|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Secretary-General, at Hungarian University, Urges Citizen Involvement
in Confronting Sustainable Development Challenges
Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, to Budapesti Corvinus University in Budapest on 8 October:
Nagyon köszönöm hogy Közgázos lehetek! [Thank you very much for letting me become a student of “Közgáz”! (informal name of the university)] I am deeply privileged by this recognition. I accept this honour on behalf of all my United Nations colleagues working for peace, development and human rights around the world. I also want to thank you for all you do at this prestigious university.
Corvinus University is well-known in Hungary, the region and far beyond for your outstanding academic tradition. Your alumni are contributing to the global good, including at the United Nations. One of your own, Professor Mihály Simai, is even the President of the United Nations Association of Hungary. And your institution is also a proud member of the United Nations Academic Impact initiative.
Today, Corvinus is training a new generation of leaders in social sciences, business, economics and many other vital fields. And you are utilizing a new generation of problem-solving by looking at challenges in an integrated, cross-disciplinary way. I was impressed by how Corvinus University describes its efforts. You have said “the common aim of the University is to create a better world to live in.”
I have a personal connection to the better world the people of Hungary have sought to build. This month marks the anniversary of the 1956 uprising. Back then, I was only 12 years old — perhaps not old enough to know the details of the revolution so far from my home in Korea. But I knew enough about the cause of freedom.
Our heart was with the people of Hungary. On behalf of my school, I sent a letter to the United Nations Secretary-General at the time: Dag Hammarskjöld. The letter appealed to him to support the brave people of Hungary. Exactly 50 years later, when I was elected United Nations Secretary-General, your Government recognized my very modest effort by designating me a “Hungarian Hero of Freedom”. It is a humble reminder to me that the struggle for human rights is constant everywhere; and all of us have an obligation to speak up for a better world.
As you may know, global leaders just came together in New York to do precisely that. Only a few days ago, the United Nations concluded the annual opening segment of the General Assembly session. Heads of State and Government shared their views and aspirations. I met with Government leaders representing 99 per cent of humanity.
But our meetings attracted others from all walks of life. Bill Gates came to focus on health and development challenges. Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani student shot by the Taliban, spoke about education for all. The famed musician Stevie Wonder highlighted the need to open doors for people with disabilities. Many business leaders pledged new commitments to advance corporate social responsibility. Many civil society leaders gave voice to vulnerable and marginalized people and communities. Millions more followed on social media, spreading the word and generating even more momentum on the issues.
We made historic, long-needed progress on Syria. After years of deadlock, the Security Council agreed to address the most significant use of chemical weapons in 25 years. We are now on a path to destroying all of Syria’s chemical weapons. This was a victory for diplomacy. But we know the people of Syria are still under assault.
That is why we are pushing hard to bring the parties together in Geneva next month to forge the way for lasting peace. At the same time, the United Nations is providing a life-line of humanitarian aid to millions of Syrians — and we are working to do even more.
There was another message I conveyed again and again during the last few weeks. As we address upheaval in Syria and other emergencies, we must also focus on our longer-term challenges — challenges that if we ignore will become greater than any we face today. None is more critical than sustainable development: promoting prosperity and social justice while protecting the environment.
That is what has brought me to Budapest. Hungary has organized the World Water Summit and is helping to lead the way on the larger sustainable development challenge. We are at a pivot point for global development.
The end of the year 2015 is the deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs. These goals were set at the turn of the century to cut poverty and hunger, empower women and girls, expand health and education, and protect our environment. There are many successes. Extreme poverty has been cut in half. More children are in school. More people have access to improved sources of water.
But many goals have lagged behind. Hardship and discrimination remain all too common. So we must do two things. First, spare no effort to reach the MDGs by the 2015 deadline. Second, define a new set of goals for the new set of challenges facing our world. Now more than ever, sustainable development — integrating economic development, social inclusion and environmental sustainability — must be our global guiding principle.
The new set of goals that will encapsulate our work must be bold in ambition yet simple in design. They must be universal in nature yet responsive to the complexities and needs of individual countries. They must be rights-based, with special emphasis on women, young people and marginalized groups. And they must protect the planet’s resources and support action to address climate change.
Last month, the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released an important report. It found that there is even greater scientific certainty that climate change is real, human activity is largely responsible, and it will get worse if left unaddressed.
That is why I am convening a Summit next year that will strive to generate momentum for a global climate change agreement in 2015, which Member States have promised to reach. Hungary is playing a crucial role on all these issues as co-chair of the United Nations group on framing the new sustainable development goals.
There simply is no greater priority in the twenty-first century. I want to commend your representative in New York, Ambassador Csaba Körösi, for helping to lead the negotiations. We also know there can be no peace without development and no development without peace. Allow me to commend Hungary for providing many peacekeepers now serving around the globe.
The sustainable development challenge reflects all the possibilities and potential of our new world. The dividing lines between issues are disappearing. Challenges are not confined within borders. Issues cannot be addressed in isolation. Solutions cannot come from Government alone. We need each other.
Long ago, the great Hungarian poet Attila Jozsef wrote: “To settle at last our communal affairs, remains our task — and none too small it is.” At the time, he was writing about the Hungarian people and their neighbours. But today “communal affairs” affect us all. We live in a global village.
I urge all of you to remember that you are not just citizens of Hungary, you are citizens of the world. Get involved. Turn your passion into compassion for our world. Be a global citizen. Help us foster peace among people and harmony with our planet. The world cannot wait. We must not defer. We must deliver.
Thank you for helping build a better world for all.
Nagyon köszönöm Közgáz! [Thank you very much, “Közgáz”!]
* *** *For information media • not an official record