11 July 2008


United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, accompanied by Madam Ban Soon-taek, arrived in Sapporo, Hokkaido, in northern Japan from Seoul, Republic of Korea, on Monday morning, 7 July.  He immediately travelled by road to the site of the Summit of the Group of Eight (G-8) leaders gathering at Toyako ( Lake Toya).

He first attended an Outreach Working Session on Development for Africa, which included leaders from South Africa, Algeria, Senegal, Ghana, United Republic of Tanzania, Nigeria and Ethiopia, as well as from the African Union and World Bank, in addition to the G-8 leaders.

That was followed by bilateral meetings with the President of Senegal, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia and the President of the European Commission.

He then held a joint press conference at the International Media Center in the ski resort of Rusutsu with World Bank President Robert Zoellick on the global food and fuel crises, efforts to combat climate change and the race to attain the Millennium Development Goals.

He said that the world faces three simultaneous crises:  a food crisis, a climate crisis and a development crisis.  The three are deeply interconnected and need to be addressed as such, he stressed. 

He began the day on Tuesday in Sapporo with a meeting with the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, who was also in Hokkaido for the G-8 Summit.

The Secretary-General then addressed students and had a lively exchange with them at Hokkaido University.  The focus of his remarks was on the world's food challenge in the context of the triple interlinked challenges he had been flagging in recent weeks.  (Please see Press Release SG/SM/11688.)

“We are already beginning to see the ripple effect of this crisis,” he said.  “It is having the greatest impact on the most vulnerable countries and vulnerable people -- women and children, especially in Africa.”

“Ties between neighbouring States are being worn down, as those with food restrict the supply to those without.  Ties between Governments and their citizens are coming under stress, as populations protest when they cannot sustain their standards of living,” he said.  “We must act now and together, responsibly, as one world community, for one shared humanity, to avoid a collapse of what food security the world enjoys today.”

Warning that, “if we do not, we will pay an unacceptably high price”, the Secretary-General urged the G-8 leaders to take the political, financial and economic steps needed to stop the global food crisis from deepening.

After attending a luncheon hosted by the President of Hokkaido University, the Secretary-General met with South African President Thabo Mbeki, and went to a reception hosted by the Hokkaido Government for the G-8 Outreach Session on Climate Change.

On Thursday morning, the Secretary-General travelled by helicopter to the G-8 Summit site to attend the Major Economies’ Leaders Meeting on Climate Change, participated in the Group Photo with the G-8 and other world leaders, held a bilateral meeting with the Indonesian President and took part in the Outreach Working Lunch.

In a statement, the Secretary-General welcomed the statement of the G-8 on climate change and the environment, including the long-term goal of reducing emissions by at least 50 per cent by 2050.  This, against a 1990 baseline, is a clear step forward, but we must go further, he said.  (Please see Press Release SG/SM/11689.)

He added that he was happy to see the strong commitment of the G-8 to address the global food crisis in a Global Partnership for Food, facilitated and coordinated by the United Nations.

The Secretary-General appreciated particularly the endorsement received for his High-Level Task Force and its Comprehensive Framework for Action.  He added that we must use the current crisis as an opportunity to significantly step up public and private investment in agricultural production and research, and in rural infrastructure at levels above $25 billion per year.

He said he was encouraged that the G-8 reiterated its promise to deliver on the official development assistance commitments made at Gleneagles and Heiligendamm and call for quick and concrete progress to realize these goals before the 2010 deadline.  He welcomed the focus in Hokkaido on achieving the Millennium Development Goals, and noted with satisfaction that health is receiving increased attention, including fighting infectious disease, including neglected tropical diseases, strengthening health systems, and addressing maternal, newborn and child health.

The Secretary-General emphasized that, following the Summit, the challenge now is to move beyond discussions to action.

He departed Sapporo for New York via Tokyo’s Narita Airport on Wednesday afternoon, ending his three-nation, 13-day trip to North Asia.

For information media. Not an official record.