19 October 2010
Secretary-General
SG/SM/13190

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

Secretary-General Addresses European Parliament on Major Global Challenges

 


This is the text of an address by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today to the European Parliament, in Strasbourg, France:


Good afternoon, buenas tardes, bonjour, gueta dag.


Je suis très honoré de m’adresser au Parlement européen.  Estoy muy feliz de estar en Estrasburgo.  It is a great honour to be here addressing the European Parliament.


Vous avez été dépêchés à Strasbourg par les citoyens de vos pays afin de construire une Europe plus forte pour le XXIe siècle.


J’y suis venu, moi, parce que vous êtes la voix démocratique de la population européenne, soit près d’un demi-milliard de personnes.  Vous adoptez des budgets, vous légiférez et vous délibérez avec une fougue extraordinaire.


Vous êtes le lien indispensable entre les dimensions mondiale, régionale et locale.  Vous êtes un puissant vecteur de paix, de stabilité et de prospérité dans votre propre région.


Et vous jouez un rôle déterminant dans la formulation de politiques dont la portée dépasse largement vos frontières.


Vos responsabilités ne feront que croître étant donné les possibilités qu’ouvre le Traité de Lisbonne.


Nous nous félicitons de ces progrès.


The United Nations and the European Union are natural partners.  We are making a real difference for people all around the world.


Millions of poor girls and boys are in school, millions of young children are being immunized against deadly diseases, thousands of soldiers are keeping the peace from Lebanon to Central Africa to Cyprus and beyond, all as a result of our partnership and Europe’s extraordinary generosity and leadership.  That work must deepen and grow.


We are confronting many challenges, multiple crises.  But something else is happening — a light bulb moment around the world.  Country after country, leader after leader, is coming to recognize that the best way to address our challenges is by taking them on together, with the United Nations and all the members of the European Union.  No nation, no group, no region can do it alone.  If we share in the burden, we will share in the benefits.  So, today, I would like to talk about solidarity.  How, together, the European Union and the United Nations can address the real fears of real people.


Everywhere, we see currents of concern.  Jobs are scarce.  Tensions are high.  People are hurting, angry and disillusioned.  That has led to an erosion of trust in institutions, in leaders, and among neighbours.  These are testing times, even in a prosperous region like Europe.  I believe we can pass the test.


Together we have framed a vision for our work — a precise definition of the overarching challenges of our time.  We have mobilized global support for common action.  And let me be clear:  We are beholden to the people, who rightly demand results.


Now is not the time for simply delivering speeches — now is the time to implement those speeches and now is the time for delivering action.  I would like to focus on three global challenges that we must address together.  First, tackling extreme poverty around the world; second, confronting climate change; and third, building a world free of nuclear weapons.  Let me be specific.


First, the poverty challenge.  Last month, world leaders gathered in New York for the most significant global development summit in a decade.  There is good news:  major progress in combating extreme poverty and hunger, in school enrolment and child health, clean water and fighting malaria, tuberculosis and HIV.  Yet achievements are uneven.  Obstacles stand in the way.


Global trade talks have stagnated, locking in place harmful subsidies and an unfair regime that deny developing countries new opportunities.  Rising prices are putting essential medicines out of reach of many of the neediest.  Nearly 1 billion people go to bed hungry every night.  And this year alone, an additional 64 million people will fall into extreme poverty.  All of this calls for a renewed push to achieve the Goals by the deadline of 2015.


At the recent Millennium Development Goals summit, that is precisely what we agreed.  We will boost resources and accountability.  I commend those members of the European Union that made strong commitments despite fiscal pressures.  We can tighten belts without closing our eyes to common challenges.


I ask all of you to support the United Nations where action is urgently and especially needed.  We must focus on employment-centred growth — decent work.  Investment in clean and renewable energy is crucial for jumpstarting jobs and innovation.  Where people go hungry, we must help — help people help themselves.  Thank you for your investment in the European Union Food Facility in the amount of €1 billion.  And we must put resources where they will have the greatest impact — in particular, the health and empowerment of women.  Last month, we received $40 billion in pledges over the next five years for our Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health.  This is the most stubborn of the Millennium Development Goals.


Some might say, go for the easy wins.  But I don’t believe in declaring victory that way.  We must strive for the hardest to reach goals, the hardest to reach people, in the hardest to reach places.  We can save the lives of more than 16 million women and children.


Our second great challenge is climate change.  Here, too, Europe’s vision and voice have been central.  Scientists warn that the extreme weather we have witnessed in many countries could be the opening act on our future.  We have seen raging fires in Russia.  Epic floods in Pakistan.  We must always be careful, however, about linking specific weather events to climate change.  But neither should we avert our eyes from what is plain to see.


The message is clear:  the more we delay, the more we will have to pay — in competitiveness, in resources and in human lives.  We must take action now to reduce climate risks, strengthen our resilience, and support developing countries in pursuing clean energy growth.  Copenhagen was not perfect, but it provided an important basis for moving forward.


Since then, there has been progress on important implementation issues such as adaptation, technology cooperation, steps to reduce deforestation.  Movement has been slower on mitigation commitments, long-term financing monitoring and verification and the future of the Kyoto Protocol.


At the upcoming United Nations climate change conference in Cancun, we must capture progress on those issues where there is consensus and on those issues still unresolved, Governments must agree on how they will move forward to resolve them.  I call on all parties to show flexibility, solidarity, and muster the courage to compromise if needed.  The health, security and prosperity of millions of people depend on it.  There is no time to waste.


Most immediately, finance is crucial for building trust and spurring action. There is a wide gap of trust between the developing and developed world.  The quickest way to bridge this gap is through providing financial support to those who do not have any capacities.  I call upon all developed countries, including those represented in this Parliament, to provide their fair share of the $30 billion in fast-track financing pledged at Copenhagen for 2010-2012.


Many view this as a litmus test of industrialized countries’ commitment to progress in the broader negotiations.  We have to also generate $100 billion annually by 2020.  This was a promise by the developed world made in Copenhagen.  My High-Level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing has been working this year and they will come out with several options on how to generate $100 billion annually by 2020.  Climate change is a crucial part of the broader agenda on sustainable development.  That is why I recently established a new High Level Panel on Global Sustainability, co-chaired by President [Tarja] Halonen of Finland and President [Jacob] Zuma of South Africa.  Their job will be to connect the many different dots which are interconnected to find the right path through the interlinked economic, social and environmental challenges of the coming decades.  In all this, Europe’s leadership — your leadership — will be essential.


Europe has been a historic engine of growth and change.  Now, when Governments are not moving when the train has hit the buffers in our talks on climate change or other issues — Europe can be the locomotive, driving it forward.  You can push, you can pull, you can get the train back on track.  You can keep us moving in the right direction.


We are also advancing together on building not only a cleaner world, but a safer one.  This is our third global challenge that I wish to bring to you today.  The goal of achieving a world free of nuclear weapons.  That is a subject of great interest to the members of this Parliament.  I commend you for speaking out on disarmament issues, posing timely questions and urging new progress.


Thank you for your resolution of April 2009, which supported total nuclear disarmament and cited the proposal for a Nuclear Weapons Convention.  Today, there is new momentum in fulfilling disarmament commitments.  This progress will continue if, and only if, the voices of the people are fully reflected in national and regional issues.  And if the half billion voices in the European Union speak out in harmony on this issue — joined by voices from other regions.


I welcome support for my five-point proposal on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation from many leaders, including the Inter-Parliamentary Union.  We are working to eliminate other weapons of mass destruction, curb trade in small arms and light weapons and counter the risk that nuclear materials could fall into the hands of terrorists.  Let us move beyond our over-armed and underdeveloped age to a more secure world for all.


These are big challenges and great goals.  Diverse issues with a common denominator:  global solidarity.  We rise or fall together.  So we must guard against division — division around the world, division within societies, communities.


Almost seven years ago, my predecessor Kofi Annan stood before you.  In his address, he made an impassioned call for Europe to seize the opportunities presented by immigration and to resist those who demonized these newcomers as “the other”.  I wish I could report, today, that the situation in Europe has improved over the intervening years.  But as a friend of Europe, I share profound concern.  It is almost a cliché to say that the birth of the European Union ended centuries of war and brought lasting peace to the continent.  Yet it remains a profound truth and a beacon of hope.


Europe has served as an extraordinary engine of integration, weaving together nations and cultures into a whole that is far, far greater than the sum of its parts.  But for Europe, “winning the peace” was the narrative of the last century.  The twenty-first century European challenge is tolerance within.  Inclusion, building diverse communities, is as complex a task as the one Europe faced after the Second World War.  None of this is easy.


Migrants suffer disproportionately, whether from within Europe or beyond.  Unemployment.  Discrimination.  Unequal opportunities in schools and the workplace.  And a dangerous trend is emerging.  A new politics of polarization.


Some play on people’s fears.  They seek to invoke liberal values for illiberal causes.  They accuse immigrants of violating European values.  Yet too often, it is the accusers who subvert these values — and thus the very idea of what it means to be a citizen of the European Union.  Europe’s darkest chapters have been written in language such as this.  Today, the primary targets are immigrants of the Muslim faith.  Europe cannot afford stereotyping that closes minds and breeds hatred.  And the world cannot afford a Europe that does this.


L’Europe moderne est fondée sur les droits de l’homme et sur des valeurs empreintes d’humanité.


Notre ambition est donc celle d’un continent uni, et non divisé par des différences ethniques ou religieuses.


Une Union dans laquelle tous les enfants, quelle que soit l’origine de leurs parents, ont les mêmes chances de réussite.


Une Union forte, unie, dynamique pour le XXIe siècle.


J’ai confiance dans le modèle européen dans l’Europe qui représente non seulement une entité géographique, mais aussi un idéal.


Nous traversons des temps difficiles.  C’est justement parce qu’ils sont difficiles, que nous devons continuer à faire preuve de solidarité.


Nous devons être à la hauteur des défis mondiaux.  J’en ai evoqué trois aujourd’hui:  la lutte contre la pauvreté, les changements climatiques, et la réalisation d’un monde sans armes nucléaires.


J’en appelle à vous, parlementaires européens.  Faites preuve de leadership et de solidarité aussi bien en Europe qu’au delà.


Comme nous le rappelle Albert Schweitzer, illustre alsacien, « Le premier pas dans l’évolution des règles d’éthique est un sentiment de solidarité avec d'autres êtres humains. »


Je ne doute pas que l’Europe, symbole de solidarité, saura se montrer à la hauteur.


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For information media • not an official record