Richest Countries Must Take Bold Steps to Resolve Financial Crisis, Shoulder Their Full Share of Responsibility for Financial System’s Health, Says Secretary-General

17 October 2011
SG/SM/13880

Richest Countries Must Take Bold Steps to Resolve Financial Crisis, Shoulder Their Full Share of Responsibility for Financial System’s Health, Says Secretary-General

17 October 2011
Secretary-General
SG/SM/13880
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Richest Countries Must Take Bold Steps to Resolve Financial Crisis, Shoulder Their

Full Share of Responsibility for Financial System’s Health, Says Secretary-General

Following is the statement by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the 125th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, in Bern, 17 October:

Thank you, Mr. President, for your leadership and very kind words about me and the United Nations.  You can count on me in working together with IPU (Inter-Parliamentary Union) in furthering our collaborative relationship and dealing with all global challenges.

Mr. Mayor, thank you very much for your warm welcome and hospitality to this most beautiful city.  You know that the Secretary-General should be very impartial, so I would not say that [Bern is the] most beautiful city, but definitely I am very much impressed by such beauty and eco-friendly policies which you have been leading.

I know that this is your 125th session of IPU and that is a milestone by any standard.  My sincere congratulations to all the members of IPU and distinguished parliamentarians.

The United Nations Charter begins with the words, “We the Peoples”.  That is why, wherever I go, I seek out parliamentarians. 

You represent the peoples’ voice, the peoples’ hopes, and the peoples’ will.

Today, too many of our citizens live in fear.  Too many are paralyzed by uncertainty, angry at their diminished prospects.

Here in Europe, the Governments are grappling with a deep financial crisis.

Around kitchen tables and in public squares, people are asking:

Who will deliver for my family and for my community? 

Governments everywhere are confronting huge budget deficits. 

But the biggest challenge is not a deficit in budget; it is a deficit of trust.

People are losing faith in Governments and institutions to do the right things.

Today, I would like to talk about how we can reduce that trust deficit.

We can do so through concerted and united action — action that shows real understanding of the challenges before us.

In September at the United Nations General Assembly, I set forth my vision of generational opportunities for the way ahead.  I identified a set of generational opportunities to shape the world of tomorrow by the decisions we make, and by the decisions you make today.  All the opportunities to restore the peoples’ trust.

Let me briefly touch on three of the most immediate pertinent issues.

First, sustainable development — the United Nations top priority for the coming years. 

Before the end of this month, the international community will welcome the 7 billionth child of our global family.

That underscores what I call the 50-50-50 challenges.  In the first fifty years of this century, the earth’s population will increase by 50 per cent.  By that time, we must reduce green house gas emissions by 50 per cent.  By that time, we will see 7 billion people will be living in the big cities, which will create large problems unless we are prepared. 

As we look to next year’s United Nations’ Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, I count on you — parliamentarians everywhere — to help drive progress.

In an era of fiscal austerity, we must be sure our solutions are real solutions — that they make a measurable difference in the daily lives of real people.  And we must do that with the most efficient and effective use of our scarce resources.

That means connecting the dots between climate change, food crises, water scarcity, global health issues, women empowerment and energy shortages.  Solutions to one problem must be solutions to all.

The world’s developing economies are a vital source of global dynamism.  With a new emphasis on sustainable development, we can lock-in that dynamism for future generations.

A second way we can reduce the trust deficit — by standing together for democracy, human rights and peace.

This was a year of remarkable advances in terms of fundamental principles of democracy.  We heard the peoples’ call — in Côte d’Ivoire, South Sudan, in the Middle East and North Africa.

Now, we must do our utmost to help those people, so that they can realize their genuine aspirations for a greater freedom, greater freedom of assembly and expression, and greater participatory democracy.  Now we must help them so that they can realize this transition [in a] peaceful way. 

And we must put due emphasis on preventive diplomacy to preserve peace and build healthy democracies elsewhere.

Third, women make up half the world’s population.  They represent even more of its unrealized potential.  In many ways, women are the world’s next emerging economy.

We must expand the world women’s role in every sphere.  And that means in parliament, too.  I have been leading by example on how we can promote gender empowerment.  There are nine countries in the world where not a single woman sits in parliament.  I hope, distinguished parliamentarians, you look at this [picture], this very serious and unacceptable situation.  It is in your hands to change whatever legislation to allow women to be represented.

Here’s the good news:  28 countries now have at least 30 per cent of women’s representation in parliament. 

But that also means that there are still 160 countries [that need to have] more women parliamentarians, more than 30 per cent.   

And we cannot neglect our youth.  Earlier today, I had a very inspiring meeting with a group of young people who were the champions and heroes of the democratic movement in the Middle East and in North Africa.  It is no exaggeration to say that they helped change the world today.

Since the dawn of the Arab Spring, young people around the world have taken to the streets, demanding greater opportunities to participate in economic and political life. 

I told them that we used to say:  “We are the leaders of today and young generations are the leaders of tomorrow.”  But now it has changed.  They had become the leaders of today already.  They had made this whole situation different.  I told them that their future is in their hands.  Let us listen to them lest the coming decade be marked by an instability and alienation that undermine our prospects for peace, security and prosperity for all. 

These challenges, and more, should be on the agenda when leaders of the world, particularly the 20 largest economies, meet in Cannes next month. 

I will be there — and my message will be clear:  the world needs the Group of Twenty (G-20) to live up to its full potential.

Above all, this means taking the long view, looking beyond national borders and national interests, uniting to do everything possible and necessary to resolve this financial crisis.

I have been urging the G-20 leaders that I would strongly welcome their domestic measures to stimulate their economies, but at the same time they should never lose sight of the plight of the developing world, who do not have any capacity to stimulate the economy. 

We cannot afford to fail.  The time for haggling over incremental steps is over.  Now is the time, the moment for bold and decisive action.

The G-20 summit in London in 2009 showed the way.  Then, leaders agreed to a creative and ambitious plan to stabilize the global financial system.

Today, the G-20 must be no less ambitious.  It must be imaginative in considering innovative new means of financing development and renewable energy for all.

The world’s new economic powers must shoulder their full share of responsibility for the health of the global financial system.  In our new world of constant change and transformation, everyone has something to give — and everyone has something to gain.

The G-20 put development on its agenda last year in Seoul’s Summit meeting.  Now is the moment to advance the pro-poor agenda across the Millennium Development Goals. 

And again and again, we have proved that investing in women’s and children’s health yields outsized returns.  Our march to eliminate death from malaria by 2015 is on track.  Now is not the moment to give up or slide backwards. 

And ultimately, we also know this:  there can be no sustainable development, no sustainable prosperity for anyone, unless we confront the realities of climate change.

The leaders of the largest economies — all of them — must re-dedicate themselves to securing a comprehensive, ambitious climate change agreement.

Seven billion people are looking to you, and are looking to us.

They look to us for solutions to the world’s great challenges.  They want action now on the bread-and-butter issues that matter to them and their children.

Around the world, I hear people say:  yes, economic adjustment will be necessary.  

But do not adjust our hopes.  Do not adjust our children’s dreams. 

Too often, in our public debates, we seem to give the least heed to the people and problems that need us most — the young, the poor and the planet.

The decisions we make today, distinguished parliamentarians, must lay the foundations for a healthy, inclusive economic prosperity for all the world.

Let’s start building that future today.  Let us work together, regardless of where you are coming from, looking beyond your borders, to make this world a better [place] for all.

I count on your leadership and strong commitment.  Thank you very much.

* *** *

For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.