Secretary-General's press conference following the Global Launch of the 2015 MDG report
Oslo, Norway, 6 July 2015
Q: How would you characterize the results in achieving universal primary education for children in the world and what do you think are the main obstacles in reaching that goal?
Secretary-General: Education, among the 8 MDG goals, has been playing a very important building-block (role)… it is a foundation…. A sort of cross-cutting initiative that we have taken.
We have seen many good examples how education has helped a country…not only (by) teaching people but making global citizens, contributing as global citizens, with a global vision. That is quite important.
Overall, as I said in my earlier remarks, MDGs - even though we have not been able to fully realize all the goals - should be celebrated in the sense that, even though we have 57-58 million school-aged children out of school, primary education has been provided to almost all the countries. And I hope that this education goal will be carried over by the Sustainable Development Agenda. It is well reflected in the draft of the Sustainable Development Goals and in that regard, I highly commend the leadership and the initiative of Ms. Solberg to convene this Education for Development meeting, today and tomorrow. Thank you very much.
Q: But what are the main obstacles to reaching that goal?
Secretary-General: We have first of all to find out how to provide robust funding, to make primary and secondary education available to all the people. And that will be very important: to educate girls and how to educate children, how to provide educational opportunities to children in conflict areas…
These are challenges for the United Nations and the international community, but I can tell you that I have been very much encouraged, whenever I travel and visit refugee camps, that the United Nations has established, as a priority, even makeshift schools, so that the school-aged children will not miss educational opportunities. That is what we are going to discuss today and tomorrow.
Q: In which ways are climate change and environmental worsening undermining the progress that has been achieved towards the MDGs?
Secretary-General: Climate change is now at the top of our global agenda. This is an issue that we may not delay any longer. This is a defining issue of our times. I have been saying that we may be stepping on the tipping point. This is a crucially important time and this is why I am urging all the leaders that in December in Paris, we must have a universally agreed and robust climate change agreement.
I am reasonably optimistic, I think that all the stars are aligned, more than ever before. A last minute effort, a political leadership will be very important, we have been discussing this matter at least for the last 20 years.
This will be the 21st UN conference, in Paris. I have encouraged a strong commitment from Governments, business communities, civil society that this year, we must have a climate change agreement. I think they are all ready. Now it is up to leaders who can give clear guidelines and vision to negotiators.
I am very concerned about the very slow pace of negotiations. We have no time, we have only ten negotiating days until December, and that is why with the strong support of the Prime Minister, I am going to visit Svalbard Island and visit the Arctic again, for the second time. I really want to see how the situation has been changing. I am not going there to confirm that climate change is happening, climate change is happening much, much faster than we think, but I just want to reaffirm and send a strong message, standing on the Arctic ice, to world leaders. And I thank you, Madame Prime Minister, for such an opportunity, it requires a political leadership role. Thank you very much.
Q: (from Aftenposten Junior section): Mr. Ban Ki-moon, how is the perfect world for children?
Secretary-General: Children are our future and hope, and we have to give full opportunities for all our children. And there are so many, unfortunately, children whose economic and educational opportunities are just abused and they are the most vulnerable group, particularly when it comes to girls.
For example, when it comes to education, it is much more likely that girls, among brothers and sisters, will have less opportunities to go to school. This, we have to change. This is a fundamental human right and there should be no difference between sex, age or ethnicity, this is what our Sustainable Development Agenda is aiming to: leave no one behind, live in this world with dignity for all.
It is very important that we do much, much more and invest in children, and particularly in girls´ future. To this, I am very much committed.
Another area (is) that when girls grow and become women, they are then again being discriminated against, all the time. We have been speaking a lot about women´s empowerment and gender equality, but not enough…From a young, young age, we have to really care for their better future. Have a big, big hope. Thank you.
Off-the-Cuff on 6 July 2015