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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

Full transcript of Secretary-General's press conference [scroll down for Q&A]

Brisbane, Australia, 14 November 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I thank the Government and people of Australia for hosting this gathering of global leaders at this critical moment in international affairs.

The world faces serious security, developmental and environmental challenges.  Pressures on people and the planet are building.  The G-20 countries possess not only the political power to set us on a better course, but a political responsibility to do so.

I would like to highlight the need for action in three critical areas:

First, promoting inclusive growth and decent jobs.  The determination of the G20 to raise growth by more than 2 per cent in the next five years is a step in the right direction.  But the quality of growth is just as important as its quantity.  We must pursue an agenda that advances sustainability, addresses inequalities and generates decent jobs, especially for young people. Next year’s UN Summit will provide the opportunity to adopt such an agenda, including an ambitious set of sustainable development goals.

Second, meeting the climate challenge.  I commend the announcement by the United States and China of their post-2020 climate action, which comes on the heels of Europe’s decision on emission reduction targets.  The transition towards a low-carbon, climate-resilient future is accelerating.  I urge other leaders and major economies, especially among the G20, to come forward with contributions that will sustain this momentum.

The world also looks to the G20 to lead on climate finance.  I urge G20 countries to make ambitious pledges towards the capitalization of the Green Climate Fund at next week’s pledging conference in Berlin. 

As the latest IPCC report tells us, we must act quickly and decisively if we want to avoid increasingly destructive outcomes – but we also have the means to limit climate change and build a better future.

Third, providing financing for sustainable development.  The growth and sustainable development agendas depend on financing – public, private, domestic and international.  I call on the G20 to continue its efforts to reform the global financial system, strengthen tax systems, fight corruption and reaffirm their commitment to meeting the target of 0.7 per cent of gross national income for official development assistance.  I look forward to active G20 engagement at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, to be held in Addis Ababa in July.
I would also like to stress the need to intensify the international response to the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa.  I thank the health-workers on the frontlines and the countries that are making life-saving contributions. 

I particularly want to thank our hosts. The government of Australia was one of the first to contribute to the United Nations trust fund set up to combat ebola in West Africa.

Also, a few days ago a further contribution was announced Prime Minister Abbott’s government that includes funding for 100-bed Ebola treatment centre in Sierra Leone as well as an additional contribution to the United Nations Ebola response. This is all very much appreciated. 

The rate of new cases is showing signs of slowing in some of the hardest-hit parts of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.  But as rates decline in one area, they are rising in others.  Transmission continues to outpace the response.  I urge the G-20 to step up so that we can meet the 70/70 goal: isolating and treating 70 per cent of all Ebola cases and providing safe and dignified burials to 70 per cent of those who have died.  We must also address the secondary impacts on healthcare, education and soaring food prices caused by a disruption in farming that could provoke a major food crisis affecting 1 million people across the region.

Finally, the war in Syria continues to destabilize a wide area and cause immense humanitarian suffering.  In Syria, Iraq and northern Nigeria, extremist groups control territory larger than that of many countries.  Unilateral steps are making a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict seem more elusive than ever.  And in the heart of Europe, the Ukraine conflict has raised fear of Cold War-style divisions that can impede our collective efforts to solve problems.

Across these arcs of crisis, we need more determined steps to end grave abuses of human rights, resolve the conflicts and address the underlying sources of instability.

The G-20 has helped the global economy weather the storms of recent years.  Here in Brisbane, G-20 leaders have an opportunity to show leadership in fostering sustainable economies and building prosperous, just, inclusive and resilient societies for all.

Thank you.

Q: Hello. Louda Teller from The Guardian. You spoke about the –

Moderator: Do you mind standing so the Secretary-General can see you easier. Thank you.

Q:  Yes, sorry.  You spoke about the Green Climate Fund in your remarks. Would you like to see the G20 communiqué address that issue and it has been suggested that this meeting is primarily about economic growth and isn't primarily about climate change, but you were calling on countries, G20 countries, to take a lead. So you can explain why you think it is appropriate?

SG: It is my understanding.  I have been briefed by my Sherpa that they are actively discussing the issue of climate change. Of course, climate change is the defining issue of our times, therefore it is only natural that G20 Leaders should focus much more on this as part of making this world sustainable in three dimensions: economic, social and environmental.

That is a firm principle which was supported and adapted at the Rio+20 Summit meeting in June 2012 and I understand that discussions are going along well and I am sure that there will be a reflection of strong commitment by the leaders of G20 on climate change.

As you know, this is one of the top priorities of the international community that the IPCCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] has made it quite clear in Copenhagen two weeks ago that it is the human influence which has been causing climate change phenomenon.

Then the answer is natural that, as a human being and this is our world, we should take the necessary action to address this for a sustainable and prosperous society in the coming years.

Q: [James Lander, BBC] Can you say more about the situation in Ukraine? President Putin is here in town. What do you expect? What do you want him to do? If Russia does not de-escalate, what should the consequences be?

SG: As I said, the current situation is not sustainable for world peace and economy, if and when the world seems to be divided into a Cold War style. I sincerely hope all of these pending issues should be resolved in accordance with the Minsk protocol and memorandum, which was agreed upon, and even facilitated, by the Russian and European Union and the Americans, so this is a time now where it must be implemented faithfully.

I had a meeting with Prime Minister Medvedev [in Naypiydaw] and we discussed at length how Russia can be engaged in making the peace and stability in the region and at the same time I have been meeting with the European leaders and the other world leaders and they should sit down together to address all of this issues, harmoniously, peacefully, through dialogue.

The continuing conflict and tensions and violence in that south-eastern area of Ukraine is not helpful at all, not only for world peace and security, but world economy.

This has global implications in all aspects, therefore I urged leaders, particularly the United States and European and Russian leaders, who are sitting together in G20, to also discuss this matter on the margins of this G20 meetings.

Q: Hi. This is Susie Gow from China. My question is: what is your expectation of China's role (inaudible), as well as the crisis that the BBC just mentioned? Thank you so much.

SG: China is the second largest economy and you should be proud of what China's people and government have been achieving.

At the same time, that is compared with responsibility and global responsibility now.

In that regard, the size of Chinese economy and their contribution now has global implications, therefore I would hope that China will continue to play a role so that all of this world global economy is now integrating into inclusive and reducing the inequalities between the developed and developing countries, as well as among developing countries.

I really appreciate China contributing to South-South cooperation and particularly, as I said in my earlier remarks, that the agreement between China and the United States on a very ambitious climate change targets, aiming by 2020 is a significant one and I am asking other leaders, particularly emerging economies and major economies, to follow suit, so that we will be able to have a global and meaningful climate change agreement by the end of December next year.

Next year will be the deadline for international community. The member states of the United Nations have made the firm pledges officially, repeated every several years, that there should be a climate change agreement by the end of next year. We're doing our best efforts to facilitate this process.

Q: Hi. My name is Annie from the G20 Research Group and I also delegate from the G20 Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliance. For the 8 million development goal post-2015 agenda there is a lot of suggestion for the post-2015 agenda and a huge focus on youth entrepreneur and the Prime Minister of Turkey yesterday as well in the pre-Summit conference address really drove and focused on youth entrepreneurs to drive economy growth.
I was wondering what would be your view? What would you like the G20 to achieve in that regard?

SG: I know that the G20 leaders will discuss in depth how they can contribute to make these sustainable development goals shaped firmly so that world leaders when they come to a special session, a special summit meeting next year celebrating 70th anniversary of the United Nations, we will adopt and declare to the world as our vision, global vision, aiming by 2030.

The negotiations have been progressing smoothly during this year. During the last eight months, the member states have been engaged in Open Working Groups, OWGs. They have identified 17 goals and 169 targets to help the 17 goals across the spectrums of social, economic and environment. This covers all spectrum of our life.

Now member states believe that if we are able to implement all of the 17 goals, we will be really able to, first of all, eradicate the abject poverty by 2030 and then achieve this climate-resilient economies and prosperous and equality society.

For the first time when member states agreed on this, they are having some goals on peaceful societies and rule of laws, human rights, all of the political aspect goals are also included for the first time. MDG was mainly on development issues.

Now these sustainable development goals cover a whole spectrum of our life. Now, I am requested by the General Assembly of the United Nations to write this by the end of December a synthesis report. With the 17 goals, agreed among the member states, and with my report, they will begin another negotiation next year, January of next year until September.

Then that will be – I am sure they will finalise their vision, a vision for sustainable development goals. That is what I can tell you. As I said in my earlier remarks, these sustainable goals, however ideal and visionary they may be, should be fully supported by raising those means of financing.

In the past, there have been a lot of pressure for financial support through OTA or other voluntary support, but none much has been delivered. This time member states are firm to have the means of mechanism for delivering these sustainable goals and that is why they are going to meet in July next year in Addis Ababa. That will be a very important one.
I am sure the G20 Leaders will focus on the sustainable development goals.

Q: Michelle Grattan from The Conversation. Secretary-General, you stress the importance of the Ebola issue and David Cameron the other day mentioned it as one of the couple of major issues of this conference. What do you see as the potential economic effect of the Ebola crisis? Do you think those economic effects are limited to the immediate area or do you think it has effects for the world economy?

SG: Ebola issue started seemingly as a health issue. That is why international community might be a little bit slow in tackling this Ebola issue.

Ebola has developed into security, health and economy and security issues, so now it is now impacting all spectrums of our life. That is why the United Nations has taken an emergency response. For the first time in the history of the United Nations, the UN has established a special mission to respond to this Ebola. It is called UNMEER, United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response. It is established in Ghana. I have established smaller regional offices in three effected countries. Now, we need to mobilise massive resources, in terms of financial, logistics and treatment. We need to provide all political support to them.

Because of the various – the extraordinary nature of this disease, I think the international community has been panicked, but we should guard against panic. Of course we have to guard against the spread.

The United Nations has five priorities in addressing these issues. First of all, we have to stop this outbreak of Ebola. We have to treat the affected persons. All of the affected persons should be treated. Then we have to ensure that all the essential services should be provided and then, fourthly, we have to preserve stability of the countries, socially, politically and economically.

Last but not least, we had to make sure we prevented the further outbreak of Ebola virus. These are five priorities.

We are mobilising all resources available -time and energy.  I am spending more time in working to address this with the World Bank and WHO. This mission is now working with a strategic guidance of WHO, medical health and science.

At this time, I would like to again urge world leaders, particularly in the neighbouring countries, not necessarily only neighbouring countries, other countries, to support the health workers -- doctors and nurses, volunteers and NGO supporters.

Those people are extraordinary people who are giving of themselves all. Even who are risking their own lives. They should not be discriminated for their generous humanitarian works. Rather than being discriminated or quarantined unnecessarily in such a strict way. They should be given full support.

Of course, if one has a symptom, one should be treated immediately. They should be taken care of.

Otherwise, if one does not show any symptom, if all of this treatment is not based on science, they should be treated as normal people when they are returning from their service. That is my urgent and strong appeal to the world leaders. Otherwise, it will be extremely difficult to address this Ebola crisis.

Let us prevent this Ebola, treat it and prevent it at the source. Not other places. Thank you.

Q: David Crowe from the 'Australian' newspaper. One of the big issues at the G20 this weekend is tax and base erosion of profit shifting. A huge issue for a lot of nations that need more revenue to provide health and education. Are you satisfied with the progress by G20 leaders on combatting tax evasion?

SG: I hope world leaders will discuss this issue more thoroughly.

I have been participating at G20 Leaders' meeting from the beginning and this issue has been discussed all the time, but somehow, because of differences of situations and conditions of each and every country, there has not been much coherence  or agreement on this matter.

This affects global economy. Global economies are tightly interconnected. What is happening in one country is immediately affecting other countries, therefore there should be some globally accepted, reasonable systems which can be conducive in helping each other's economy, which will eventually help the global economy. That is the main purpose of this G20 meeting.

When we started after the financial crisis in 2008, the six years of coordination and cooperation among G20 leaders has made this G20 as primary global economic coordinating mechanism. This is I think the highest and most important place where they can discuss all other issues. 

Moderator: Right there and that will have to be the last question.

Q: Can I ask two questions?

Moderator: Just one.

Q: (Laughs) Secretary-General, we know your commitment about gender and there have been discussions on bridging the gender gap in employment by 25 per cent by 2025. What would your recommendation be when it comes to sustainable development goals to invigorate this focus on gender and would you suggest a stand alone gender goal in sustainable development goals?

SG: As the Secretary-General of the United Nations I have taken this gender equality, gender empowerment issues, as one of the top priorities.

We have many important, valuable resources in our world. Do you know that least utilised resources in our world is our women’s potential. This world's population – we have more women population. My principle is that, if not more, at least the equal opportunity should be given to women in social, economic and political opportunities. That is a firm principle of the United Nations.

I have been asking world leaders they should really lead by example. As a way to leading by example I have been trying my best to change the landscape of gender empowerment in the United Nations system and I have changed a whole system and we have - it is not exactly 50/50, but maybe 40/60 or 45/55. Then I have raised and enhanced the women's visibility and participation as much as possible. I will continue to do that.

We see many exemplary countries in some parts of the world, but there are still some countries where not a single woman is represented in the Parliament. We see some ministers or cabinet ministers or some ministers, very senior women leaders, but we need to have more political level of women who can really make a decision.

It is very important that women should be able to participate in all the spectrum of our life, economic, social and political and environmental areas and I am encouraged that there is a growing awareness and practice by world leaders to do that, but it is true, there is women and girls – whose human rights and human dignity are not very well protected, particularly when it comes to conflict areas. So I have appointed a special representative to prevent gender-based violence in conflict areas. We are doing our best efforts to make this world better for all, whether you are men or women.

Thank you.


Off-the-Cuff on 14 November 2014