Secretary-General, at Event with ‘Future We Want Champions’, Hails UN-China Engagement in ‘Full Spectrum of Sustainable Development’

18 July 2012

Secretary-General, at Event with ‘Future We Want Champions’, Hails UN-China Engagement in ‘Full Spectrum of Sustainable Development’

18 July 2012
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Secretary-General, at Event with ‘Future We Want Champions’, Hails UN-China


Engagement in ‘Full Spectrum of Sustainable Development’


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at an event with “Future We Want Champions”, in Beijing on 18 July:

What a wonderful film.  I thank all those who made this film possible, especially the Modern Media Group.  There were no car chases, no kung fu fights, no special effects. But it made me keep on the edge of my seat. It was quite an impressive movie which is giving us a lot of meaning, a lot of lessons [about] what we should do in 20 years after. Twenty years after, I will be almost 90 years old.  I am not sure what I will be doing. Definitely I will no longer be Secretary-General.

But this movie really asks me to prepare all what I can do during my term as Secretary-General, so that in 20 years after, all the wishes which we heard from those young people can be realized.  Let us discuss how and what we can make this world free from whatever [people lack]: fuel, water and also gender empowerment; no fear, no terrorism, no war, no conflict.  That is the world which we want to achieve, realize, 20 years after, in 2032.

It is exciting to hear people’s dreams for the future.  We are all part of the great human project of building a better world for all.  Good ideas can come from anywhere, anyone, of any age, any time.  As Secretary-General of the United Nations, I spend a lot of time thinking about our future and the future of many people — of our children or great-grandchildren.  And we already know a great deal about the year 2032.

United Nations forecasts tell us that world population will continue to grow.  We welcomed the 7 billionth child in October last year.  By 2050 it will be 9 billion.  Sixty per cent of us will be living in megacities, like Beijing, Shanghai.  Urbanization will create still a lot of problems, challenges for all of us.  We know that we will need 50 per cent more food, 45 per cent more energy and 30 per cent more water by 2032.

Here’s something else we know: if we continue on our present path for the next 20 years, we risk global catastrophe.  People simply do not recognize that we have limitations.  Our planet Earth has limits.  The human footprint has already overstepped the planet’s boundaries — and not just in terms of carbon emissions.  The way people have been abusing this planet Earth, it seems that they believe we have more than one planet Earth.  But we should know we have only one planet Earth.

We need a new course that truly balances economic growth, social development and environmental stewardship.  This is a recipe for long-term stability and well-being.  That is the future we want.  That was also the vision set out a generation ago, at the first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.  We made a conceptual breakthrough that first time in Rio, putting the idea of sustainable development on the map.

Despite noble, notable achievements since then, our efforts have not lived up to the measure of the challenge.  Last month’s Rio+20 summit meeting in Rio de Janeiro was an attempt to rejuvenate the cause.  And we did.  We were successful.  The Rio+20 meeting was a success.  With more than 100 Heads of State or Government, including Prime Minister Wen Jiabao of China, participating, we renewed political commitment to sustainable development.

The conference also agreed to launch a process to establish a set of Sustainable Development Goals — building on the Millennium Development Goals.  Beyond the official outcome document, Rio also generated hundreds of specific commitments: a zero hunger effort to end childhood malnutrition; projects to help small farmers improve resilience and productivity; renewable energy; education.

Rio mobilized billions of dollars for these and other initiatives.  Rio also mobilized hundreds of millions of people through social media.  Just like the men, women, girls and boys in the film we just saw, hundreds of millions of people from around the world joined the online conversation to share their visions and demand action.

Yesterday, I had the unique pleasure of having dialogue through Weibo social media.  I do not know how many millions of people have watched my conversation.  It was a great experience for me to directly communicate with the young men and women in this country.

Rio+20 was not an end, but a new beginning — a milestone on an essential journey towards 2032 and beyond.  The United Nations is strongly committed to being China’s partner on this path.

I have just had very good meetings with President Hu Jintao and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.  We discussed in depth how China can contribute to establishing and making a sustainable path.  Our engagement already spans the full spectrum of sustainable development.  We have worked together on fuel efficiency strategies for China’s automotive industry.  Our China Green Economy Report is helping Chinese policymakers in their shift towards a low-carbon economy.  From forest management to worker protection, from women’s empowerment to disaster risk reduction and the fight against HIV/AIDS, our country team continues to work hand in hand with Chinese counterparts.

China has taken up this challenge as energetically as any other country in the world.  It is already a leader in wind power.  It is the world’s largest solar [photovoltaic] manufacturer.  China is doing this through farsighted use of incentives, subsidies and regulations — through smart policymaking.  And China keeps raising its sights, elevating its ambitions, recognizing the potential of renewable energy to create jobs, protect the environment, improve health and generate profits — these are win, win, win, win propositions.

When I think about the world in 2032, I also worry about the spread of deadly weapons, about terrorism, about armed conflict and about intolerance.  These, too, must be among the issues we address in building the future we want.  Peace, development and human rights are interlinked and mutually reinforcing.  We need to move ahead on all these fronts.  We can no longer defer the difficult decisions to future generations.  We cannot afford to wait for Rio+40 or Rio+60.  Time is not on our side, and we must act before it is too late.

I have been saying that nature does not wait for human beings.  Nature does not negotiate.  They just go on their own way.  We have to adapt and we have to prepare ourselves.  As Secretary-General of the United Nations, I am striving to raise awareness, build bridges among peoples and get our global strategy operating effectively.

But I am not just Secretary-General.  I am also a father and a grandfather.  So I also think about 2032 in those terms.  We have to prepare our world [to be] more hospitable, more environmentally sustainable for our succeeding generations — your children, your grandchildren.

I want a world where not only my children, your children and grandchildren can live free from threats, where men and women can live together with the same opportunities and dignity.  That is the future we want.  We have heard many such wishes.  People with disabilities and people who are in vulnerable positions should all be able to live freely with dignity, freedom and human rights.  This is the world which we want.

Thank you again to all of you for your creativity and engagement in this essential undertaking.

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