United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, accompanied by Madam Ban Soon‑taek, arrived in Davos, Switzerland, early in the morning of Thursday, 24 January, to attend the annual World Economic Forum (WEF).
The Secretary-General’s first engagement of the day was the closing of the WEF Water Resources Group (WRG) meeting, followed by meetings with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu; Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); and Gordon Brown, United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education.
He had a television interview with Reuters, where anchor Axel Threlfall asked him about climate change, sustainable development, global financial markets, Syria, Mali and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The Secretary-General then held meetings with Raila Odinga, the President of Kenya, and Otto Pérez Molina, President of Guatemala. He then met with the United States Congressional delegation, comprising Eric Cantor (R-Virginia), United States House Majority Leader; Kay Granger (R-Texas); Jeff Fortenberry (R-Nebraska); Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Florida); and Darrell Issa (R-California).
The Secretary-General was interviewed live by CNN’s Michael Holmes, who was anchoring the programme, International Desk, from Atlanta. In the interview, which was conducted outdoors, the Secretary-General spoke about the situations in Mali, Syria and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Noting that these times are of “tremendous turmoil and change”, the Secretary-General told attendees that he calls this period the “Great Transition”, with the “old order breaking down” and “new arrangements… taking shape”.
On Syria, he said that the conflict in the country is driven by a “profound political crisis. It must be resolved by political means that bring real change, a clear break from the past, and fulfil the legitimate democratic aspirations of the Syrian people.”
Regarding the Sahel, the United Nations’ goal for the region, the Secretary-General said, is “an integrated strategy that would address all dimensions of this sustained and systemic crisis”.
Immediately following this address, the Secretary-General participated in a WEF plenary session on the theme, “The Global Development Outlook”, which focused primarily on the Millennium Development Goals. This event was moderated by Thomas L. Friedman, a columnist for The New York Times, and the other participants were Bill Gates; David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan; Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda; Paul Polman, Chief Executive Officer of Unilever; and Helene Gayle, President and CEO of the non-governmental organization, CARE USA.
Before ending his day, the Secretary-General attended two dinners: one hosted by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria and the other hosted by the World Food Programme (WFP).
The following morning, the Secretary-General began his day by attending a WEF session on the theme, “A New Vision for Agriculture: Accelerating Impact”. Among those also taking part were Jakaya M. Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania, and Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda.
He then held separate bilateral meetings with Najib Mikati, the Prime Minister of Lebanon, and with Klaus Schwab, WEF Founder and Executive Chairman.
The Secretary-General attended a Global Compact luncheon on corporate sustainability leadership, known as LEAD, in the post-2015 period, followed by the opening of the WEF session on “Financing Green Growth”.
He was then interviewed live by the BBC in their outdoor studio, answering questions on Syria and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The Secretary-General attended a WEF session on the theme, “The Future We Want from 2015,” before taking part in a WEF plenary session on “The Global Education Imperative.” In his remarks to that event moderated by Gordon Brown, the United Nations Special Envoy on Global Education, the Secretary-General emphasized how education made his “dreams come true” and how he wanted “every child and young person to have the same opportunity” that he had. (See Press ReleaseSG/SM/14784.)
The last event on his programme before departing Davos was a reception for the Every Woman Every Child initiative, where he spotlighted the importance of partnerships in meeting challenges ranging from food and nutrition to climate change. (See Press ReleaseSG/SM/14785.)
The Secretary-General departed Davos for Zurich that evening, en route to Addis Ababa.