05 April 2013

Remarks upon acceptance of New Economy Forum Award

Ban Ki-moon

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon delivers remarks upon receiving New Economy Forum Award for Economic and Social Development, Madrid, Spain. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

Cynics expected the MDGs [Millennium Development Goals] to be abandoned. Some felt they were too ambitious .... Instead, the Goals have mobilized action and achieved remarkable results... We need to accelerate our work..., make the most of the next 1,000 days and meet the millennium promise.

I am deeply honoured to receive the “Nueva Economia Forum Award for Economic and Social Development.”

I know that through me, you recognize the global work of the Organization I am proud to lead: the United Nations.

With this award, you advance the critical understanding that the three pillars of the United Nations – development, peace and human rights – are inextricably linked and indispensable in today’s world.

And you give timely support to the power, purpose and enormous potential of multilateralism.

That force is represented in an unprecedented way here tonight.

On this stage, we have a very rare sight. I am proud to be joined by the leaders of the UN agencies, funds and programmes around the globe, including the World Bank and its President Dr. Jim Kim.

We gather only once a year outside of New York, and much of our time is taken up with internal stock-taking and strategic planning.

But I am very glad that they can join me here together, on stage this evening. Their activities span the globe and encompass the full agenda of human aspiration and need.

I ask that they stand and be recognized.

In honouring our United Nations team, you ultimately pay tribute to the women and men who bring our work to life: our brave and dedicated UN staff, so many of whom venture to the frontlines of conflict, disaster, poverty and exclusion to bring hope and help to the poorest and most vulnerable members of the human family.

On behalf of the United Nations and all the colleagues here beside me, let me assure you that we will continue to do everything in our power to prove worthy of your confidence and support.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This tribute comes at a time when we at the United Nations are engaging in a constructive debate about the future.

The world is at a critical juncture. We are moving through a diverse and dramatic transition.

The changes are economic, as new powers and groups emerge.

The transition is also developmental, as we seek a more sustainable path.

At the same time, politics are on the move, as people are awakened against oppression, corruption and misrule, and are rightly demanding a greater role in shaping their own destiny.

Our challenge is to harness these new energies and work together for peace, justice and opportunity.

Tonight is especially meaningful for us to come together in this great endeavour.

This ceremony coincides with a milestone in our efforts to create a fair and just world for all.

Today – April 5th -- marks precisely 1,000 days until the end of 2015, the deadline set by world leaders to reach the Millennium Development Goals.

The MDGs are our eight-point blueprint for a more prosperous, equitable and sustainable world. They were established in the year 2000.

Cynics expected the MDGs to be abandoned. Some felt they were too ambitious. Other questioned the value of setting precise targets.

Instead, the Goals have mobilized action and achieved remarkable results.

Global poverty has been cut in half. We have improved access to drinking water and conditions for people living in slums. More girls are in school. Child and maternal mortality is declining dramatically.

Yet we continue to struggle against extreme poverty, inequality and insufficient access to sanitation.

Climate change remains a paramount threat.

We need to accelerate our work for the MDGs, make the most of the next 1,000 days and meet the millennium promise.

And as we look beyond 2015, we need a transformative agenda that focuses on decent jobs, social inclusion and food security. A vision that puts people and the planet at the centre. One that brings clean water and sustainable energy to the millions who lack it. One that ensures fair access to markets and resources, and strengthens financial and economic stability for all countries.

Beyond these specific issues and concerns, we need something larger: a greater sense of common cause and shared fate.

In marking the 1,000 days, I thought of a person who embodies that world we want – someone who has shown through her example that in order to meet our goals, we must empower women and girls; we must speak out for justice; we must stand up to forces of division and discord.

And so on this special day, I picked up the phone and called Malala Yousafzai.

Actually, I communicated with her in a 21st century way. We Skyped!

Malala is the brave young girl from Pakistan who was targeted and shot for simply going to school and speaking out for education.

Her country and the world rallied around her. She is back in the classroom, and she told me that she is determined to keep making a difference. I was deeply moved by her plain- spoken courage, fearlessness and hope.

That is what we need now more than ever.

A will to look outward, not inward – a vision that extends beyond ourselves to future generations – a resolve to act not on news cycles or election cycles, but to offer hope throughout people’s lifecycles.

In a word, global citizenship.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Spain has honoured the United Nations tonight. Let me now return the favour.

Spain has been a key partner of the United Nations across our agenda, from development to humanitarian assistance, from peacekeeping to prevention, from peacebuilding to democracy-building, from mediation and human rights.

I look forward to Spain’s continued engagement. We need your generosity to respond to the worsening crisis in Syria and to the misery across Mali and the Sahel. We need your political support to promote stability in the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

We need your ongoing sponsorship of the Alliance of Civilizations initiative, our effort to counter extremism and promote mutual understanding among peoples and countries alike. And we need your solidarity with the downtrodden and marginalized, so that we can continue making steady progress in improving the human condition.

I look forward to working with the 1,000 of you here in this beautiful venue to make the 1000th day from now a moment of great achievement in improving the lives of people everywhere, and in making a down-payment on ending extreme poverty in our time.

We can do this, together.

On behalf of my colleagues here and around the world, thank you again for this prestigious recognition. Thank you even more for your commitment to building a better world for all.

Muchas gracias.