New York

31 October 2011

Secretary-General's remarks at press event on Day of Seven Billion

SG: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. It is a great pleasure to see you.

Before we begin, let me say just a few words about the terrorist attack near the UN offices in Kandahar early this morning.

As you may know, a car bomb was exploded at the gate of a local NGO that shares a common wall with the UNHCR compound. When the wall collapsed, suicide attackers entered the UN premises. Three UN security guards were killed and two others were wounded. Two security contractors were killed as well.

Like others before it, this attack underscores the risks that UN and international aid workers face in Afghanistan. I would like to emphasize, once again, that this work is purely humanitarian. Its sole purpose is to improve the daily lives of the country's people.

Our thoughts this morning are with the victims and their families.

Mr. President of the General Assembly, thank you for taking part in this press briefing on the world's population.

I also thank Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin of UNFPA and Ms. Slagjana Sokolova for their leadership.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today the world's population reached 7 billion.

The world's population reached 6 billion in 1998, 13 years ago. It is expected to grow to 9 billion by the middle of this century, or even a few years earlier - by 2043.

But today –this Day of Seven Billion –is not about one newborn, or even one generation.

This is a day about our entire human family.

Look around you. Scan the news headlines.

Famine in the Horn of Africa.

Fighting in Syria, and elsewhere.

Protests against growing economic inequality, from Wall Street to Main Street.

Rising public anger. Loss of faith in governments and public institutions to do the right thing.

Our world is one of terrible contradictions.

Plenty of food but one billion people go hungry.

Lavish lifestyles for a few, but poverty for too many others.

Huge advances in medicine while mothers die everyday in childbirth, and children die every day from drinking dirty water.

Billions spent on weapons to kill people instead of keeping them safe. .

What kind of world has baby seven billion been born into?

What kind of world do we want for our children in the future?

Tomorrow, I leave for the G20 summit in Cannes. My message will be loud and clear:

Think about our children. Think about the future, with vision and foresight.

Yes, we face a serious economic crisis. For much of the world, fiscal austerity is the new order of the day. Yet even in these difficult times, we cannot afford to cut loose those who are hardest hit.

We cannot break our solemn pact with the world's poor.

We can not burn our way to the future - at the cost of destroying our planet.

And we have to empower women and young people. Around the world, they have taken to the streets demanding their rights, new opportunities and a voice in their future.

At the G20 summit, we need to deal with all these issues - squarely and directly. The world's people want answers from their leaders. They expect solutions, not half-measures or excuses.

Last week, I visited a New York public school. One student said to me, “If I am part of the problem, I want to be part of the solution.”

Today, we are all part of the [problem]. We must all be part of the solution.

Today, we welcome baby seven billion. In doing so we must recognize our moral and pragmatic obligation to do the right thing for him, or for her.

I am one of seven billion. You are also one of seven billion.

Together, we can be seven billion strong - by working in solidarity for a better world for all.

Thank you very much.