The world has before it a unique opportunity to build a better future for all, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared today in Bonn, Germany, where he urged broad support for a trio of course-correcting United Nations events in 2015 that aim to lock down agreements on protecting the planet, ensuring sustainable development and unleashing the finances and technology to ensure these vital goals are achieved.
In Bonn for the inauguration of a new wing to the World Conference Centre there, and a day before he heads to Schloss Elmau outside of Munich, where he will hold a series of meetings with G7 leaders, the Secretary-General noted the Center's opening takes place at a crucial juncture for people and the planet.
“This year, 2015, is a year for global action – a once-in-a-generation opportunity to put our world on more peaceful, sustainable and equitable footing,” he said, adding that tomorrow he will urge the leaders of the world's largest economies to uphold their moral and political responsibilities – “and to take the difficult yet sensible steps that will achieve our goals.”
Beyond the G7 summit, three milestones will follow, explained the UN chief, citing the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 13 to 16 July, as an opportunity to mobilize the resources and technology to make good on the the promise of a sustainable, equitable future for all.
He went on to note that in September in New York, world leaders gathered for the annual opening session of the UN General Assembly would look to adopt a new development agenda with a set of sustainable development goals, SDGs, which would be successor targets to the historic UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
“The new agenda will build on the remarkable gains made under the Millennium Development Goals over the past two decades, when hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of extreme poverty,” the Secretary-General said, explaining that the new framework will also go further by focusing on the key role of effective institutions, human rights and other elements that were not part of the MDG blueprint, but which are crucial for preventing conflict and promoting stability and peace.
These events are not only priorities for the United Nations family, “[but] of the whole international community for humanity,” declared Mr. Ban, emphasizing that he is counting on the very strong engagement and leadership of Chancellor Angela Merkel and the German Government in this regard.
“These are three global meetings [that] together, make up one universal agenda. They give us our best chance to end poverty – and our last chance to address the impact of the climate change phenomenon,” continued the UN chief, adding that the three stops – Addis Ababa, New York and Paris – are all benefitting from the work being done in Bonn.
“The United Nations entities in Bonn play an invaluable role in bringing stakeholders together. You are strongly committed to collaborative work and holistic approaches. I am confident that the expansion of this World Conference Centre Bonn will open up many new opportunities,” said the Secretary-General.
Turning to broader issues, he said today's inauguration comes at a time of test for the international community, amid a five-year devastating conflict in Syria that continues to worsen, and humanitarian suffering in Yemen that is affecting millions of people.
“These and other conflicts, along with poverty, persecution and other ills, have generated at least 50 million refugees and displaced persons around the world – the most number of refugees since the end of the Second World War,” Mr. Ban noted, underscoring that the United Nations is working hard to address the challenges.
Indeed, he said that a high-level panel is currently assessing the state of UN peace operations in order to keep pace with changing threats. “We are developing a comprehensive plan of action to prevent violent extremism, and strengthening our efforts to act early to prevent human rights violations. And of course, the new development agenda has a strong preventive orientation.”
“In this year in which we mark the Organization's 70th anniversary, we can look back on a record of solid achievement – while acknowledging the distance still to travel in fulfilling the vision set out in the United Nations Charter. The UN in Bonn has much to contribute as we continue this journey together,” concluded the Secretary-General.
Earlier today, Mr. Ban met with Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany, and the two leaders discussed, among others, the situation in Ukraine, underscoring the need for the ceasefire to continue and the implementation of the Minsk Package of Measures. On migration, they agreed on the need to address the root causes and a comprehensive approach, with the Secretary-General stressing that saving human lives was a top priority.