In Prague address, Ban highlights ‘crossroads moment’ in shaping better future for all

4 April 2014

From reducing poverty and hunger to addressing climate change, the world faces big challenges that cannot be tackled alone, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, highlighting the importance of shared global responsibility in an address to students in the Czech Republic.

“We face a crossroads moment. There are three issues on the global agenda for the coming year that will shape people’s lives for generations to come. 2015 will be a year of global choices,” Mr. Ban said in a lecture delivered at Charles University in Prague.

Firstly, he noted, it is vital to accelerate progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the world’s blueprint for tackling poverty, hunger and disease and expanding education, opportunity and cleaner greener future.

“Important progress has been made. Global poverty has been cut in half. More children are in school,” said the Secretary-General. “But there is a long way to go. Grinding poverty still affects more than one in every seven people on earth. Hunger plagues nearly a billion people…”

“I am urging the international community to spare no effort in speeding up our progress to meet the MDGs by next year.”

Secondly, Mr. Ban highlighted the need to usher in a sustainable future while adapting to the changing global landscape. “We are learning lessons from the MDG experience as we work to craft a long-term agenda that will shape development efforts for the next generation.”

A third challenge is tackling climate change, a problem the UN chief has been spotlighting with visits around the world, most recently to Greenland, where the ice is melting fast. While in the Czech capital today, he will visit the Prague flood protection system to see first-hand how the city is adapting to the climate change challenge.

“Around the world, climate change is an existential threat – but if we harness the opportunities inherent in addressing climate change, we can reap enormous economic benefits,” said Mr. Ban.

In September, the Secretary-General will convene a summit in New York to pave the way for a legal agreement on climate change by 2015 and to focus on climate solutions.

“These are big challenges and we cannot tackle them alone,” he noted. “That is why I am also so focused on activating the real drivers of change in today’s world. That starts with ensuring equality for women and empowerment of young people.”

Young people, in particular, have the power to transform the world, he noted. “You are part of the largest generation of youth in history. You have an unprecedented ability to network. You have access to information at lightning speed. But it takes more than connectivity to change the world – it takes conviction.”

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