17 October 2016

Secretary-General’s joint press conference with President Rafael Correa of Ecuador at Habitat III

Señor Presidente Correa, Buenas tardes, Señoras y Señores,

Es un gran placer para mí de estar aquí en Ecuador con Su Excelencia Presidente Correa.

Presidente, muchas gracias por su leadership y hospitalidad.

And I thank you for the very kind words about my role as Secretary-General. From Day 1 as Secretary-General, I have been working very closely with the Government and people of Ecuador. 

And particularly your personal support and leadership has been instrumental in furthering the partnership between UN and Ecuador. I deeply cherish such strong commitment and leadership.

Ladies and gentlemen,

My last visit to Ecuador was in 2011.

Since then, Ecuador has made important advances, reaching almost all the Millennium Development Goals.

The country has also faced challenges, including the most recent tragic earthquake in April.

I take this opportunity to again express my deepest sympathy and [offer] my condolences to those who lost their loved ones. The United Nations stands ready to work with your Government and people to help reconstruct all the destruction caused by the earthquake.

And I commend your Government for its swift and effective response to address this natural disaster.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I discussed the reconstruction process in the positive and productive meeting I just had with President Correa.

We also discussed Ecuador’s contribution to the United Nations.

Ecuador has been a Member State since 1945, and has been a consistent supporter of United Nations values and principles.

It has contributed actively to the preparation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

I now count on Ecuador’s leadership as we implement this transformational vision for people, planet, peace, prosperity and partnership.

I thank President Correa and the Government and people of Ecuador for hosting this important Habitat III conference.

This is the first major international conference being held after the Sustainable Development Goals and the Climate Change Agreement were adopted.

As you know, cities are increasingly the home of humanity.

They are central to climate action, global prosperity, peace and human rights.

Our goal is to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, healthier and sustainable.

I commend delegates at Habitat III for the New Urban Agenda.

It is an action plan for sustainable urbanization.

Over the next 20 years, the people of the world will count on their national and local leaders to implement it with vigour and conviction.

If we get our towns and cities right, we will be closer to achieving all the Sustainable Development Goals by which we can make our cities and our world and our life healthier, more prosperous and resilient.

I count on your continuing engagement and support.

Muchas gracias.

Thank you very much.

Question on the role for Mayors in international governance system.

Secretary-General: I am very much encouraged that we have many hundreds of Mayors, Governors and Councillors participating. It is very important that Mayors and local Government leaders take very strong ownership in implementing the New Urban Agenda.

The United Nations, together with world leaders, have adopted the Sustainable Development Goals and Climate Change Agreement. Now the implementation is the most important [thing]. Most of the challenges are raised in the course of the implementation.

While Presidents, Prime Ministers and Ministers will give political guidelines in their own respective national Governments, it is basically Mayors and provincial Governors who will have to implement on the ground all these 17 Goals and Climate Change Agreement.

When the world leaders were negotiating the Climate Change Agreement, we also had about thousands of Mayors and Governors who gathered in Paris. They have shown such strong commitment and engagement. 

We have also many hundreds of Mayors from big cities [here in Quito]; this shows their determined leadership and I really count on their strong engagement and leadership on the ground.

Thank you, muchas gracias.

Question on how the New Urban Agenda can help for the implantation of the SDGs and of the Paris Agreement.

Secretary-General: The world leaders have taken many important visions and declarations – whatever [you want] to call them. For example, during last year, they have adopted the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement. Before that, they had also adopted the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development and before that, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

These are very important far-reaching ambitious frameworks with which we can make our world better in every aspect of our life – peace, development and human dignity.

With these four major guidelines, we are now going to adopt on Thursday this New Urban Agenda. This will be again a far-reaching vision and guideline, a very ambitious [one].

As you may know, most of the problems that we, as human beings, and the planet Earth face, are coming from our cities and human settlements. Major big cities like Quito - or [other] major big cities we consider the aerial size of them worldwide, it covers only 2 percent of aerial size of our planet. But in terms of demographics […], almost half of the population lives in big cities.

Our estimate is that by 2050, this will double. That means major populations will be centered in the cities. As we have already been seeing, all these major cities, that’s where [you can build] good settlements but at the same time, they [create] a lot of problems: pollution, crime, sanitation, water, health issues, slums, very dirty and very difficult human settlements.

All these problems are now [concentrated] in the major cities. That is why it is highly meaningful and timely that world leaders are now focusing on Habitat issue; how we can make our cities and our lives sustainable in terms of environment, in terms of socio-economic [conditions]. This is, again, very important.

That is why it is important that this Agenda, this New Urban Agenda, be fully implemented.

I am also encouraged to tell you that the General Assembly is going to have a very serious review and accountability process. The General Assembly’s President has already announced that on the margins of the 71st session of the General Assembly, we will have a major review of the political impact on this process.

That is what I can tell you: I am sure that with all these major ambitious far-reaching agreements which we now have in our hands and [that] this New Urban Agenda will complement… They should be implemented by local Governments, regional, federal and central Governments.

I count on President Correa as President of Ecuador but also as President of this important Conference to demonstrate your leadership.

I ask world leaders to take strong ownership of this Agenda so that everybody can live in healthier, resilient and harmonious societies.

Thank you.