25 September 2008

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York




Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at a celebration of the Millennium Development Goals hosted by Ray Chambers, in New York, 24 September:

Thank you, Your Majesty Queen Rania, for that very kind introduction and for all that you are doing for the children of the world.

Let me convey special thanks to my Special Envoy, Ray Chambers, the One Campaign, the Global Business Coalition, the United Nations Foundation and the other co-hosts -– not only for making tonight possible, but for working so tirelessly to fight disease and poverty.

I am honoured to be here with such an impressive group of people, but I am also a little intimidated.  It is easier for me to confront a dictator or travel to a war zone than speak in front of some of the best entertainers in the world.  But I’ll try.

We have a bad habit at the United Nations of using fancy terminology.  So if you ask how to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, here is the answer you get:  “Scale up key interventions through public-private partnerships.”

Not exactly an exciting slogan, I know.  But let’s give it a chance.

‘Scale up’ -– that just means building further on what works.

‘Key interventions’ –- those are the actions that have the biggest impact.

‘Public-private partnerships’ -- look around the room and you will see what that looks like.  I see some United Nations officials and other friends.  But, I also see plenty of people I’ve never met, which is great.

Some of you work in an office, some of you work in a classroom, and some of you rock and roll.  All of us are worried about this planet, and we all want to do something.  There you have a public-private partnership.

So what works?

Take malaria.  It kills two children every minute.  It takes an unspeakable toll on poor countries, especially in Africa.

But we are fighting back.  Ray Chambers is leading an effort on my behalf to bring together public and private partners to eliminate malaria deaths.  Our strategy is based on good science, the right funding, national action plans and global management.

Already we have seen major successes in this campaign.  It shows what we have to do to succeed.  Coordinate our agencies.  Get support from important countries.  Create new partnerships with the private sector and civil society.  Reach out to individuals.  Bring in other leaders.  And go to the press with a clear message.

We need resources, but it is not all about money.  We need ideas, publicity, expertise and most of all outreach.  I can never sing like Bono, and my audience will almost always be limited to Governments.

You can be my microphone.  You mobilize the public, the press, the faith community, students, workers and others.  You can tell national leaders meeting at the United Nations tomorrow that you are ready to help.

Your support is so important.  I’ve talked about successes, but we are in a development emergency.  Tens of millions of children are too poor to go to school.

Half a million women die each year –- that’s about one every minute –- because they can’t get health care to survive pregnancy or labour.  Each day, about 7,500 people get HIV.

Malaria kills two children a minute.  More than one in three people on the planet can’t get a clean drink of water.

I know it sounds overwhelming, but we’ve already made major progress.  Measles is down over 90 per cent in parts of Africa.  We are working to end malaria deaths.

Malawi used to be chronically short of food -– now they export it.  In Rwanda, women are drafting laws in Parliament.  And thanks to our partners in the private sector, we have massively increased vaccines for children in 70 countries.

Like I said, we need to scale up key interventions through public-private partnerships.  That means all of us, working together, to give the people of this world the life of dignity and hope they deserve.

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For information media • not an official record