Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is calling on the world’s biggest economies to heed the voices of global public protest at their G-20 summit next week and show the bold leadership needed to resolve the global economic crisis and achieve sustainable development.
“The gathering force of public protest is the popular expression of an obvious fact: that growing economic uncertainty, market volatility and mounting inequality have reached a point of crisis,” he tells the leaders of the G-20 group of major industrialized and developing economies in a letter released today ahead of the 3-4 November summit in Cannes, France.
“Everywhere, people are losing faith in governments and public institutions. The G-20 has an historic opportunity, and an historic responsibility, to deliver bold solutions and lead the way. Above all else, we need to be united. The time for haggling over incremental steps is over,” he adds, calling for the same “ambitious leadership” shown at the 2009 summit in London in the midst of the global financial meltdown.
In the letter, which he traditionally sends the leaders before each G-20 summit, Mr. Ban stresses that even though budgets are stretched thin, the world cannot afford to lose sight of those who are hardest hit: the poor, the planet, youth and women.
“Those least responsible for this turmoil are paying the highest price,” he writes. “Asking them to wait while other problems are solved is not only counter-productive but immoral. As the leaders of the world’s largest economies, you can announce specific measures in Cannes to demonstrate that the interests of the poorer and most vulnerable members of our human family will feature prominently in the global response.”
He calls for strong support for the pro-poor agenda embodied in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight internationally-agreed goals that seek to slash poverty, hunger, maternal and infant mortality, lack of access to health care and education, and a host of other ills, all by 2015.
“Investments are needed now; we must not break our solemn pact with the world’s poor,” he states. “We know what works; we must provide the resources to sustain our gains and successes. Investments in women's and children's health, food and nutrition security and gender equity, in particular, are paying dividends across the board.”
He warns there will be no sustainable development or sustainable economies without confronting the realities of climate change and calls on all the leaders of the largest economies to recommit to securing a comprehensive, ambitious global climate change agreement as soon as possible.
Achieving sustainable energy, food and nutrition security and protection of oceans as a hallmark of a blue planet are also imperatives, first among which is access to energy for the 1.4 billion people who lack modern energy services, doubling energy efficiency and doubling the percentage of renewable energy in the global energy mix, all by 2030.
“Young people and women have taken to the streets throughout the world, demanding their rights and a greater voice in the economic and political life of their countries. We must do all we can to deliver, especially in countries in rapid transition,” he says.
“Above all, the G-20 needs to squarely address the crisis of rising inequality, across and within countries. If we fail to do so, the future will come to us with a vengeance. Social alienation and instability can only undermine the prospects for peace, security and prosperity for all.”