The Secretary-General’s Remarks at Opening Session of the Global Sustainable Transport Conference

The SG's Remarks at Opening Session of the Global Sustainable Transport ConferenceIt is wonderful to be back in Ashgabat on my third visit to Turkmenistan.

I sincerely thank His Excellency, President Berdimuhamedov, for welcoming us and hosting this important Global Sustainable Transport Conference.

Without transport, we would not be here. We all understand its importance.

Global trade depends on the world’s roads, rails, waterways and flight paths.

The transport sector itself is a huge source of jobs and an engine of economic growth.

Beyond economics, there is a human side.

We should all be concerned about people who do not have the access they deserve.

Sustainable transport is out of reach for too many rural communities.

Millions of persons with disabilities cannot use public transportation because it is inaccessible.

Older persons struggle to move from one place to the next.

Even where transport is available it may not be safe – especially for women and girls, who often rightly fear they may be attacked.

Sustainable transport has to answer to the needs of those who have the least.

When it does, we can bridge more than physical distances; we can come closer as one human family.

This Conference should confront the many challenges to sustainability when it comes to transport.

This sector is responsible for nearly a quarter of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. And that is expected to substantially increase in the future.

Without action on the transportation front, we will not be able to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius and as close to 1.5 as possible.

Transport also has significant public health impacts.

Road accidents claim about one and a quarter million lives every year. The vast majority – nine out of ten – are in developing countries.

Traffic in cities saps productivity.

Transport also contributes to air pollution, which costs more than 3 million lives a year.

The answer to these problems is not less transport – it is sustainable transport.

We need more systems that are environmentally friendly, affordable and accessible.

Technological advances can get us there.

Let me offer seven ideas.

First, we need a broad view that resolves interlocking problems of transport with an

integrated policy framework. This has to align with the Sustainable Development Goals.

And it should take account of interactions between different modes of transport.

Second, we must address the needs of vulnerable countries, including least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing states.

These countries need simplified border crossings and harmonized regional regulations and requirements.

Third, we should promote better transport systems in cities. That means improving public transport while promoting walking and cycling.

The new sharing economy is opening the way.

People can borrow a bike on one side of town and leave it on the other. They can rent a car using an app. Or they can share rides in the same vehicle that normally would take just one passenger.

Fourth, we have to make all transport systems safe and secure to reach the ambitious target set in the 2030 Agenda calling for access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all.

Fifth, we need to address the environmental impacts of transport in order to mitigate the impact on climate change and reduce local air pollution.

I call for bold and innovative steps in re-thinking transport systems, from design, to technology and consumption patterns.

There are many exciting developments – like electric cars, alternative fuels and new concepts for mass transit systems.

During my tenure as Secretary-General, I have been impressed by many creative approaches.

Three years ago, I rode on a bamboo bicycle made by women in Ghana. They gain a profit – and riders get a bike, which never damages the environment.

Last year, I took a solar taxi to work.

And just last week, I met again with the pilot of the Solar Impulse, Bertrand Piccard, who is flying this powered plane with nothing but renewable energy.

There are so many more ideas like these just waiting to be realized.

Sixth, we need financing.

It takes investments to see results.

That means mobilizing funds from a variety of sources and fostering North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation. Public-private partnerships are indispensable.

Seventh, we have to mobilize all partners by putting people at the centre of transport planning – and by working together. Transport is team work.

With a broad coalition of governments, international organizations, businesses, civil society and communities, we can make sustainable transport a reality.

Two years ago, I formed a High-Level Advisory Group that brought together leaders from private sector companies, industry associations and local and national governments. They represented all modes of transport and the freight and passenger sectors.

I asked them for forward-looking recommendations on sustainable transport.

Last month, I received their final report.

It has one central message: that greater investment in greener, more sustainable transport systems is essential to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

This is the final international conference that I will convene as Secretary-General of the United Nations.

For nearly ten years, I have travelled around the world to push for global progress.

So I am pleased to end my term by focusing on sustainable transport.

It is already improving lives around the world – and we are here to advance progress that can benefit generations to come.

I am confident that we have the resolve, commitment, imagination and creativity to transform our transport systems in a sustainable manner that will improve human wellbeing, enhance social progress and protect our planet Earth.

Thank you.

UN conference to address way forward on global sustainable transport challenges

Global Sustainable Transport ConferenceThe first-ever global conference on sustainable transport takes place this weekend in Turkmenistan, bringing together representatives from the United Nations, governments, the private sector and civil society to set new directions for global transport efforts.

“Without doubt, unsustainable transport brings numerous challenges. For example, the transport sector is responsible for about one quarter of greenhouse gas emissions. Also, more than 1.25 million are killed annually in road traffic accidents – sadly to say that 90 per cent [of these] happen in developing countries,” the UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Wu Hongbo, said today at a press briefing in the Turkmen capital of Ashgabat, ahead of the start of the Global Sustainable Transport Conference there tomorrow.

“Sustainable transport, on the other hand, helps create the infrastructure on which we can build a sustainable future – it provides access to trade, jobs, markets, education, health care and other services that improve people’s lives,” Mr. Wu added. “It also empowers women, persons with disabilities, and other vulnerable people. The conference is in Ashgabat is an opportunity for mutual learning and knowledge exchange on implementing sustainable transport.”

According to the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), which Mr. Wu heads and is organizing the event, sustainable transport and mobility are crucial for sustainable development, with adequate transport infrastructure and affordable transport services still lacking globally, and with serious negative impacts on public health and well-being, living conditions and climate change.

The furthering of sustainable transport and the establishment of affordable, economically viable, socially acceptable and environmentally sound transport systems is expected to be a key part of discussions at the conference, which will also be attended by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

In his remarks to the media today, Mr. Wu said the linkage between sustainable transport and implementation of the so-called Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – a set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda – will be explored in the discussions.

Each SDG has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years, and while sustainable transport is not represented by a standalone SDG, it is essential to achieving most of them and has been mainstreamed across several SDGs and targets, especially those related to food security, health, energy, infrastructure and cities and human settlements, according to DESA.

The Global Sustainable Transport Conference has its foundations in the outcome document of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), held in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro in 2012. The document – a result of intergovernmental discussions on a range of sustainable development issues – stresses that transportation and mobility are central to sustainable development.

All modes of transport – road, rail, aviation, ferry, and maritime – will be addressed at the Ashgabat gathering, including in both developed and developing countries, as well as in landlocked and transit countries. The concerns of developing countries, including least-developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing states, will receive particular focus.

The issues in focus at the conference were recently highlighted in Quito, Ecuador, during the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), which culminated in the adoption of a New Urban Agenda, with strong elements of sustainable transport.

Delegation of Uzbekistan in the conference was headed by Rustam Azimov, deputy prime minister of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Mr. Azimov pointed out that there is a need for consolidation of efforts in international level for the development of safe and efficient transport communication, which provides sustainable development among our countries and the region.

While no outcome document is expected at the conclusion of the Ashgabat conference, the Secretary-General has encouraged all UN Member States and other stakeholders to register commitments and partnerships for sustainable transport, through the conference website.

Already, commitments to make transport more sustainable have been registered from governments and private partners from a number of countries, including the United States, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Australia, and Asia and Pacific Ocean countries.

World Science Day for Peace and Development

World Science Day for Peace and DevelopmentScience is highly diverse. Each year, World Science Day for Peace and Development offers an opportunity to demonstrate why science is relevant to people’s daily lives and to engage them in debates on related issues. In 2016, the celebration focuses on science centres and science museums to highlight their important contribution to science communication.

Citizens’ participation in governance is the core of democracy and an indispensable prerequisite for the empowerment of people. Science communication is crucial for public participation and engagement and in this regard, science centres and museums’ role goes beyond providing information on scientific issues. They are places where people can come together and explore the very mysteries that make up our world. They are fostering creativity, increasing scientific literacy, supporting teachers to inspire their students in STEM, improving the quality of science education and promoting learning experiences within a social context, as well as changing possible negative perceptions of the impact of science on society, thus attracting youths to science careers and encouraging them to experiment and expand our collective knowledge.

Proclaimed by the UNESCO General Conference (Resolution 31C/ 20) in 2001, the World Science Day for Peace and Development is an annual event celebrated all over the world to recall the commitment made at the UNESCO-ICSU World Conference on Science (Budapest 1999).

The purpose of World Science Day for Peace and Development is to renew the national, as well as the international commitment to science for peace and development and to stress the responsible use of science for the benefit of society. The World Science Day for Peace and Development also aims at raising public awareness of the importance of science and to bridge the gap between science and societies.

UN Day in Uzbekistan

UN Day 2016On 21 October 2016 at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Tashkent, an annual press conference dedicated to the 71st anniversary of the United Nations Organization’s foundation was held with the participation of Representatives of the United Nations agencies present in Uzbekistan.  

Mr. Stefan Priesner, UN Resident Coordinator in Uzbekistan, addressed the press with a brief speech on behalf of the United Nations Country Team. It was noted in the speech that the United Nations Day was an opportunity to recognize the role and contribution of the United Nations in the maintenance of peace and security, development, humanitarian affairs and advancement of human rights, as well as to reaffirm countries’ commitment to the UN values and principles.

In response to global challenges and threats, the member-states under the auspices of the UN adopted transformative Agenda 2030 for sustainable development in an effort to reach a just world that is rights-based, equitable and inclusive. 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets constitute the core of the Agenda 2030 and inextricably link three dimensions of sustainable development, namely economic growth, social development and environmental protection. The SDGs are aimed at improving the lives of people everywhere, with specific focus on women, children, youth and future generations. In the speech it was also stressed that the Agenda is designed to ensure advancement of human rights and freedoms without which achieving sustainable development would be impossible.

The results of joint collaboration between the Government of Uzbekistan and the United Nations system within the framework of UNDAF for the period of 2010-2015 were also highlighted at the conference. During this period, solid portfolio of UN programmes and projects at amount of $162 million was implemented to expand employment opportunities and economic security for vulnerable groups, improve the quality of education and healthcare services, ensure sustainable use of natural and cultural resources, enhance access to justice and promote the rule of law and good governance.

In 2016, the UN in Uzbekistan embarked on the implementation of biennial joint work plans under the new UNDAF for 2016-2020 in six thematic areas: livelihoods, social protection, healthcare, education, environment and governance. Jointly designed UNDAF 2016-2020 reflects national priorities and is closely aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals.

During the press conference, efforts of the Government of Uzbekistan to adapt the global SDGs and develop a national programme on sustainable development have been acknowledged. The UN also confirmed its readiness to support the Government of Uzbekistan in this process and its implementation through the UNDAF.

The Government of Japan allocated 263 million yens for countering trafficking of afghan narcotics in Uzbekistan through establishment of interagency mobile teams

The official signing ceremony of the Exchange NotesThe Government of Japan provided a new funding in the amount of 263 million Japanese Yens (approximately 2,500,000 USD) to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Programme “Countering Trafficking of Afghan Narcotics in Uzbekistan through the Establishment of Interagency Mobile Teams”. The official signing ceremony of the Exchange Notes between the Government of Japan and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) took place today at the UNODC Regional Office for Central Asia. The Exchange Notes were signed by H.E. Mr. Nobuaki Ito, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to the Republic of Uzbekistan and Ms. Ashita Mittal, UNODC Regional Representative for Central Asia in the presence of Mr. Ahmed Mansurov, Director of the National Information and Analytical Center on Drug Control under the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

Drug trafficking through Central Asia and the Southern Caucuses, including through the Northern route remains a concern due to the persisting high level of opiate production in Afghanistan. Communication, coordination and cooperation between law enforcement agencies are key elements in countering drug trafficking.

On this occasion, Ambassador Mr. Nobuaki Ito stressed that Japan attaches importance to the cooperation with UNODC and Uzbekistan in the field of border control and countering trafficking of narcotics, as is declared in the Joint Communiqué issued during the official visit of Japanese Prime Minister Mr. Shinzo Abe to Uzbekistan in October 2015. Moreover, he emphasized that the signed programme, aiming for a capacity building of Uzbekistan’s authorities concerned, would render the trilateral cooperation and mutual trust between Japan, Uzbekistan and UNODC much deeper and stronger, as well as wished great success with the programme.

The programme activities are planned to be conducted within the framework of the UNODC Programme for Central Asia (2015-2019). Taking into account the continued relevance of the two factors – the common border with Afghanistan and attempts of the cross border drug traffickers to use the territory of Uzbekistan and its neighbouring countries in drug transit, creation of Interagency Mobile Teams (IMTs) will facilitate enhancement of the law enforcement capacity of the country. The programme activities will address the challenges in countering narcotics in Uzbekistan, and strengthen the capacities through procurement of equipment, setting up infrastructure, conducting training courses and workshops.

Mr. Akhmed Mansurov, Director of the National Information and Analytical Center on Drug Control said: “Today’s signing ceremony of the Exchange Notes for the allocation of the grant for implementation of the Programme “Countering Trafficking of Afghan Narcotics in Uzbekistan through the Establishment of Interagency Mobile Teams” is a demonstration of the continuity of joint efforts to combat drug trafficking. I am confident that the implementation of the agreements reached will contribute to more effective addressing of the challenges we face; bring tangible benefits to our countries; and have a positive impact on the welfare, health, and safety of the region’s population”.

The planned activities will be implemented in coordination with the National Information Analytical Center on Drug Control (NCDC) and with involvement of the Uzbek law enforcement agencies including the National Security Service, the State Customs Committee and the Ministry of Interior. The Interagency Mobile Teams will also be cooperating with the other local law enforcement agencies to detect the traffickers along the railways. These teams will be established, trained as well as equipped with modern specialized equipment. The IMTs will work in close contact with the Operation Coordination Team and will evaluate the risks as well as identify the passengers that can transport illicit drugs.

While thanking the Government of Japan for its contribution and the Government of Republic of Uzbekistan for its continuing cooperation and partnership, Ms. Ashita Mittal, UNODC Regional Representative for Central Asia, emphasised the need for an integrated, harmonised and comprehensive strategic approach for prevention of drug trafficking. She emphasised that effective counter narcotics and transnational organized crime strategies are central to peace, stability, and effective governance based on the rule of law, to ensure sustainable development. It is a shared responsibility to prevent drug trafficking for the strong rule of law and a healthy society. UNODC is committed to support the efforts of the Government.

The Secretary-General’s Message on United Nations Day

71 years for 17 goals

This year’s observance of United Nations Day occurs at a time of transition for the world and for the United Nations.

Humanity has entered the era of sustainability – with a global commitment to fulfil the great promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  In this, the Organization’s 71st year, we have 17 goals to propel us towards a better future for all on a healthy planet.

The world is also moving at long last beyond the mindset which viewed the burning of fossil fuels as the path to prosperity.  At a time of record heat, Member States have embraced the Paris Agreement on climate change in record time.  This landmark measure will enter into force on 4 November.  Across that historic threshold lies our best chance for greener, cleaner, low-carbon growth.

The United Nations is also in transition, from its eighth Secretary-General to the ninth.  I have been honoured to serve “we the peoples” for the past ten years.  Together, we have put in place some solid foundations for shared progress – which we must build on by working even harder to empower women, engage youth and uphold human rights for all.  But we have also suffered enormous heartbreak including unresolved conflicts causing immense suffering throughout the troubled Middle East, South Sudan, the Sahel and beyond.  On these and other frontlines of violence and disaster, courageous UN staff continue to rise to the occasion and respond to the plight of the vulnerable.

I thank people across the world for their support and urge all to give their full backing to Secretary-General-designate Antonio Guterres in continuing our global mission of peace, sustainable development and human rights.

 

António Guterres appointed next UN Secretary-General by acclamation

António Guterres appointed next UN Secretary-General The General Assembly today appointed by acclamation the former Prime Minister of Portugal, António Guterres, as the next United Nations Secretary-General, to succeed Ban Ki-moon when he steps down on 31 December.

Mr. Guterres, aged 67, was Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees from June 2005 to December 2015. He will become the world’s top diplomat on 1 January 2017, and hold that post for the next five years.

Thanking the General Assembly for appointing him as the next Secretary-General, Mr. Guterres said he was grateful to the Member States for their trust in him as well as for the transparent and open selection process they undertook.

“I believe this process means that the true winner today is the credibility of the UN. And it also made very clear to me that, as Secretary-General, having been chosen by all Member States, I must be at the service of them all equally and with no agenda but the one enshrined in the UN Charter,” said Mr. Guterres.

He also underlined that alleviating the suffering of the vulnerable people, in particular the refugees and those in conflict zones, and gender equality would remain key priorities for him during his tenure.

Secretary-General-designate Guterres also reiterated his belief in the values of peace, justice, human dignity, tolerance and solidarity, as well as his belief that diversity is a “tremendous asset” and not a threat.

The Secretary-General’s message on World Food Day

World-food-day-2016

As the global population expands, we will need to satisfy an increasing demand for food.  Yet, around the world, record-breaking temperatures, rising sea levels and more frequent and severe droughts and floods caused by climate change are already affecting ecosystems, agriculture and society’s ability to produce the food we need.  The most vulnerable people are world’s poorest, 70 per cent of whom depend on subsistence farming, fishing or pastoralism for income and food.

On this World Food Day, we highlight the close link between climate change, sustainable agriculture and food and nutrition security with the message that “The climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too.”  Without concerted action, millions more people could fall into poverty and hunger, threatening to reverse hard-won gains and placing in jeopardy our ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Agriculture and food systems must become more resilient, productive, inclusive and sustainable.  To bolster food security in a changing climate, countries must address food and agriculture in their climate action plans and invest more in rural development.  Targeted investments in these sectors will build resilience and increase the incomes and productivity of small farmers, lifting millions from poverty.  They will help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and safeguard the health and well-being of ecosystems and all people who depend on them.

Next month, the historic Paris Agreement on climate change will enter into force.  This will provide a much-needed boost to global efforts to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, limit temperature rise and promote climate-compatible sustainable agriculture.

On this World Food Day, I urge all Governments and their partners to take a holistic, collaborative and integrated approach to climate change, food security and equitable social and economic development.  The well-being of this generation and those to come depends on the actions we take now.  Only by working in partnership will we achieve a world of zero hunger and free from poverty, where all people can live in peace, prosperity and dignity.

Security Council recommends former Prime Minister of Portugal Guterres as next UN Secretary-General

António Guterres -  next UN Secretary-General6 October 2016 – The Security Council today formally chose the former Prime Minister of Portugal, António Guterres, as its nominee to be the next Secretary-General of the United Nations for a five-year term when incumbent Ban Ki-moon steps down on 31 December.

The recommendation, made in a resolution adopted in a private meeting by acclamation, now goes to the 193-member General Assembly for formal approval.

On an official visit to Italy, Mr. Ban said in Rome this morning that Mr. Guterres is “an excellent choice,” noting that the two had worked closely during Mr. Guterres “long and outstanding tenure” as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

“He showed deep compassion for the millions of people who were forced to leave their homes,” Mr. Ban said, adding: “His past experience as Prime Minister of Portugal, his extensive knowledge of world affairs and his keen intelligence will serve him to lead the United Nations at a crucial period.”

Under procedures for appointing the world body’s new chief, after the recommendation is transmitted from the Council to the Assembly, a draft resolution is issued for the Assembly to take action. After appropriate consultations with Member States, the Assembly President fixes a date for the draft to be taken up.

The last five Secretaries-General were appointed by the Assembly through a resolution adopted by consensus. A vote will take place only if a Member State requests it and a simple majority of those voting would be required for the Assembly to adopt the resolution. But the Assembly could decide that the decision requires a two-thirds majority. If a vote is taken, it will be by secret ballot.

The UN Charter, signed in 1945 as the foundation of the Organization, says relatively little about how a Secretary-General is to be selected, aside from Article 97, which notes that the candidate “shall be appointed by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.”

At its first session in 1946, the General Assembly was much more active in the selection process. It created resolution A/RES/1/11 determining that the Council take the lead in the selection process, agree on a single name in a private meeting, and pass that name down to the General Assembly for a vote.

Yesterday, Ambassador Vitaly Churkin of Russia, which holds the Security Council presidency for the month, informed the President of the Assembly, Peter Thomson, that after the sixth informal “straw poll” for the position of Secretary-General, Mr. Guterres had emerged as the clear favourite.

In addition to Mr. Guterres, 12 other candidates were in the running to succeed the current UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, who leaves office at the end of the year.

Today’s decision by the Security Council brings the UN closer towards the culmination of an historic process: the selection of a new United Nations Secretary-General, traditionally decided behind closed-doors by a few powerful countries, has for the first time in history, involved public discussions with each candidate campaigning for the world’s top diplomatic post.

These so-called ‘informal briefings’ between the candidates, UN Member States and civil society representatives kicked off on 12 April, when the first three candidates presented their ‘vision statements’ and answered questions on how they would promote sustainable development, improve efforts to create peace, protect human rights, and deal with huge humanitarian catastrophes should they be selected to lead the Organization.

In addition, this past July, the UN held its first-ever globally televised and webcast townhall-style debate in the General Assembly Hall, where the confirmed candidates at the time took questions from diplomats and the public at large.

Ahead of World Peace Day, UN chief says Global Goals are ‘building blocks for peace’

World Peace Day 2016Ahead of the International Day of Peace, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has stressed that each of the new global Sustainable Development Goals adopted a year ago by 193 countries are the “building blocks” for peace.

Mr. Ban said that every year on that day, the United Nations calls on warring parties around the world to observe a 24-hour ceasefire.

“But peace is not just about putting weapons aside. It is about building societies where people share the benefits of prosperity on a healthy planet,” Mr. Ban said in his message for the Day, observed annually on 21 September.

The UN system is marking the Day early this year, with a host of events that kicked off this morning in the Peace Garden at UN Headquarters, where Mr. Ban rang the Peace Bell and observed a minute of silence.

Women Nobel Peace Prize laureates and the United Nations Messengers of Peace have been invited to participate in the ceremony.

Mr. Ban sounded a call for peace and a day of non-violence before proceeding to ring the Bell. “You know best of all that peace is not an accident. Peace is not a gift. Peace is something we must all work for, every day, in every country,” he said.

While welcoming ceasefires – like the Cessation of Hostilities in Syria, the UN chief stressed that peace is about far more than putting weapons aside and that it involves the hard work of mediation, conflict resolution through diplomacy, reconciliation, peacebuilding and sustaining peace.

He said that he looks forward to visiting Cartagena, Colombia on 26 September for the signing of the historic peace agreement which ends the 50-year war between the Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army.

In addition, the UN Education Outreach Section will hold a global student videoconference, also at Headquarters.

The Education Outreach Section invited young people from around the world to submit videos on how the Sustainable Development Goals can build peace. The most engaging videos can be viewed on the UN International Day of Peace YouTube channel and a small selection will be shown at the global student videoconference.