As part of his ongoing efforts to reach out to major American cities and citizens, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived on his first official trip to Chicago on Thursday morning, 7 February, where he held meetings at several local organizations.
Shortly after his arrival, he attended a luncheon hosted by Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and other city leaders at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park.
He then visited the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, where he met with the Foundation’s President, Jonathan Fanton, and approximately two dozen staff members.
That evening, the Secretary-General attended a dinner at the Economic Club of Chicago. In a speech to the hundreds of business leaders gathered there, he said that the world is on the threshold of a revolution, the “age of green economics”, that would rival the industrial revolution in its impact. With the right financial incentives and a clear and consistent global framework, economic growth could be steered in a low-carbon direction. “Done right, our war against climate change is an economic opportunity, not a cost,” he said. (See Press Release SG/SM/11405)
He later held an onstage discussion with Marshall Bouton, the President of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and took questions from members of the Economic Club of Chicago’s Questions Committee on a range of topics.
On Friday morning, he met with the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune, followed by a meeting with United Nations Association of the United States of America membership.
Later that morning, he visited Chicago’s Walter Payton High School, where he observed students in a mock-United Nations debate on global warming. He later took questions from the students. At a press conference, where he was accompanied by Chicago Mayor Daley, he noted that he was impressed and encouraged to have seen the students debating, and that arguing their positions gives students “greater understanding” of challenges being faced. He said that Walter Payton is “truly nurturing the leaders of tomorrow”. The Secretary-General also commended Mayor Daley for making Chicago “the most environmentally friendly city in the world”.
He then attended a luncheon hosted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, before leaving Chicago in the mid-afternoon for New York, where he arrived that same evening.