A Global Agenda for Seven Billion
> Ban Ki-moon
> A Global
Agenda for Seven Billion
NEW YORK – Late next month, a child will be born – the 7th billion citizen
of planet Earth. We will never know the circumstances into which he or she
was born. We do know that the baby will enter a world of vast and
unpredictable change – environmental, economic, geopolitical, technological,
The world’s population has tripled since the United Nations was created in
1945. And our numbers keep growing, with corresponding pressures on land,
energy, food, and water. The global economy is generating pressures as well:
rising joblessness, widening social inequalities, and the emergence of new
These trends link the fate and future of today’s seven billion people as
never before. No nation alone can solve the great global challenges of the
twenty-first century. International cooperation is a universal need.
The 66th session of the UN General Assembly is a renewed opportunity for the
countries of the world to set aside narrow, short-term interests and commit
to cooperative efforts to address humanity’s long-term imperatives. At a
time when all nations are experiencing individual challenges, we need to
forge a worldwide common agenda that can help to ensure that the seven
billionth baby and future generations grow up in a world characterized by
sustainable peace, prosperity, freedom, and justice.
To help create this future, I am focusing my second term as
Secretary-General on five global imperatives – five generational
opportunities to shape the world of tomorrow by the decisions we make today.
The first and greatest of these imperatives is sustainable development. We
all must understand that saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty,
and advancing economic growth are one and the same fight. We must connect
the dots between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global
health, food security, and women’s empowerment. Solutions to one problem
must be solutions for all.
In the next five years, we need to create a new economic vision for
sustainable development and forge global consensus on a binding climate
change agreement. Fostering economic growth, realizing the Millennium
Development Goals, and combating climate change will all depend on creating
a new energy system for the twenty-first century and extending it to every
person on the planet.
Prevention as a framework for international cooperation is a second
opportunity. This year, the UN peacekeeping budget will total $8 billion.
Think of what we could save by avoiding conflicts – by deploying political
mediation missions, for example, rather than troops. We know how to do this.
Our record proves it – in Guinea, Kenya, and Kyrgyzstan.
A third imperative is building a safer and more secure world. In this
effort, we must be courageous in standing up for democracy, human rights,
and peace. This year was one of signature achievements in restoring and
securing peace – in Côte d’Ivoire, Darfur, Egypt, and elsewhere. But hatred
and bloodshed still stand in the way of our vision for peace.
In the Middle East, we must break the stalemate. Palestinians deserve a
state. Israel needs security. Both want peace. A negotiated settlement can
produce these outcomes, and the UN is a platform for forging such a peace.
So, too, will we continue our efforts to foster democratic governance in
Iraq, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Sierra Leone. And,
in the name of all of humanity, we will continue to push forward on nuclear
disarmament and non-proliferation, in service of realizing a world free of
The fourth big opportunity is supporting countries in transition. This
year’s dramatic events in North Africa and the Middle East inspired people
around the globe. Let us help make the Arab Spring a true season of hope for
In Libya, we are deploying a new UN support mission to assist the country’s
transitional authorities in establishing a new government and legal order,
consistent with the aspirations of the Libyan people. Syria is a special
concern. For six months we have seen escalating violence and repression. The
government has repeatedly pledged to undertake reforms and listen to its
people. It has not done so. The moment to act is now. The violence must
Last but not least is the imperative of working with and for women and young
Women hold up more than half the sky and represent much of the world’s
unrealized potential. We need their full engagement – in government,
business, and civil society. The UN has placed a high priority on promoting
women at all levels of the Organization and this year, for the first time,
UN Women is operating to promote the interests and rights of women all over
Seven billion people now look toward the United Nations for solutions to the
world’s great global challenges. They hold different religions and
backgrounds but common dreams and aspirations. Our global future depends on
bringing these individual talents and universal rights together in common
cause. Let our common agenda begin.
Ban Ki-moon is Secretary-General of the United Nations.
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Received on Tue Sep 27 2011 - 09:02:38 EDT