Academic Impact, Says Secretary-General, Aims to Spawn Global Movement of Minds to Promote Culture of Intellectual Social Responsibility

1 November 2010

Academic Impact, Says Secretary-General, Aims to Spawn Global Movement of Minds to Promote Culture of Intellectual Social Responsibility

1 November 2010
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Academic Impact, Says Secretary-General, Aims to Spawn Global Movement


of Minds to Promote Culture of Intellectual Social Responsibility


Following is the text of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the “United Nations Academic Impact for a Better World” Conference in Shanghai, today, 1 November:

Thank you for your welcome.  It is good to see so many distinguished representatives of the academic community, Government officials and the private sector.  Thank you for coming together in support of the United Nations Academic Impact.

China, and the city of Shanghai, is a fitting place for us to join forces.  Innovation and change are all around us.  At every turn, we see cutting edge ideas and technology, born perhaps in a college laboratory or a library, through the spark of a professor, the curiosity of a student, the dynamism of a classroom.

Last year, I visited a state-of-the-art solar facility in Xian.  I saw energy efficiency technologies that will help us to tackle climate change.  But I saw something more:  a mutually reinforcing partnership between global and national purpose, a melding of scholarship and entrepreneurship in the service of humankind.

Yesterday, I was honoured to take part in the closing of the Shanghai Expo.  Before that I visited some of the remarkable pavilions.  More than 70 million visitors witnessed an extraordinary display of ingenuity from China and the world.  The Shanghai Expo may now be history, but we can carry on its spirit of openness, dialogue and exchange with the world.  That is what draws us together.  And that is what China itself has made a high priority.  It plans to dramatically strengthen its education system at all levels.

The United Nations understands the enormous impact of scholarship, innovation and ideas.  We are trying to harness that great power to build a better world, a world where human ingenuity will make our homes, communities and consumption patterns socially and environmentally sustainable, a world where research receives the funding and support it needs to defeat disease, deprivation and despair, and a world where the unlearning of intolerance will bridge barriers that still divide nations and peoples.

Promoting and advancing these goals is the essence of the United Nations Academic Impact.  We have been laying the groundwork for this initiative for some time now, with great support from the academic community.  Later this month, we will launch it officially at United Nations Headquarters in New York.  It will help serve as a clearing house to better match academic innovation with particular areas of work of the United Nations — neglected areas of research, countries in need of specific help, research that will help deliver concrete change on the ground, and the best ideas to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

I am encouraged by the support demonstrated here.  I have high hopes for what the initiative — and all of us — can do together in the future.  Of course, the United Nations and the academic community already enjoy a strong partnership.  Academic Impact will deepen it further for the twenty-first century.

We know about corporate social responsibility in the business world.  The Academic Impact aims to generate a global movement of minds to promote a new culture of intellectual social responsibility.  It is animated by a commitment to certain bedrock principles.  Among them:  freedom of inquiry, opinion and speech; educational opportunity for all; global citizenship; sustainability; and dialogue.

I welcome your ideas on how we can make the most of this initiative.  This week, the eminent Shanghai-born physicist, Dr. Charles Kao, celebrates his seventy-seventh birthday.  We salute one of the fathers of applied science, recognized around the world for his achievements in the field of optical communication.  Dr. Kao once said, “Optical communication is not just a technical advance, it will continue to change the way people learn, the way they live and relate to each other, as well as the way they work.”

I believe Dr. Kao’s observation can be applied more broadly to all human knowledge, innovation and discovery.  Scholarship — and a commitment to the academic freedom that underlies it — will continue to drive the ideas and energy that will change our world for good.

The United Nations stands ready to be an active partner with you in ensuring that your knowledge, skills and scholarship advance our universal goals of peace, development and human rights.  Thank you for coming together in support of these noble goals.  Together, we can help ensure that the impact of your academic work can have maximum impact on our world.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.