United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, accompanied by Madam Ban Soon-taek, arrived in Des Moines, Iowa, on the afternoon of Thursday, 18 October.
He first met with Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), as well as his agricultural aide, Mark Halverson, at the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates. The Secretary-General then held a meeting with Governor Terry Branstad, Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds and Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), among others.
That evening, the Secretary-General attended the laureate award ceremony for the World Food Prize. He paid tribute to the 2012 recipient of the prize, scientist Dr. Daniel Hillel, for his work helping millions of farmers grow more crops per drop of water in some of the driest places on earth.
In his keynote address, the Secretary-General said that 870 million people are undernourished — a number lower than previous estimates, but still unconscionably high. He said that the right to food is a matter of fundamental human rights. He also noted that the objective of ending hunger in our lifetime depends on forging partnerships that make a difference, harnessing the creativity of scientists and economists, developing new approaches and technologies to respond to climate change, water scarcity and desertification, and strengthening resilience in the face of price and market shocks. (See Press Release SG/SM/14594.)
On Friday, 19 October, the Secretary-General briefly attended a breakfast hosted by the World Food Prize. He then went to Drake University, where he met with the President of the University, David Maxwell, and some of his Cabinet members.
The Secretary-General then gave an address on the theme of “Global Citizenship in a Changing World”. He told the students and the audience that there were three tests of global citizenship: sustainable development; empowering the world’s women and young people; and meeting people’s aspirations for democracy, peace and security. (See Press Release SG/SM/14595.)
On Syria, the Secretary-General said that the international community had a moral responsibility, a political duty and a humanitarian obligation to stop the bloodbath and find peace for the people of Syria. He called on the Security Council, regional countries and all parties to live up to their expectations, support the work of Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi and promote a ceasefire.
Later in the morning, the Secretary-General and his wife travelled back to New York.