His Excellency Charles Michel
CHARLES MICHEL, President of the European Council, said that 75 years from now, 11 billion people will likely inhabit the planet. He imagined that there will be new space conquests and new discoveries about the untapped potential of the human brain. At the same time, he questioned whether large territories will still be habitable, whether forests will be preserved, water available, the climate managed humanely, and whether the dignity of each person will be weakened or strengthened. He expressed concern, as a political leader and as a citizen, stressing that collective empathy is part of the engine of progress. “Freedom and respect are renewable sources of energy,” he said, lessons learned from the provisions laid out in the Charter of the United Nations. To be sure, divisions and injustice have always been synonymous with regression, conflict and war. Describing the United Nations and the European Union as the two greatest projects for peace in our time, he said the challenges today, however, are different and they require fully collective efforts. “We are all accountable before another,” he said, quoting former United Nations Secretary‑General Kofi Annan. The unprecedented COVID‑19 crisis has opened the world’s eyes to the integrity and dignity of each human being. International cooperation offers a guarantee for the deployment of vaccines and treatments that are accessible to all. While customs and cultures may differ, cooperation requires unstinting efforts to overcome misunderstanding, and beyond that, to embrace respect. “It is not our rhetoric that will matter,” he said, but rather, the collective actions taken to foster a better world.