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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon


Secretary-General's remarks at special event to launch the 7 Billion Actions Initiative

New York, 14 September 2011

Thank you, Mr. Riz Khan, distinguished leaders on the podium, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am excited to be here for this launch of the 7 Billion Actions Initiative.

I am especially pleased to share a podium with so many leaders here.

I am extremely grateful to UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin for the expertise, experience and above all enormous passion he brings to this cause.

Thank you, Ambassador Carsten Staur of Denmark for joining us today, and thank you to the other panellists: Ms. Sheri McCoy, the Vice Chair of Johnson & Johnson, youth leader Ms. Imane Khachani from Morocco, and Mr. Naveen Selvadurai, the Founder of Four Square. Thank you very much for your leadership and commitment.

This is the kind of diverse coalition we need for the 7 Billion Actions initiative to succeed.

In just seven weeks, the global population will reach seven billion. We are not here simply to acknowledge that milestone. We are here to address all of its vast implications.

The seven billionth citizen will be born into a world of contradictions. We have plenty of food yet millions are still starving. We see luxurious lifestyles yet millions are impoverished. We have great opportunities for progress but also great obstacles.

The moment of seven billion is not about one individual or even one generation. It is a challenge, an opportunity and a call to action for all of us.

To confront grinding poverty and inequality. To address challenges facing women and girls, and the world's youth. To take on discrimination, human rights abuses and violence. These are all the challenges that we can and must overcome.

More than a quarter of the world's people are between the ages of 10 and 24. We used to say youth are leaders of the future – but we know now they are the leaders of today, as we have seen in many parts of the world.

When they cry out for democracy, when they stand squarely on the side of human rights, when they demand freedom from oppression, when they seek opportunities for a better life, they deserve all of our support.

We have to meet people's needs.

We have to protect our environment, provide clean water and energy and enough food, and address the threat of climate change.

We have to stop the appalling crime of violence against women, which kills or disables as many women as cancer.

We have to start by protecting our girls, and giving them the equal education they deserve.

And we have to change attitudes that say violence against women and girls is acceptable. It never is.

We also need to make motherhood safe. That means caring for pregnant women, preventing deaths in childbirth, and providing nutrition to mothers and babies.

If we invest in people, we will reap the best dividends.

The campaign we launch today – 7 Billion Actions – is a clarion call to people, communities, countries and our partners: non-governmental organizations, businesses, academics and faith leaders.

I am looking forward to hearing from all of you today. This is part of a global conversation I am engaged in with all kinds of constituents.

Yesterday, I even used Twitter and Facebook to take questions from many people around the world. They asked me what the United Nations can do about eliminating, eradicating poverty and conflict, corruption and disease; what we can do for women and children. They wanted to know what the United Nations is doing to help civilians. I did my best to answer.

But I know that the best answer to people's concerns is found not in words – but in our actions.

That is why I am so pleased to launch today this campaign for 7 Billion Actions.

Let us all, together, take positive actions that will reverberate in the lives of people around the world.

Thank you.

Statements on 14 September 2011