UN chief urges meeting anti-poverty, sustainability goals and accord on climate change

Participants at the Women’s International Forum in New York. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

13 September 2013 – Ahead of next week’s opening of a new General Assembly session, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon detailed an agenda for Member States that includes achieving the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), shaping a shared vision for a universal sustainable development agenda and reaching a legally binding agreement on climate change.

In remarks to the Women’s International Forum in New York, Mr. Ban presented his key themes for the coming months, stressing that the United Nations “must do more than fight today’s fires. We must also look to a wider time horizon and act now to take on the longer-term challenges.”

The UN is currently in the 1,000 days of action to achieve the MDGs by the 2015 deadline, particularly in the areas that are lagging farthest behind, such as maternal mortality and sanitation.

Some 19,000 children under the age of five die daily from preventable diseases, while 2.5 billion people live without access to sanitation, according to UN figures.

In his remarks, Mr. Ban also highlighted the importance of shaping a “single and coherent universal agenda” with sustainable development at its core and accompanied by one concise set of goals.

“Whatever final form it takes, whatever set of goals are agreed, success rests fundamentally on ridding the world of discrimination against women and girls, and ensuring the protections and opportunities that are their right,” Mr. Ban told the organization which seems to promote understanding and mutual appreciation among members of the diplomatic community.

He noted a new milestone in the participation of women in the UN’s work for peace and security with, for the first time, one-third of the UN peacekeeping operations being headed by women.

The current head of the UN mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is Hilde Johnson, Karin Landgren heads UNMIL in Liberia, Lisa Buttenheim in Cyprus (UNFICYP), Aïchatou Mindaoudou in Cote d’Ivoire (UNOCI), and Sandra Honoré in Haiti (MINUSTAH).

In addition, Mary Robinson is Mr. Ban’s special envoy for Africa’s Great Lakes region, the first UN woman to serve as lead mediator in a peace process.

Also in his remarks, the UN chief noted his push for Member States to make good on their promise to reach a legally binding agreement on climate change.

“Current pledges are not enough to avoid catastrophe,” he told the forum, adding that he plans to convene a climate summit next year in New York for representatives of governments, finance, industry and civil society.

Climate change, as well as the MDGs and a post-2015 sustainable development feature on this month’s agenda for the General Assembly session, Mr. Ban said.

High-level meetings are also scheduled to focus on topics of importance to people with disabilities and on migration, as well as corporate citizenship and sustainability initiative.

Discussions will also focus on Syria, which Mr. Ban noted in his remarks, along with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Mali, the Middle East, Myanmar and Yemen.

This month also marks the 20th anniversary of the Vienna Conference on Human Rights, a landmark event that led to the establishment of the UN high commissioner for human rights.


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