Category Archives: Secretary-General’s messages and statements

Secretary-General António Guterres cites multilateralism, teamwork as critical to achieving UN goals

Secretary-General António Guterres on his first day in officeOn his first day in office, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called for teamwork, telling staff at the world body’s New York Headquarters that it is not enough to the “do the right thing, we need to earn the right to do the right thing.”

“It is very important for us to recognize our achievements […] but we also need to recognize our shortcomings, to recognize our failures and where we are not able to deliver as we should,” he said, outlining the multitude of challenges – ranging from complex conflicts to global terrorism – confronting the world.

Mr. Guterres called on the entire Organization for a collective effort to address the shortcomings and underlined the need to reform the UN development system, as well as address bureaucratic constraints that hamper its performance, saying the world body must try and get rid of its “bureaucratic straight jacket.”

“There are no miracles […] and the only way for us to achieve our goals is to work as a team,” he said.

In his remarks, the UN chief also recalled the selection process that culminated with the UN General Assembly appointing him as the ninth chief of the global body in October last year. “I know that the way this selection process has been developed has raised a lot of expectations,” he noted.

“This requires a lot of efforts from ourselves but also a lot of dialogue with [UN] Members States and to overcome the divides that still exist in the Organization,” he added.

Mr. Guterres’ first day at UN Headquarters as Secretary General began with the laying of a wreath at the Memorial Wall in the Visitors’ Lobby.

Shortly after taking office two days ago, he made an appeal for peace. “Let us make 2017 a year in which we all – citizens, governments, leaders – strive to overcome our differences,” Mr. Guterres said Sunday morning, urging people to share his New Year’s resolution: “Let us resolve to put peace first.”

He will serve for a five-year period until 31 December 2021. He was Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees from June 2005 to December 2015. He succeeds Ban Ki-moon who served as the Secretary-General from 2007 until 31 December 2016.

Let us make 2017 a year for peace: UN Chief Antonio Guterres

UN Chief Antonio GuterresOn my first day as Secretary General of the United Nations, one question weighs heavily on my heart:

How can we help the millions of people caught up in conflict, suffering massive wars with no end in sight?

Civilians are pounded with deadly force. Women, children and men are killed and injured, forced from their homes, dispossessed and destitute.

And even hospitals and aid convoys are targeted.

No one wins these wars. Everyone loses. Trillions of dollars are spent destroying societies and economies, fueling cycles of mistrust and fear that can last for generations.

And whole regions are destabilized, and the new threat of global terrorism affects us all.

On this New Years’ Day, I ask all of you to join me in making one shared New Year’s resolution: let us resolve to put peace first.

Let us make 2017 a year in which we all – citizens, governments, leaders – strive to overcome our differences.

From solidarity and compassion in our daily lives to dialogue and respect across political divides, from ceasefires on the battlefield to compromise at the negotiating table to reach political solutions, peace must be our goal and our guide.

And all that we strive for as a human family – dignity and hope, progress and prosperity – depends on peace. But peace depends on us.

I appeal to you all to join me in committing to peace today and every day. Let us make 2017 a year for peace!

 

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.

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.

The Secretary-General’s message on International Day of Democracy

International Day of DemocracyA year ago, the world’s Governments agreed on an ambitious sustainable development agenda for the next 15 years. They recognized that what people want is not so complicated — but that it does require a transformation of how our economies and societies work.

People want food and shelter; education and health care and more economic opportunity.  They want to live without fear.  They want to be able to trust their Governments and global, national and local institutions.  They want full respect for their human rights and they are rightly demanding a greater say in the decisions that affect their lives. 

Each of the Sustainable Development Goals on its own reflects fundamental desires shared by people everywhere. Together, the 17 Goals  make up an intricate tapestry of challenges, choices and opportunities that people encounter in their everyday lives.  Delivering a better tomorrow will require integrated responses to interconnected challenges. 

Democratic principles run through the Agenda like a golden thread, from universal access to public goods, health care and education, as well as safe places to live and decent work opportunities for all. Goal 16 addresses democracy directly: it calls for inclusive societies and accountable institutions.  

The Goals demonstrate an important dynamic: effective democratic governance enhances quality of life for all people; and human development is more likely to take hold if people are given a real say in their own governance, and a chance to share in the fruits of progress.  

Our new Agenda aims to leave no one behind, which means we must reach those who are rarely seen or heard, and who have no voice or group to speak on their behalf. The implementation of the Goals must be underpinned by a strong and active civil society that includes the weak and the marginalized. We must defend civil society’s freedom to operate and do this essential job. 

On this International Day of Democracy, let us rededicate ourselves to democracy and dignity for all.

 

The Secretary-General’s message on International Literacy Day

Literacy Day 2016This year, the world has embarked on implementing the ambitious and transformational 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  With its 17 universal, integrated and interdependent Sustainable Development Goals, the 2030 Agenda is an action plan for people, planet, partnership and peace.

Literacy stands at heart of the 2030 Agenda.  It is a foundation for human rights, gender equality, and sustainable societies.  It essential to all our efforts to end extreme poverty and promote well-being for all people.  That is why the Sustainable Development Goals aim for universal access to quality education and learning opportunities throughout people’s lives.

One of the targets of Sustainable Development Goal 4 is to ensure that all young people achieve literacy and numeracy and that a substantial proportion of adults who lack these skills are given the opportunity to acquire them.

Fifty years ago, International Literacy Day was proclaimed to promote literacy as a tool to empower individuals, communities and societies.  We have made significant progress over the past five decades, but the world is still very far from universal literacy.  And today, with the world becoming increasingly digitized and information rich, new opportunities and challenges are emerging.

More than 750 million adults are illiterate, including 115 million young people.  Two thirds are female.  Some 250 million children of primary school age lack basic literacy skills and 124 million children and adolescents receive no schooling at all.

These obstacles to sustainable development can and must be overcome by developing and implementing the right policies, backed up by commitment and resources.  We need to ensure that those out of school get access to quality learning opportunities, we need to improve the quality of schooling, and we need to promote adult education and learning.

On this International Literacy Day, I call on governments and their partners, including in the private sector, to join forces for universal literacy so we can translate the vision of the 2030 Agenda into reality and build peaceful, just, inclusive and sustainable societies.

Secretary-General’s Message for the 100-day countdown to the International Day of Peace (13 June)

SG's Message for the 100-day countdown to the International Day of Peace

Every year on the International Day of Peace, the United Nations calls on the peoples of the world to remember their common humanity and join together to build a future free of strife. It calls on all of us to observe a day of global ceasefire and non-violence, and to honour a cessation of hostilities for the duration of the Day.

This year’s theme – the Sustainable Development Goals: Building Blocks for Peace – highlights how ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring broadly shared prosperity all contribute to global harmony.  When we all work together, we can make peace possible, starting with 24 hours of peace on September 21.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals were unanimously adopted by the 193 Member States of the United Nations at an historic summit in September 2015. They are universal, applying to all countries. And they are integral to achieving peace.

SDG #16 specifically focuses on “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions”. Yet peace runs like a thread through all 17 of the Goals.

When people feel secure in their abilities to provide for their families, when they are given access to the resources they need to live healthy lives, and when they feel truly included in their societies, then they are much less likely to engage in conflict.

That is why, over the next 100 days, we must recognize that development and peace are interdependent and mutually reinforcing. We need to work together to help promote and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The leaders of the world have given us a clear blueprint, and by following it, we can help build a future of peace and prosperity.

Ban Ki-moon

The Secretary-General’s message on International Day of Sport for Development and Peace

International Day of Sport for Development and Peace 2016Sport is a unique and powerful tool for promoting dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of every member of the human family.  It is a driving force for positive social change.  That is why some of the world’s greatest sportsmen and women have been, and remain, engaged in helping the United Nations to raise awareness on important issues such as hunger, HIV-AIDS, gender equality and environmental stewardship.

This year the world is embarking on a major new challenge – implementing the visionary 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  United Nations Member States have adopted 17 universal Sustainable Development Goals to build a future of peace, justice, dignity and opportunity for all.  Together, they provide a set of integrated and indivisible priorities for people, planet, prosperity, partnership and peace.

To reach these global goals, we must engage all sectors of society, everywhere.  Sport has an essential role to play.  Sport promotes health and well-being.  It fosters tolerance, mutual understanding and peace.  It contributes to social inclusion and equality.  It empowers women and girls and persons with disabilities.  It is a vital part of quality education in schools.  It empowers, inspires and unites.

On this third International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, I urge Governments, organizations, businesses, and all actors in society to harness the values and power of sport to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.  By working – and playing – together, we can create the future we want.

The Secretary-General’s message on World Radio Day

World Radio Day 2016In times of crisis and emergency, radio can be a lifeline.

For people in shattered societies, or caught in catastrophe, or desperately seeking news, radio brings lifesaving information.

Radio can help in emergency response operations – and it can assist with rebuilding.

Through community radio, local people can raise their voices and be heard.

This year, as we start carrying out the Sustainable Development Goals, let us resolve to use radio for human progress.

In the lead-up to the World Humanitarian Summit this May, let us find ways for radio to do even more to help people in emergencies.

On this World Radio Day, let us resolve to prove that radio saves lives.

 

The Secretary-General’s message on World Cancer Day

World Cancer Day 2016World Cancer Day, always an opportunity to rally the world, has special impetus this year thanks to the recent adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which aims to usher in a life of dignity for all people.

The Sustainable Development Goals endorsed by all governments call for reducing by one third premature death from non-communicable diseases. This builds on an historic commitment made in 2011 by Heads of State. We are also guided by the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health, and the Every Woman Every Child movement behind it, which are working for stronger health systems, universal health care coverage and scaling up of life-saving interventions for comprehensive cancer prevention and control.

We must do more to end the many tragedies that cancer inflicts. About one third of cancers can be prevented, while others are curable if diagnosed and treated early. And even when cancer is advanced, patients should benefit from palliative care.

Cancer affects all countries, but those with fewer resources are hit hardest. Nothing illustrates this better than the burden of cervical cancer. The world’s poorest countries are home to more than 8 in 10 women newly diagnosed with cervical cancer, and 9 in 10 deaths from the disease.

While applauding the success of cervical cancer screening in many high-income countries, we have a responsibility to replicate this progress in low-income States, where cervical cancer remains one of the most common cancers among women.

Today, we have the knowledge, experience and tools to protect every woman, everywhere. Comprehensive cervical cancer prevention includes vaccines to protect girls against future infection with the human papilloma virus (HPV), screening measures and preventive treatment of pre-cancers.

Where a person lives should not determine if they develop a cancer or die from it. We must work together to eliminate cervical cancer as a public health issue and to reduce the burden that millions face from all cancers.

On World Cancer Day, let us resolve to end the injustice of preventable suffering from this disease as part of our larger push to leave no one behind.