United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson travelled to Washington, D.C., to take part in a series of events taking place alongside the spring meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The Secretary-General flew into Washington from New York on Thursday morning, 10 April, and just after arriving, he and his Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown, launched the Emergency Coalition for Global Education Action.
That is a group of prominent leaders who are coming together to work harder to accelerate progress until the end of 2015 to ensure that all girls and boys are in school. They were joined in that launch by more than 500 youth, including two young women, Shazia Ramzan and Kainat Riaz, who had been shot by the Taliban with Malala Yousafzai in 2012 for seeking an education. He emphasized the importance of putting every child in school, improving the quality of learning and fostering global citizenship. (See Press Release SG/SM/15764.)
At the event, the Secretary-General also heard from the gathered youth about topics ranging from ending child marriages and child prostitution to looking out for the education needs of children in conflict zones. That testimony came from youth ranging from a boy who grew up in conflict-scarred Goma in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo to a girl who entrapped a man soliciting child prostitutes in Bangkok.
In the afternoon, the Secretary-General attended events on ending poverty and providing education, along with World Bank President Jim Yong Kim. President Kim introduced the Secretary-General at an event on the “End Poverty Call to Action” by calling him the world’s most famous Korean and “the coolest Korean on the planet”. The Secretary-General replied: “In fact, I am the second most famous Korean in Korea, only next to Psy,” the rap star.
Speaking at the event, the Secretary-General outlined his three priorities in terms of UN action on development: to accelerate the Millennium Development Goals; to define the Post-2015 development agenda for sustainable development; and to fight climate change. (See Press Release SG/SM/15766.)
He then met with the Foreign Minister of Norway, Børge Brende, with whom he discussed issues concerning climate change, the Millennium Development Goals and the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.
The Secretary-General said that, as we move closer to the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals and Education for All objectives, we must accelerate progress. We must ensure that every child has the opportunity to receive a good quality education.
He said that lack of quality education, of good teachers especially, and of school environments conducive to learning are among the main reasons why children are being pushed out of school. This is especially so for girls. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) latest Education for All Global Monitoring report, 100 million young women in low- and lower-middle-income countries are unable to read a single sentence. (See Press Release SG/SM/15767.)
The Secretary-General ended the working day by visiting the Inter-American Development Bank, where he had a tête-à-tête meeting with its President, Luis Alberto Moreno, and a discussion session with the Bank’s Executive Board of Directors.
On the morning of Friday, 11 April, the Secretary-General first conferred with his advisers and then visited the Pentagon, where he met with United States Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. He was accompanied by the Deputy Secretary-General and the Under-Secretaries-General for Political Affairs, Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support — respectively, Jeffrey Feltman, Hervé Ladsous and Ameerah Haq.
In his meeting with Defense Secretary Hagel, the Secretary-General discussed the United States contribution to United Nations peacekeeping, peacekeeping reform and new technology and innovation. They also discussed the international commitment to Afghanistan and the Central African Republic.
The Secretary-General then returned to the World Bank, where he participated in a meeting on "Investing in Health: Toward Universal Coverage and Ending Poverty by 2030", which was moderated by the Director of the World Health Organization, Dr. Margaret Chan.
The Secretary-General said that countries around the world have achieved great advances on health through the Millennium Development Goals. But, he said that we now have to go further — and that means reaching the most vulnerable people.
He said that universal health care can be the model for the twenty-first century. It provides access to services, prevents against exclusion and protects people from financial risk. This will bring more than health — it will bring equity, and contribute to a life of dignity for all. (See Press Release SG/SM/15770.)
Upon departing the meeting, the Secretary-General briefly spoke to the press, accompanied by World Bank President Kim and the IMF Managing Director, Christine Lagarde.
The Secretary-General spoke about climate change, which he called a defining issue of our time, and an existential threat to our life and development. He noted that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in its most recent report, has made it quite clear that climate change is happening and approaching much, much faster than one may expect.
Speaking at the Climate Leaders’ Summit, the Secretary-General called on Governments to reach a universal legal climate agreement by next year that is both ambitious and achievable. He will stress the need for both political and financial investment to deal with climate change, the single greatest threat to a sustainable future.
He added that addressing the climate challenge presents a golden opportunity to promote prosperity, security and a brighter future for all. It can strengthen our efforts across the development agenda — from renewable energy to climate smart agriculture to sustainable transport. (See Press Release SG/SM/15771.)
The Secretary-General then spoke at an event on Sanitation and Water for All, saying that, in just over two decades, more than 2 billion people saw improvements in their water supply. He added that the United Nations is not stopping until it helps the remaining two-and-a-half billion people who still lack adequate sanitation. The United Nations is especially concerned about the 1 billion who are forced to practise open defecation.
He called on the need for smart investments, firm commitment and staunch advocacy in the effort to improve access to sanitation and clean water worldwide. (See Press Release SG/SM/15773.)
He concluded his trip to Washington, D.C., by meeting with the heads of the multilateral development banks, and he spoke to them about the post-2015 development framework, including the need to eradicate extreme poverty.
The Secretary-General returned to New York on Friday evening.