Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today emphasized the need for global cooperation, particularly towards accelerating progress on agreed goals in education, poverty eradication and sustainable development, as leaders of the Group of 20 (G20) prepare to meet in the Russian city of St. Petersburg to discuss pressing global issues.
“This is a vital month for global cooperation,” Mr. Ban said in his remarks at St. Petersburg State University. “Around the world, human rights are at risk. Democracies are threatened. Legitimate voices and movements of dissent are being stifled. People everywhere are worried about the future and wonder whether institutions and decision-makers will hear their pleas and act on them.”
Mr. Ban underlined that States have an obligation to address the immediate crises facing the world, including the civil war in Syria which has killed more than 100,000 people, displaced millions, and generated instability across the region.
“The latest fighting has also raised the spectre of chemical warfare – which, if confirmed by the UN investigation mission, would be an atrocious violation of international law,” Mr. Ban said. “I continue to press for a political solution. Arms flows and militarization only sustain the bloodshed. It is time for the parties to stop fighting and start talking.”
Mr. Ban also stressed that countries should continue to focus on long-term challenges, including the achievement of the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), strengthening global economic recovery, and achieving a sustainable future.
“Putting off those challenges until tomorrow will only make them even more difficult and expensive to solve,” Mr. Ban said, adding that united action by the international community can make a difference in creating jobs, improving access to education, and addressing food insecurity.
“So here at the G20, I will urge leaders to invest more in education, training and skills. This is crucial for ensuring that young people have the tools they need for decent work opportunities and a brighter future.” He stressed that 425 million young women and men are expected to join the global workforce over the next 20 years and better education and training would be crucial for ensuring that they have the tools they need for decent work opportunities and a brighter future.
Mr. Ban also noted the need to take action on climate change by increasing commitments to low-carbon energy systems and green industries.
“Many countries, rich and poor, have implemented green economy policies to promote low-emission technologies and energy efficiency. Here in St. Petersburg, I will call on all G20 countries to adopt and promote new patterns and models for environmentally sustainable economic growth.”
Mr. Ban added that countries would have an opportunity to lay the groundwork for securing a universal, ambitious and binding climate agreement in 2015 at the high-level climate change summit next September.