|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Heralding Great Progress, Secretary-General Calls World to Action
in 1,000-Day Countdown to Millennium Development Goals Deadline
Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the Millennium Development Goals 1,000 Days of Action event, in New York on 12 April:
Thank you for your coming together for action to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
I’d like to thank the Ambassadors of Australia and Rwanda, who are representing their respective Heads of State and Government, President [Paul] Kagame and Prime Minister [Julia] Gillard, who are working as co-chairs of the MDG Advocacy Group. And I really appreciate their respective leadership in leading this MDG Advocacy group.
Over the past week, people have gathered around the world to mark the 1,000 days to the MDG deadline. The moment has been marked in many creative ways — from festivals to social media campaigns to round-table discussions.
The MDG Advocates have also raised their voice for action. I took part in several events myself.
As we have just seen, just last Thursday, I met with a group of young people, who are very committed to the MDGs, committed to working with the United Nations to realize their ambitions and their aspirations by helping achieve the MDGs. That was done in Madrid on the occasion of the CEB. All the heads of agencies and funds and programmes of the United Nations System gathered in Madrid to be part of this very important event.
On Friday, last Friday, the start of the 1,000-day effort, I wanted to reach out to someone who embodies so much of the hopes of the MDGs — someone who has shown that to meet our goals, we must empower women and girls; we must speak out for justice; we must stand up to forces of division and discord.
And so, I decided to call Malala Yousafzai, and spoke with her via Skype. Her father was also beside her and she shared with me her strong passion and resolve for education for girls and boys. I really wanted to meet her earlier, but because of my schedule I couldn’t. But, I was able to speak with her and she was very strong and courageous and I was very much impressed. You know one day you may be able to see her in the United Nations — I invited her.
On Saturday, and I hope it was shown here, you would have been able to see me kicking a ball. It was not just for playing soccer. I kicked a ceremonial kick-off took at the Real Madrid games against Levante. It was a unique experience. I have been speaking to many people; grown-up people, even 1,000, sometimes more than 1,000 people, but I have never performed anything before 90,000 people. Anyway, I was able to kick-off with the sincere wish that we all together kick out global poverty and by scoring the goals. In fact, you know Real Madrid scored many goals, in fact, many goals; that was my sincere wish, that we need to score the goals, the Millennium Development Goals and kick out poverty by kicking off this 1,000-day action for MDGs.
Now I also carried the 1,000 days message to my meetings with Pope Francis in Rome on Tuesday, and yesterday I discussed with President [Barack] Obama on this very important agenda of MDG and Sustainable Development Goals. I explained to him that I did this and that event. But, do you know what kind of a gift I have given him? I received a nice book from him. I told him, Mr. President, you are a very busy man, you may just forget about all these MDGs. I really wanted to remind him all the time, so I found a very creative way. I delivered two T-shirts with the MDG logo and the names Malia and Sasha printed on them, and a soccer ball.
My family even got into the act. My granddaughter was born on the 999-day milestone. She was due a bit later, but it seems she couldn’t wait to join us in spreading the 1,000 days message!
Cynics expected the MDGs to be abandoned. Some said they were too ambitious. They were too lofty. Well, they were wrong.
Thanks to the hard work of Governments, civil society and other partners around the world — the MDGs have mobilized action and achieved results.
Global poverty has been cut in half. We have improved access to drinking water and conditions for people living in slums. More girls are in school. Child and maternal mortality is declining dramatically.
Yet, we continue to struggle against extreme poverty, inequality and insufficient access to sanitation. Climate change remains a clear and present danger.
Now is the time for MDG Momentum. We now have less than 1,000 days to close the gaps and accelerate action. That means scaling up success. Empowering women and girls. Keeping fiscal promises. And mobilizing people from Governments to the grassroots.
The ideas and inspiration of young people are especially critical. I also look forward to the ongoing work of the MDG Advocacy Group and all our MDG Advocates.
Action now will add momentum as we look beyond 2015 to the challenges of sustainable development. So I ask you today to make a pledge with me:
Over these next 1,000 days, let us give 1,000 per cent.
* *** *For information media • not an official record