United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Finland on Friday, 15 July, travelling from New York, so that he could participate in a panel on sustainable development with Finnish President Tarja Halonen.
Upon his arrival in the Finnish city of Pori, the Secretary-General travelled to the site of the panel discussion, Suomi Areena (Finland Arena), where he and President Halonen had a brief press encounter.
Asked about the drought in the Horn of Africa, the Secretary-General said that he was deeply concerned by the drought, which affected some 11 million people in the region, and he called for support for all the affected countries. He noted that the United Nations has appealed for $1.6 billion, but so far had only received about half the needed funds.
Immediately afterwards, the Secretary-General and the President of Finland participated in a televised panel discussion on the importance of global sustainability. The Secretary-General warned that ecosystems are under strain, and climate change is a growing threat to people and economies worldwide. Our old model of growth is not only obsolete, the Secretary-General said, it is also dangerous, and he called for more action to be taken by Governments and people in favour of sustainable development.
The Secretary-General and his wife, Ban Soon-taek, then spent the weekend at Kultaranta with the President and her husband.
On Monday, before departure to Geneva, Switzerland, the Secretary-General also met with former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari at Helsinki Airport and discussed the former President’s current work.
Speaking to a reporter before leaving Helsinki, the Secretary-General said that he had a successful visit with President Tarja Halonen. He said that, during their time together, they had discussed sustainable development, as well as recent political concerns, including Libya, Yemen, Syria and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. On Libya, the Secretary-General once more stressed the need for an immediate and verifiable ceasefire.