Abu Dhabi

17 January 2011

Opening Remarks at Press Conference in Masdar City, UAE

Ban Ki-moon

It is a pleasure to be here. I thank everyone at Masdar City for their hospitality.

Here in the United Arab Emirates, I feel as if I am making two visits at once.

The first, to a UN Member State, the United Arab Emirates, that provides important support for our work around the world.

The second, to the future – a sustainable, clean-energy future, as showcased here in Masdar.

The energy transformation and other ideas and technologies on display here are essential

for minimizing climate risks, meeting the Millennium Development Goals, generating economic growth, and ensuring the health of people and the planet alike.

The fact that Masdar is the brainchild of one of the world's major oil economies is truly inspiring.

We need a global clean energy revolution.

I look forward to continuing to work with all partners - including the private sector - to usher in an era of affordable energy for all.

Today's summit is an important step in that direction, and I thank all involved for their vision and initiative. I have seen here at Masdar City how good leadership can translate a great vision into reality.

Before taking your questions, let me just say a few words about some of the peace and security challenges we are facing in this region.

I am closely monitoring developments in Lebanon.

I strongly support the work of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

It is an independent court of law established at the request of the Government of Lebanon, with a clear mandate from the United Nations Security Council.

The independent judicial process should not be linked with any political debate. It is important not to prejudge the outcome of the investigation.

And no one should politicize the work of the Tribunal. In this context, I would like to stress the need for calm, dialogue and respect for the country's laws and Constitution.

I reiterate my full support for the independent work of the Special Tribunal and I have full confidence in its staff.

I am also following the situation in Tunisia closely. While I feel encouraged by the ongoing dialogue between the caretaker government and a large array of political parties and civil society organizations, I remain extremely concerned about the continued violence and the resulting loss of lives and property.

I urge all concerned parties to ensure an immediate end to the violence. This is a moment for the Tunisian people to strengthen the country's longstanding culture of political moderation and its attachment to peace.

I call on the Government and all stakeholders to ensure a prompt restoration of the rule of law, and to respect and accommodate the aspirations of the people.

Tunisia must regain its stability as soon as possible, to pursue the path of development and prosperity.

I urge the international community to support efforts to restore genuine democracy in the country. The events in Tunisia highlight the need to address the underlying social and economic needs of the population.

Dialogue is essential in order to resolve problems peacefully and to prevent any further violence and escalation.

With respect to the impasse between Palestinians and Israelis, the Quartet has an important role to play in finding a way out, and I expect the Quartet to meet soon.

I continue to call on Israel to relieve the unacceptable conditions in Gaza and to freeze settlement activity anywhere in the occupied Palestinian territory, including in East Jerusalem.

Finally, a word about the UN's broader agenda.

Last Friday, I shared with the General Assembly my strategic priorities for 2011. I highlighted eight specific areas where a concerted effort this year will yield an outsized return.

My top priority will be to achieve sustainable development.

Last year's summit on the Millennium Development Goals adopted an action agenda. We must now press for its implementation. Through success in the Rio+20 Conference next year, we must ensure to achieve growth and prosperity while addressing climate change, energy security, food, sanitation, education and health.

Last month's climate change negotiations in Cancun achieved good progress. We must build on it, as we prepare for this year's meeting in South Africa.

Last year we also created a new agency, UN Women, which began work this month and which we hope will spearhead real gains for women's empowerment.

The agenda for the year ahead also encompasses nuclear disarmament, peace and security, human rights, humanitarian relief.

In all these areas, success also depends on strengthening the UN from within. We will continue to do just that.

Our watchwords are transparency, accountability, efficiency and effectiveness.

Thank you. Now I will be happy to take your questions.