Secretary-General's remarks to the General Assembly on his Five-Year Action Agenda: "The Future We Want"
New York , 25 January 2012
Mr. President of the General Assembly, Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning and my warmest regards to you and for a happy new year.
Last September I stood before you and outlined five imperatives for my second term – five key areas where we can, and must, make significant progress – five generational opportunities to creatively deliver on our core mission.
One: Sustainable development.
Two: Preventing conflicts and disasters, human rights abuses and development setbacks.
Three: Building a safer and more secure world, which includes standing strong on fundamental principles of democracy and human rights.
Four: Supporting nations in transition.
And five: Working for women and young people.
Today I want to share with you an action agenda for the coming five years.
A plan to make the most of the opportunities before us.
A plan to help create a safer, more secure, more sustainable, more equitable future.
A plan to build the future we want.
Today, I want to outline that plan in sufficient detail to capture the breadth and depth of our vision.
The full Action Agenda will be distributed to you at this meeting, and will be available in all official languages later today.
In the interests of transparency and information-sharing, we are also posting a link to that document on the UN Twitter account for the world to see.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The human and physical geography of our world is changing.
New centres of economic dynamism are emerging.
Technology continues to knit us more closely together.
Yet, economic uncertainty and social inequity are widespread.
The global population has reached 7 billion people.
In just five years, we will add another half billion people – all needing food, jobs, security and opportunity.
Environmental, economic and social indicators tell us that our current model of progress is unsustainable.
Climate change is destroying our path to sustainability.
Ours is a world of looming challenges and increasingly limited resources.
Sustainable development offers the best chance to adjust our course.
That is why I placed this challenge at the top of the list.
In this challenge, as in all others, we must pay special attention to the needs and priorities of Africa.
First, we are working on a final push to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
There is a myth that development does not work.
The facts show this is wrong.
We have seen dramatic progress in a short time: More effective disease control. More children in primary education. Significant reductions in global poverty.
In the next five years, we will wipe out five of the world's major killers.
We will end deaths from malaria, polio, new paediatric HIV infections and maternal and neonatal tetanus.
And we will reduce measles mortality by 95 per cent.
We will also fully implement the global strategy on women's and children's health to save tens of millions of lives, including by providing reproductive health services.
We will also tackle extreme poverty and hunger.
We will focus on inequalities, with particular emphasis on countries with special needs and those that have not achieved sufficient progress.
We are preparing to unlock the potential of current and future generations by ending the hidden disgrace of stunting that affects more than 170 million children under five years of age.
That is one child in every four.
We are also preparing to empower future generations by offering quality, relevant and universal education to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
Looking beyond 2015, we are working to forge consensus on a new generation of sustainable development goals that build on the MDGs – goals that will provide equitable economic and social progress that respects our planet's environmental boundaries.
I will appoint a senior advisor to coordinate these efforts on my behalf.
Next Monday, President Halonen of Finland and President Zuma of South Africa will deliver the final report of my Global Sustainability Panel.
Its recommendations can help to guide success at the Rio+20 conference.
We will mobilize the UN system to address the building blocks of sustainable development – from food and nutrition security to sustainable energy for all, from sustainable transportation and universal access to safe drinking water to adequate sanitation and the improved governance of our oceans.
But sustainable development will also depend on addressing climate change.
At Durban last month, countries agreed on a timetable for a binding accord in which all nations would pledge to reduce emissions.
We have a collective responsibility to deliver by 2015.
But Mother Nature will not wait while we negotiate. Over the next five years we must facilitate mitigation and adaptation action on the ground, including on REDD+.
We must operationalize the Green Climate Fund and set public and private funds on a trajectory to reach the agreed $100 billion by 2020.
I will also work with Member States to promote evidence-based policy. We need to act on the scientific facts.
Finally, I am announcing today that we will work with Member States to make Antarctica a World Nature Preserve.
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is well known that prevention is better – and cheaper – than cure.
Focusing on preventing disasters and conflicts across all areas of our work - peace and security, promoting human rights and development - has the potential to save millions of lives and billions of dollars.
We know this from experience.
It is time to prioritize prevention across the board.
On conflict, my agenda highlights early warning and action on conflict by mapping, linking, collecting and integrating information from across the international system.
It emphasizes supporting national capacities for facilitating dialogue.
And it specifies that UN good offices, mediation and rapid crisis response services must be made easily and swiftly available to Member States that need them.
We will also adopt a preventive approach to human rights.
The era of impunity is dead.
We have entered a new age of accountability.
We will extend the reach of the International Criminal Court and carve out a new dimension for the emerging doctrine of the responsibility to protect.
On natural disasters, we will work for risk reduction plans that address the growing challenges of climate change, environmental degradation, urbanization and population growth.
And we will place special emphasis on least developed and most vulnerable countries.
Ladies and gentlemen,
This brings me to the third agenda item -- building a safer and more secure world by innovating and by building on our core business.
The role for our peacekeeping services continues to expand.
We have come a long way from simply being ceasefire monitors.
Today we are expected to keep, enforce and build peace.
Our operations build bridges -- literally and among communities.
We will build a new partnership for peacekeeping.
This will entail even stronger collaboration with regional organizations and we will work to ensure that peacekeepers have all they need –when they need it – to meet the demands of increasingly complex operations.
Yet we will not create a safer and more secure world without building a more global, accountable and robust humanitarian system.
To achieve this we will enhance collaboration among humanitarian organizations, particularly from the global south.
We will strengthen community resilience and emergency response and establish a monitoring system to assess preparedness measures.
And we will promote a global Declaration and Agenda on Humanitarian Aid Transparency and Effectiveness.
We need to expand the Central Emergency Response Fund – which has worked extremely well -- and identify additional sources of innovative financing for emergencies.
Finally, I propose convening a first-of-its-kind World Humanitarian Summit to help share knowledge and establish common best practices.
We will also keep our sights firmly set on revitalizing the global disarmament and non-proliferation agenda.
My message to the Conference on Disarmament is clear: Get to work.
We will also refocus our lens on nuclear safety and security, ranging from the threat of terrorism to the risk of environmental contamination from disasters such as we saw last year at Fukushima.
And we will enhance coherence and scale up UN counter-terrorism efforts.
Today, I propose creating a single UN counter-terrorism coordinator, by combining some of the existing functions.
And we will address the heightened threat of organized crime, piracy and drug trafficking by mobilizing collective action and developing new tools and comprehensive regional and global strategies.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The fourth item on the action agenda is supporting nations in transition.
Countries in transition from conflict are home to one-and-a-half billion people.
They are seriously off-track on the MDGs..
When events slip off the front page, when the cameras leave, the UN must be ready to maintain focus and attention.
Countries in transition look to us – the United Nations – to help consolidate freedoms and opportunity.
We have a responsibility to help societies in transition.
We also have the ability, based on vast experience.
Now is the time to scale up our efforts, especially in areas where the UN's unique set of services is in particular demand -- in peacebuilding, rule of law, electoral assistance, dispute resolution, anti-corruption, constitution-making and power-sharing arrangements and democratic practices.
And we will support “transition compacts” with agreed strategic objectives and mutual accountability in fragile and conflict environments.
Ladies and gentlemen,
From sustainable development to a safer and more secure world, from prevention to transition, there is one essential cross-cutting element: empowering women and young people.
In too many countries, in too many communities, in too many households, women are still not recognized for what they can contribute.
Five years ago, our work to change this was fragmented and inefficient.
Today we have UN Women – consolidated and focused.
We will deepen the UN campaign to end violence against women.
We will enhance support for countries to adopt legislation that criminalizes violence against women and provides women with access to justice.
We will do even more to promote women's political participation worldwide, including a special focus on my seven-point action plan on women's participation in peacebuilding.
We will encourage countries to adopt measures that guarantee women's equal access to political leadership that promote women's engagement in elections and that build the capacity of women to be effective leaders.
And we will develop an action agenda for ensuring the full participation of women in social and economic recovery, so it does not pass them by.
We need to pull the UN system together, like never before, to support a new social contract of job-rich economic growth.
Let us start with young people.
Today we have the largest generation of young people the world has ever known.
They are demanding their rights and a greater voice in economic and political life.
We will do all we can to meet their needs and create opportunities.
We will deepen our youth focus and develop an action plan across the full range of UN programmes, including employment, entrepreneurship, political participation, human rights, education and reproductive health.
And I will appoint a new Special Representative for youth to develop and implement our agenda and spearhead a UN youth volunteers programme.
Ladies and gentlemen,
These are the elements of my 5-year Action Agenda.
They are ambitious, but achievable.
Two forces will make all the difference.
First, the power of partnership
Initiatives such as Sustainable Energy for All, Every Woman Every Child, the Global Compact, Scale Up Nutrition and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria are showing what is possible.
We will harness the full power of transformative partnership across the range of UN activities by creating a New UN Partnerships Facility.
It will work with the private sector, civil society, philanthropists and academia to advance common goals, catalyze commitments and promote accountability.
I will also appoint a Senior Advisor to coordinate system-wide partnership efforts.
Second, a stronger United Nations.
I have seen our staff at work in all corners of the world, in the most difficult conditions, sometimes at considerable risk to their lives.
I will extend the work of the Change Management Team and move towards a new compact with staff and Member States alike, a compact based on budgetary discipline and flexibility, a compact based on effective service to the world's people.
We will continue to drive forward our policies on staff mobility – building a modern multifunctional workforce supported by a global secretariat.
And in this age of austerity, we will continue to do more with less.
Finally, I propose to launch a second generation of “Delivering as One”, which will focus on increased accountability and improved outcomes.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Waves of change are surging around us.
If we navigate wisely, we can create a more secure and sustainable future for all.
The United Nations is the ship to navigate these waters.
We represent all peoples. We engage on all issues.
We facilitate dialogue and establish the universal norms that bind us.
We are the venue for partnership and action.
Now is our moment. Now is our time to create the future we want.
Thank you very much for your leadership and commitment.
Statements on 25 January 2012
- New York, 25 January 2012 - Statement Attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on the resignation of Michel Kazatchkine as Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
- New York, 25 January 2012 - Secretary-General's statement following meeting with the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot Leaders