27 October 2008

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



Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the concert for United Nations Day, in New York, 24 October:

I am delighted to welcome all of you to the United Nations on this sixty-third anniversary of our Organization.

Happy United Nations Day to all of you!

A special warm welcome to Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, who will set our celebration to music tonight.  Yo-Yo Ma is one of my Messengers of Peace, and I thank him for his outstanding contribution to global harmony and understanding through the universal language of music.

I cannot think of a better way to express the rich tapestry of our United Nations than to draw on the heritages of the Silk Road countries, from the Mediterranean to the Pacific.  I salute Yo-Yo Ma for this magnificent initiative.

And I am glad that the leaders of the entire United Nations family are with us this evening, as they have gathered for our biannual meeting of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board.

This is a crucial year in the life of our United Nations.  We have just passed the midpoint in the struggle to reach the Millennium Development Goals -- our common vision for building a better world in the twenty-first century.

Many countries are still not on track to reach these Millennium Development Goals by the target date of 2015.  That is why our success at last month’s high-level MDG event was so important.  We brought together a broad coalition for change.  Governments, CEOs and civil society.  And we generated unprecedented commitment in pledges and partnerships to help the world’s poor.

Partnerships like this are the way of the future.  We also need them to address climate change, as we approach critical conferences later this year and next in Poznan and Copenhagen.

Amid the pressures of the current global financial crisis, some ask how we can afford to tackle climate change.  The better question is: how can we afford not to?

The science of climate change is clear.  The economic case for action is equally compelling.

At a time when the global economy is struggling, we need growth.

At a time when unemployment in many nations is rising, we need new jobs.

At a time when poverty threatens to overtake hundreds of millions of people, especially in the least developed world, we need the promise of prosperity.

Ushering in an era of green growth can help across this agenda.  The potential is at our fingertips.

The financial crisis must not deter us from the fight against poverty and climate change.  It is our job, at the United Nations, to ensure that this does not happen.

We must defend the defenceless, and give voice to the voiceless.  In the urgency of the moment, we cannot neglect those who are most vulnerable.

As we seek to reform the international monetary and financial system, we must act in global solidarity, in a spirit of inclusive multilateralism.

Never have leadership and partnership been more important. There is no time to lose. The United Nations must deliver results for a safer, healthier, more prosperous world.

May the music of Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble inspire us in our mission.

Please enjoy the music this evening.  Thank you very much.

* *** *

For information media • not an official record