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9 July 2016

Achieving 2030 Agenda Requires Leveraging Comparative Strengths, Resources, Secretary-General Tells Philanthropists in China

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the Inaugural XIN Philanthropy Conference, in Hangzhou, China, today:

For Hangzhou city, I heard a great deal about the beauty and dynamic growth of this Hangzhou city, which is going to be the host of the G20 [Group of 20] summit in September.  Congratulations.  And also I’d like to thank His Excellency Ambassador Liu Jieyi, the Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations.  And Honourable Gordon Brown, former Prime Minster of the UK, now acting as the United Nations Special Envoy for global education.  And I am also happy to meet Mr. Salman Kahn, another keynote speaker today.  And also I’m very pleased to see my good friend Jet Li, a celebrity whom we only see in the movies, but he is also very committed star and thank you very much.  And also Yao Ming.  I also saw him only on TV.  Thank you for your humanity.  I think his chair should be a little bit lower.

Good morning, nihao.  We are very happy to be here this morning in Hangzhou.  This is known to be a most beautiful city, only next to paradise in the heaven.

While we enjoy this gathering and friendship, and while also we are here with many people who are committed to humanity, many philanthropists, business CEOs, Government leaders, our thoughts are naturally with so many people who have lost their lives and who have been affected by these floodings, serious flooding.  We may not be able to fight against all this will of the nature, but at least if we are, well, we are united, when we show our compassion, we can at least caress the difficulties and sadness with our strong solidarity.

Let us work for the families of the victims and many people injured, who have been displaced because of this.  I think our gathering of philanthropists has the larger meaning of how we can help and address and help these people.

I appreciate President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, who have been really working day and night to address these natural disasters.  Let us show our solidarity to them.  This is an important and timely opportunity for a mutual exchange on how Chinese philanthropists can advance sustainable development in China, the region and the world.

Last year was a year of transformation in terms of global cooperation.  World leaders signed on to four pivotal frameworks:  one was the Sendai Framework for Action on Disaster Risk Reduction; the second one was to provide financial support to our goals, this is the Addis Ababa Action Agenda; and thirdly and fourthly, most important is the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals; and the historic Paris Agreement on climate change.  Those four pillars will be our guide, will be our directions.

These milestones sent a powerful message far and wide:  the global community is committed to change our current course.  These agreements aim to ensure a world of peace without poverty; a vibrant and inclusive global economy; a life of dignity and opportunity for all on a healthy planet.  These Sustainable Development Goals will put our 7 billion people and our planet earth on to a sustainable path and for our succeeding generation.

China has provided extraordinary leadership in these multilateral efforts.  At the General Assembly President Xi Jinping called on all world leaders to reject what is known as winner take all mindset, and create a shared future for humankind, based on “win-win cooperation.”

We need your leadership as we march together on the road towards a better future.  Something remarkable is under way.  Together, we are part of a transformative process of change for sustainable development.

The United Nations, Governments, the business communities, youth, the academic community, civil society and philanthropy are coming together, like never before, to turn new ideas into action.  To realize the full aspirations of the 2030 Agenda, with mutual accountability and fair sharing of responsibilities.

One of my very important lessons during my 10 years of service as Secretary-General is that, without partnership established amongst Governments — in this case the United Nations, Government, business community and civil society, these are all elements of partnerships — without all these partnerships we cannot do anything.  We must combine and capitalize on our comparative strengths and resources to achieve results.

Now in this regard, I wish to recognize a new law passed by the Government in March this year, which takes steps to create an enabling environment for the domestic philanthropy sector.  Whether you are Government, NGO [non-governmental organization], or foundation or business, you thrive when society thrives.  You lose when poverty, disease, conflict, illiteracy and poor governance prevail.

The United Nations is deepening its conversation with actors who approach the same problems with different solutions.  I am heartened by the key role philanthropy has been playing as a driver of social and economic transformation.

Philanthropy has flexible capital and can reach scale and have greater impact by collaborating with official development actors and Governments.  But, we need to go beyond viewing philanthropy as a gap-filler for Government.  Philanthropy brings new actors and approaches.  It can be innovative and ground-breaking.

I welcome the strengthened engagement of new and emerging philanthropists in China, and indeed all across the global South.  As new actors enter the global philanthropic space, we have an opportunity to learn from each other.

This meeting will provide such a good opportunity to exchange your visions.  This inaugural Philanthropy Conference will facilitate sharing of best practices and promote learning from the world’s most innovative and successful leaders in social development, philanthropy and business. 

Through the United Nations Global Compact, who are working to orient businesses everywhere towards responsibility and accountability.  I have seen first-hand the power of the UN Global Compact’s Ten Principles on the labour-management relationship, environment, anti-corruption, human rights and many other principles.  They are helping thousands of companies contribute to sustainability.

The Compact’s 80 local networks are the ideal launching pad for campaigns to turn global goals into local businesses.  I ask each of the corporate leaders and entrepreneurs here today to renew your commitment to principled business.  Business is at the heart of wide-spread improvements in living standards, but not business as usual.

We must put people and the planet at the centre of what we do underpinned by human rights.  We need your help to make sure the Sustainable Development Goals are the business of all business and the business of all the people.

I am not here to ask you to give money to the United Nations.  I am here to align your business operations and your business vision to align with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the vision of Paris Agreement on climate change.  I ask you to take this 2030 Agenda as your inspiration and guide. 

That's my main purpose today; in fact, we need your help to make the SDGs [Sustainable Development Goals] a reality for all people everywhere around the world.  It’s not the Government only.  It’s for the people, for the planet earth.  There is no limit to the power of people to make a difference when they join forces for the global good.  This isn’t just wishful thinking.  I have experienced first-hand.

If I tell you something about my own story… but there may be some people who might have heard already, but this may be a broken record story, but you understand that I come from Korea.

Korea is known as a country of Samsung or Hyundai or Gangnam Style, but the Korea when I lived in the 1950s was a totally different world.  At the time when I was only 6 years old, Korea was completely devastated, destroyed by three-year-old war.  There, almost all the infrastructures, buildings, schools were destroyed. 

When we returned after war, there was nothing left, particularly for children like us.  There were no schools, no school buildings, so we had to study under the shade of trees.  And there [were] no textbooks, no pencils, nothing.  No chairs like this.

At that time, the United Nations came not only with military forces, but with the water, food, and clothes and textbooks and all we needed.  At the time, the United Nations was a lifeline.  The United Nations was this beacon of hope.  For us, still, that memory is vivid in me.

When I grew up I thought, I was thinking:  What will be the best way for me to contribute to my country and to the world?  I decided to take public service.  That’s why I’m standing here as the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Can you believe that such a poor, young boy, with the help of the United Nations, with the help of charity and cooperation and solidarity — that was the only way I was able to stand before you proudly as the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Please know that we are the first generation that can end global poverty.  At the same time, we are the last generation that can address climate change.  If you don’t take action now, we will have to regret, we will have to regret for our succeeding generation.  So, I am urging you to show your commitment and solidarity.

This may not seem I’m asking you much, but your solidarity means a great deal.  I know all of you can help the world make these ambitious Goals and commitment a reality.  This is the first year — 2016 is the first year going towards the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and climate change.  We have to make a good first start.  People say that even 1,000 miles begins from one step.  So if you start one step well, that means half done.

The 2030 Agenda provides us a platform to align private action and public policies to fuel a future of opportunity and prosperity for every person on the planet.  You now have the clear political signal you need to unleash the full force of human ingenuity and scale up investments that can generate inclusive and sustainable growth.

It is vital to remember that sustainable development cannot be separated from fighting the impact of climate change.  These are the Sustainable Development Goals, there are 17 goals.  Not a single goal among, out of 17 can be separated.  It is tightly connected.  If you just pull out one, the whole 17 Goals may not be complete.  So, please remember that.

A holistic development model takes climate impact and fragile ecosystems into account, and will benefit both people and the planet.  Addressing climate has many co-benefits, including for health, clean air, national security and energy security.  We must work together across sectors and industries in broader and deeper partnerships.  We may approach the same problems with different solutions, but there is a convergence of goals.

We are here today because we share a common objective, common aspiration:  advancing humanity and tackling the systemic challenges that prevent development.  May the rise of philanthropy in China, and the global South, be a formidable force for our journey to destination 2030.

I thank you, ladies and gentleman, for all your strong commitment for who has helped to seed the ground for a new era of sustainable development, through your contributions, your advocacy and your examples.  Let us work together for a life of dignity for all and opportunity for all the people around the world.  I thank your leadership and commitment.  Thank you.  Xie xie.

For information media. Not an official record.