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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Paris (France)

13 July 2008


Remarks at the Thematic Segment of the Launch of the Union for the Mediterranean

Monsieur le Président,

Chefs d'Etat et de Gouvernement,

Mesdames et Messieurs,

C'est un grand plaisir pour moi de me joindre à vous à l'occasion du lancement de l'Union pour la Méditerranée. Cette nouvelle initiative promet de jeter une passerelle entre des régions diverses et dynamiques, et d'établir des liens entre des défis intersectoriels cruciaux.

Je salue President Sarkozy pour son initiative.

Nous sommes entrés dans une ère où les problèmes – le développement, la sécurité alimentaire, d'eau et d'energie, ils sont extraordinaires et interdépendants. Alors que la date butoir pour atteindre les objectifs du Millénaire pour le développement a été fixée à 2015, à mi-course, un grand nombre de pays ne sont même pas en passe d'en réaliser un seul. Le coût astronomique du carburant menace la croissance mondiale, et par conséquent, notre capacité de continuer à sortir les pauvres de la misère.

These issues are too big and too complex for any one country or government to address on its own. Instead, they require concerted and collective effort of the kind envisioned by the new Union for the Mediterranean. Your initiative brings together a diversity of cultures, experiences and world views that is, I believe, fundamental to any effort to understand and address today's transnational problems.

The global food crisis is one such challenge. It requires us to act now and together to increase food security in the Mediterranean region and in the world. If we do not act now, we will pay an unacceptably high price.

Last month, world leaders -- including many who are here today -- gathered in Rome to pledge six billion dollars to supply emergency aid to feed the poorest and to develop long-term solutions to the food crisis. These pledges must now be turned into immediate food assistance, as well as seeds, fertilizer and irrigation for smallholder farmers in countries worst affected by the food crisis.

It is also high time to reverse the dramatic and deplorable downward trend in investment in agriculture and rural infrastructure. On 8 July, President Sarkozy and other G8 leaders committed to reversing the overall decline of aid and investment in the agricultural sector.

I have urged G8 leaders and international donors to build on this commitment and raise the proportion of ODA to agriculture from three percent to at least 10 percent. Supporting greater investment in agriculture and rural infrastructure is critical to improving food security. I urge European countries to help us realize this goal.

Similarly, Europe can also support the world's farmers by minimizing export restrictions and levies on food commodities; and reducing agricultural subsidies and thereby freeing new resources for agricultural investment in low income, food insecure countries.

Of course, advances in agricultural output can only be sustained by simultaneously addressing another looming crisis – the challenge of securing safe and plentiful water for all.

High population growth, unsustainable consumption, pollution and poor management all threaten the world's clean water sources. Now, climate change is making a bad situation worse.

Addressing climate change has become crucial to promoting food and water security for all. We need to increase investments in cleaner, more sustainable energy sources that can sustain global growth while reducing carbon emissions. We must also help developing countries “green” their economies by spreading climate-friendly technologies as broadly as possible. Above all, we must negotiate a new, comprehensive agreement on climate change to be adopted in Copenhagen in December 2009 -- one that enters into force by the time the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

Chefs d'Etat et de Gouvernement,

Mesdames et Messieurs,

Certes nous sommes face à une situation d'urgence en matière de développement, mais si la communauté internationale agit de façon soudée, nous pouvons encore combler le retard accumulé et repartir sur la bonne voie pour atteindre les Objectifs Millénaires du Développement d'ici à 2015. Une combinaison judicieuse de programmes et des ressources adéquates permettraient un tel revirement.

Je vous invite instamment à unir vos forces pour faire preuve de créativité et agir avec audace. L'avenir de notre planète est, littéralement, entre vos mains.

J'ai hâte d'entendre vos idées sur ces questions.

Je vous remercie.