Ahead of next week’s summit of the world’s leading industrialized nations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has issued a call for decisive action to deal with the global food crisis, address climate change and eradicate poverty.
“Never in recent memory has the global economy been under such stress,”Mr. Ban says in an op-ed that appeared today in The Washington Post, as well as in news outlets in the other Group of Eight industrialized nations, prior to their summit which begins in Hokkaido on 7 July.
“More than ever, this is the moment to prove that we can cooperate globally to deliver results: in meeting the needs of the hungry and the poor, in promoting sustainable energy technologies for all, in saving the world from climate change – and in keeping the global economy growing,” he writes.
Recent years have been marked by the kind of economic growth that has raised living standards worldwide and lifted billions out of poverty. “Yet today, many wonder how long it can last,” the Secretary-General notes, adding that “plenty comes at an increasingly high price.”
The world is already witnessing the rising cost of fuel, food and commodities, he states. At the same time, climate change and environmental degradation threaten the future of the planet.
“We know that these issues affect us all: north and south, large nations and small, rich and poor. And we know we must find ways to extend the benefits of the global boom to those who have been left behind, the so-called ‘bottom billion,” he says. “In dealing with problems of such dimension and complexity, there is only one possible approach: to see them for what they are – as parts of a whole requiring a comprehensive solution.”
The Secretary-General states that among the causes of the global food crisis is a failure to give agricultural development the importance it deserves.
Emphasizing the need for the sort of “green revolution” that transformed South-East Asia, Mr. Ban says he will call on G-8 nations in Hokkaido to triple official assistance for agricultural research and development over the next three to five years. Also needed is urgent action to get seeds, fertilizers and other agricultural inputs to farmers in poor countries, and the elimination of barriers that distort trade patterns and drive up prices.
On climate change, he notes that alternative technologies are among the best hopes for cleaner, affordable power. National and international leaders have a duty to assist in guiding and hastening this transformation, by changing social behaviour and consumption patterns throughout the developed world. “And we must help developing countries ‘green’ their economies by spreading climate-friendly technologies as broadly as possible,” the Secretary-General writes.
G-8 leaders can take a “big step forward” by funding the global Adaptation Fund and ensuring it becomes operational, says Mr. Ban, who also calls for pushing ahead with negotiations for a comprehensive agreement limiting greenhouse gases.
“Hokkaido will test our commitment to the Millennium Development Goals,” he adds, referring to the set of anti-poverty targets to be achieved worldwide by 2015. He urges donors to fulfil their promises to assist countries, particularly those in Africa, meet their development objectives.
“We must act, in Hokkaido and beyond – not merely because it is the right thing to do but also because it is in the enlightened interest of all of us,” Mr. Ban emphasizes.