The United Nations and the international community are experiencing an age of great difficulties and opportunities which will help define the future of the planet, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared in a wide-ranging address that touched upon the myriad common challenges – from climate change to sustainable development – currently facing humanity.
Delivering remarks at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, yesterday afternoon, the Secretary-General told faculty members and others gathered that the marking of the UN's 70th anniversary offered “a good moment to reflect on the past” but also an important opportunity to have “a conversation about what we can do to build a better future.”
“The new agenda will build on the gains of the past two decades, when hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of extreme poverty,” he affirmed. “We want to finish the job while going further to build effective institutions, stable societies and lives of dignity for all.”
To that point, Mr. Ban indicated the upcoming climate conference, to be held in Paris in December, as well as the meeting on the proposed sustainable development goals (SDGs) and financing for development conference that will precede it, in New York and Addis Ababa, respectively, as crucial milestones along the UN's journey towards combatting climate change and ending poverty once and for all.
At the same time, listing the numerous peace and security challenges facing the UN – from Syria to Yemen to South Sudan – the Secretary-General observed that he had not only launched an urgent review of the Organization's peace operations but was also strengthening the UN's efforts to preventing human rights violations.
Mr. Ban also offered a few reflections on the situation in Asia and the Pacific, where the engines of growth and economic power are continuing to shift as China and India grow in global prominence and engagement.
Nevertheless, he warned, the region presented challenges that could place at risk the UN's goals of prosperity, stability and dignity for all, including competing territorial or maritime claims, political and communal tensions, and non-traditional security threats such as transnational organized crime.
“I have consistently called on all parties to resolve their disputes in the South China Sea in a peaceful and amicable manner, through dialogue and inconformity with international law, including the UN Charter,” he continued. “It is now more important than ever to avoid actions that would provoke or exacerbate tensions.”
The Secretary-General's emphasis on the SDGs reverberated throughout the day as Mr. Ban also met with the Chief Executive Officers of San Francisco's most notable tech companies and urged them to expand the reach of new technologies “to achieve the world we want.”
“I know the leaders in this room have achieved tremendous success by embracing great challenges and turning them into new market opportunities,” he stated at a roundtable featuring the tech heads. “When it comes to achieving the sustainable development goals, I count on you to show the same visionary leadership.”