visions and promises to the world. But to my knowledge, the Sustainable Development Goals are by far the most ambitious, most discussed, and most far-reaching vision that the United Nations has ever presented to the world. This is ours, it’s not the United Nations’, now it is in your hands. In everybody’s hands.

Having said this, I will now address three key areas. First, I will discuss the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the need to see them achieved for all of us.

Second, I will address the most serious challenge we currently face globally: the climate change phenomenon.

Last, I will speak about the need for expanded youth participation and the role of global citizenship in forging ahead and in building a more sustainable, peaceful, and prosperous world for us all. This is the pathway to our common future.

Distinguished participants,

To meet the challenges the world faces, sustainable development must become the hallmark of this era. It must be the virtue that characterizes our actions.

The picture of a sustainable world is envisioned in the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the Agenda 2030, showing the path to sustainable development and peaceful co-prosperity of our planet.

Before the SDGs, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) made strides in the field of global development and undoubtedly improved human welfare around the world.

However, there is still much work left to be done.

First, sustainability means ensuring prosperity and environmental protection without compromising future generations and our planet.

We cannot consume all what we need today. We need to leave some and to make sure that the succeeding generations will use the planet’s resources equally and fairly.

Secondly, the sustainability means a world free from poverty where individuals can enjoy decent work without harming the earth’s essential ecosystems and resources.

A sustainable world is one where people can stay healthy and are guaranteed the food and water they need.
It means a world where everyone can access clean energy.
And it also means that women and girls are afforded equal rights and equal opportunities.

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 our Sustainable Development Goals. Indeed, without the engagement of women and youth, we will not succeed.

Again, during my time as Secretary-General, for the first time in UN history, I established UN Women and again for the first time, I appointed a Special Envoy for Youth. Never in previous United Nation’s history have we focused on these. Now, I am very glad that these two issues, women and youth, are being supported by world leaders.

People often say that half the world is made up of women. There is a book written by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn where they describe that “half the sky are women.” If we do not give them more, they should at least be given equal and fairly. This has been my consistent message to the world.

Therefore, we require their active engagement should we hope to realize our goals and to achieve sustainable development.

This year, as was introduced, I co-founded a new initiative in partnership with the former Federal President of Austria Heinz Fischer, the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens. Why global citizens? This is quite vague in terms of an academic definition. What I observed in the past 10 years, is that largely world leaders, particularly political leaders, come to the United Nations and speak grandeurs and ambitious goals, saying that they are global citizens, but as soon as they return to their countries, they immediately become national leaders. I have seen few global leaders, particularly at this time and  it’s the 21st century.   So, I thought together with Heinz Fischer, that we must foster global citizenship among the people, particularly political leaders and business leaders.

Through leadership, mediation, advocacy, and education, the Centre aims to empower those whose voices often go unheard, offering them the opportunities and potential to drive sustainable development for themselves and for future generations.

Distinguished participants,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is essential that we acknowledge climate change and that we find sustainable solutions to mitigate and to adapt to its repercussions.

Climate change is altering the character of our planet.

We must increase our collective efforts to prepare and protect ourselves, our communities, and our world from existential threats that climate change will bring. We are running out of time.

I often say that nature does not wait for us. Nature does not negotiate with human-beings. It is us as human-beings that must negotiate with nature. We must harmonize the way we live with nature. Minister Köstinger already quoted what I often say, there is no “planet B;” therefore, we don’t have a “plan B” we only have “plan A.” To live harmoniously with nature has been my consistent message.

Even here in Vienna, I was told that you have experienced the hottest summer since weather was recorded. We have seen extreme patterns in weather. Wild fires, still it is happening in California. Still at this moment. Hurricanes, cyclones, and typhoons with strong intensity.

These weather patterns are clear warnings from nature that we must adapt to the changing climate phenomenon.
On the global stage, the world has seen mounting and devastating natural disasters. It’s not usual. Again, this is a clear message.
These and other natural disasters are not going to cease their destructive and deadly course.

Last month, under the leadership of Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands, we launched a Global Commission on Adaptation. Why adaptation? We have done some for mitigation because we had to do it. When there’s destruction, you have to rebuild. But we have not been doing much to adapt to climate change. There is much more investment worldwide, for example in 2015 and 2016, in mitigating climate. The records say we spent around 380 billion dollars on mitigating climate change these years and only 20 billion were spent on adaptation. There must be equal efforts – mitigation and adaptation must go together.

The importance of adaptation has become clearer now, and that’s why, with the chairmanship that I’m taking with the co-chairmanship of Bill Gates and Kristalina Georgieva who used to be Vice-President of EU and now CEO of World Bank, we are leading this commission with strong political support from at least 17 heads of state and governments. From the European Union, the Prime Minister of the UK Theresa May and Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel and of course Mark Rutte of the Netherlands, are on board. Now leaders of China, Xi Jinping, and of India, Narendra Modi, are also supporting us. There are also many African leaders like in Ethiopia, Senegal, South Africa, and in Latin America, Mexico, Argentina and Costa Rica, who are also on board.

Also, as you may know, I am acting as President and Chairman of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI). This is an international organization with 30 Member States.

So, with all this together, I am continuing what I used to do as Secretary-General. The Paris Climate Agreement, the Sustainable Development Goals, and gender empowerment, are the three most passionate positions that the United Nations presented to the world during my time as Secretary-General. I do not say that it was my own achievement. There are many achievements where Members States have been working together with a sense of unity. This is the time that we must implement, with a strong sense of passion and compassionate leadership among us.

In that regard, I really appreciate that we are working together today.

On September 25th, 2015 I was deeply moved. I never felt that kind of excitement. I was deeply touched by the long standing-ovation and applause we received by world leaders. I didn’t see any world leader, at that moment, with differing ideas. Mostly, this world is divided.

In Vienna you must have seen many beautiful concerts and operas. At the end of the concert, many people stand up and have an extended ovation. But never in my life, have I seen such a long and standing-ovation by world leaders. They were one, united. This is what we want to see among world leaders. Unfortunately, they are too often divided, starting from the biggest country in the world.

With the transformative advancement of science and technology, now everything is moving at lightening speed. We are now talking about artificial intelligence, bio and nanotechnologies and robotics. With the advent of this transformative advancement of science and technology, why are political leaders divided? Why are they not able to implement sustainable development and why are they divided regarding this common threat to our humanity and our planet?

In that regard, I see strong passion among you this morning. So lets work together and lets be united in implementing what has already been given to us: the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement.

These are the answers to our common prosperity and the future for all of us.

Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Let us work together to make this world better for all.

I thank you very much.
Dankeschön.