Communication for Sustainable Development

At Time of Global Uncertainty, Investing in People, Clean Technologies Can Create Jobs, Finance Sustainable Development, Says Secretary-General at Headquarters

Following are Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the Special High-Level Meeting of the Economic and Social Council with the Bretton Woods Institutions, the World Trade Organization and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, in New York, 12 March:

I am pleased to welcome you all to the United Nations.

The world has changed dramatically since the last time we met, one year ago.

The Arab awakening showed the power of people to write history.

Those who took to the streets were mainly youth.  Women were at the forefront.  All of them were risking their lives.  Too many died for freedom and democracy. 

Their basic yearning for rights and dignity reverberated around the world.

Your meeting should address global stability in the broadest sense.

Poverty, discrimination and violence feed on each other.

You have chosen to focus on two critical themes that can help break this vicious cycle:  1) promoting economic growth, jobs and trade; and 2) financing sustainable development.

First, jobs.  Employment is critical.  We urgently need policies that generate jobs.  Decent jobs which pay enough for people to survive and thrive.

Decent and productive jobs do more than protect families from hunger and suffering — they create a generation of consumers.  People with purchasing power who can drive up demand.  Policies should support the small and medium-sized companies that generate the most employment and income opportunities.

Official development assistance also remains vital.  And we need to pay more attention to the principles of responsible borrowing and lending.

Second, financing sustainable development.  Now is the moment for decisive action.  It has been 20 years since the first Earth Summit.  The stakes are rising.  We have 100 days to Rio+20.  One hundred days to a once-in-a-generation opportunity.  We must agree on sustainable solutions to build the future we want — for the environment, the economy and equity. 

You in this room have the power to help make Rio+20 a success.  I urge you to engage.

Sustainable development means nutrition for poor children, safe drinking water, health care in communities.  And sustainable development demands policies that boost economic growth without degrading our environment.

We can unlock progress on all of these fronts with policies that spark progress on green technologies.  This is the cutting edge of innovation.

People need access to technology — with help to make the best use of new advances.

I also call for progress on sustainable energy.  My Sustainable Energy for All initiative sets three clear targets for 2030.  First, ensure universal access to modern energy services.  Second, double the rate of improvement in energy efficiency.  And third, double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

This can help us turn the tide on climate change.  But to do that, we also need to reach the agreed target of $100 billion a year in public and private funds for mitigation and adaptation.

We meet at a time of global uncertainty.

Declining prospects for economic growth, particularly in developed countries, are threatening the fragile recovery from the world financial and economic crisis.

At the same time, there is little improvement in global labour markets. Youth unemployment remains exceptionally high around the world.  Last year, nearly 75 million youth were unemployed.

By investing in people and clean technologies, we can create jobs and finance sustainable development.

I will follow with interest your discussions on these important issues.  And I hope you carry them forward on the road to Rio and beyond.


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