Lima, Peru, 15 February 2011 - Secretary-General's Address at Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos [as prepared for delivery}Distinguido Rector Luis Fernando Izquierdo, Estimado Dr. Christian Ochoa, Representante de los estudiantes, Honorable Javier Perez de Cuellar, Senor Canciller Garcia Belaunde, Querida Susana Villaran, Alcaldesa de Lima, Queridos amigos y amigas,
Es un honor para mi estar aquí, en la casona de San Marcos que alberga esta Universidad.
I am especially privileged to have my distinguished predecessor, Javier Perez de Cuellar, join us. Sir, you honour us with your presence here today.
No Secretary-General can visit Peru without thinking of Mr. Perez de Cuellar. But I do not have to come all the way to Lima to appreciate my predecessor.
His legacy is everywhere at United Nations Headquarters in New York and around the world.
It all began here, in Lima.
When he was a young boy, he saw flags of different countries displayed in the shops in the old city, and the future Secretary-General started to imagine the world beyond Peru.
I wish I had time to review all of the history since then. But since I do not, I just want to look back on Mr. Perez de Cuellar's final day in office. Most of us, when we leave a job, there is a little office party.
After ten years as Secretary-General, he could have spent his last day drinking wine and meeting with friends and colleagues.
And it was December 31st 1991, so it was New Year's eve, a time most people celebrate. But Secretary-General Perez de Cuellar had work to do. He spent his last day in office in difficult negotiations between the Government of El Salvador and the FMLN.
He was working extremely hard, but he told his staff to go home. They still remember him kindly saying, “Go, enjoy your New Year's eve.”
Of course they did not want to leave their leader. They all stayed.
The negotiations ran right up to midnight. Before Secretary-General Perez de Cuellar left dark halls of the United Nations that night, his final night as Secretary-General, he got a peace agreement for the Salvadoran people that ended a devastating war.
He said to me today, recollecting that historic moment that he had to stop the watch not to cross over midnight, the last of his mandate.
Finally, to complete his negotiations, he had to borrow one hour from his successor.
This is just one aspect of Secretary-General Perez de Cuellar's important legacy for the United Nations and the world.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very honoured to speak in this oldest university on this continent which dates back 460 years.
But, however old it may be, I can feel a certain thirst, not just for education and ideas; a thirst for change.
And there are few things in the life of a United Nations Secretary-General as inspiring as
being among a group of young people eager to change the world. It gives me hope. It gives the
world hope – as we have seen most recently in Egypt.
So I am moved to be here, moved to be standing in this room that is so steeped in your country's struggle for independence, and eager to talk to you about the global challenges we must face together.
We are living in an era of transformation, of sweeping changes in the global landscape, with new economic powers emerging, disasters striking with greater force, the impacts of climate change growing ever clearer, drug trafficking and organized crime syndicates that at times seem capable of outgunning legitimate police forces.
Today's challenges have global reach. No single country or group, however powerful, can deal with them alone.
We must work in common cause not just as a matter of pragmatic burden-sharing, though that is reason enough.
We must find common solutions because we share a common future.
Webs of commerce have made us more dependent on each other.
Global communications have made us more aware of each other - what it is to be rich, what it is to be poor; what it is to be free, and what it is to lack
choices and be relegated to the margins.
Rights, dignity and opportunity for all should be everybody's business. We need to do more
- far more - to prepare for our shared future.
That is one of the primary functions of the United Nations. And indeed, people and governments are asking us to do more than ever before.
I have seen in my own life what the United Nations can do.
One of my earliest memories is of my own village burning from the bombs of war - looking back at it from the hills to which my family and I had escaped.
The United Nations helped my country to rebuild from a devastating war.
The United Nations fed me and my family, my entire nation.
I am determined to see the Organization rise to similar challenges today.
But I can do little without partners, partners such as government leaders and entrepreneurs, philanthropists, human rights defenders and environmental activists.
Partners like you.
We need you -- all Peruvians but especially its young people -- to take on two big challenges. To join us in building a world that is more sustainable world – and a world that is more equitable.
Two big challenges. Let me take them each in turn.
First, sustainable development.
For most of the last century, the world burned its way to prosperity. We believed in consumption without consequences.
Those days are gone. In the twenty-first century, supplies are running short and the global thermostat is running high.
The old models are not just obsolete, they are dangerous.
Peru itself faces the challenge: its extractive industries have helped fuel impressive growth, but cannot do so forever.
We need to reinvent what we mean by progress. We need a revolution in how we define prosperity and in our relations with our planet.
In many ways, that revolution started here in Latin America. A generation ago in Brazil, the Earth Summit put sustainable development on the map.
Peru itself drew inspiration from that conference, and soon established its first national council for the environment, later followed by a full-fledged ministry.
Our challenge now is to go further still. New threats have emerged since the Earth Summit, climate change above all.
Peru and Latin America can see the consequences. Andean glaciers continue to melt. Sea-level rise could disrupt the ecosystem of the Galápagos, just next door, and threaten the very existence of some Caribbean nations.
Climate change leads us down a path that no longer works - a path of the past. We need to build paths to the future.
That means de-coupling greenhouse gas emissions from economic growth through energy efficiency.
It means connecting the dots among climate, water, food and energy.
My High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability will recommend ways to do just that as we prepare for next year's Earth Summit – Rio 2012.
The Andean region can become a major producer of biofuels, an area with significant potential if developed in a sustainable manner.
Peru is blessed with extraordinary natural resources, and indeed is considered a “mega-biodiverse” country. Indigenous knowledge of Pachamama, Mother Earth is part of this endowment.
You must be custodians of this global public good.
Señoras y Señores,
[Ladies and Gentlemen,]
We cannot talk about sustainability without talking about equality.
Statements on 15 February 2011
- Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Tokyo, Japan, 15 February 2011 - Secretary-General's message to meetings organized by the Japan Council against Atomic and Hydrogen bombs launching Signature Campaign for the start of negotiations for a Convention banning Nuclear Weapons
- Lima, Peru, 15 February 2011 - Secretary-General's remarks at ceremony hosted by Mrs. Susana Villaran, Mayor of Lima, to honour an "Huesped Ilustre" (Illustrious Guest)