New York

28 September 2015

Secretary-General's toast at lunch for Heads of State and Government

Your Excellency President Barack Obama of the United States of America, Your Majesties and Royal Highnesses, Distinguished Heads of State and Government, Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

What a remarkable bunch of days we have just had. 

Only at the United Nations can Pope Francis and Shakira appear on the same stage within minutes of each other!

I didn’t know whether I should pray or dance!

We also hosted Hollywood superstar Michael Douglas and Jazz icon Herbie Hancock. Those two could make a blockbuster movie with a brilliant soundtrack. But they were here to make peace.

David Beckham, the football great, and Bono, the rock star, were here as well to shine their unique spotlights on the United Nations.

During the Pope’s historic visit, he wrote a profound blessing in our guest book, expressing his hope that our service would be marked by humanity, solidarity and justice.

Only at the United Nations can so many world leaders, from so many different traditions, with so many different views, break bread together like this today. Thank you for your participation.

I would like to express my gratitude to President Obama and the people of the United States for their continuing support and [for being] a wonderful host country. 

And I would like to thank all of you, distinguished Heads of State and Government, for being part of one of the largest gatherings of world leaders in history.

We are celebrating the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

We are also marking the 70th anniversary of the United Nations.  At the end of this lunch, we will present to each of you a beautiful book marking this occasion. Please carry it to your home.

We are celebrating -- but we also know that these are times of turmoil.  And we know that the agreement on the new agenda and 17 goals is only the first step.  Now the real work begins.

As they say, there is no such thing as a free lunch! Here is what I hope you will do.

Please take the goals home.  Tell everyone about them.

Put your political influence behind them through legislation and other domestic efforts.  Back it up with money.

Own the SDGs, and make the goals your priorities. The priorities by the leaders of countries will make a significant difference. Make them come alive.

This will not be easy.  Other issues and interests will compete for your attention.

But I believe the dividends will be great -- first and foremost for your people and our world.  But also for you, personally.

We should all feel blessed to be serving at this time. 

I am confident that the SDGs will do what the MDGs did, only more so.

And I believe that, years from now, you will be able to look around at the impact the SDGs are having, and then look back at this period and say proudly: Look, I was there.  I helped set the SDGs in motion.

Some leaders and ambassadors serve when things are quiet.  You are fortunate to be in office when there are so many big challenges on our plates.

I will count on your leadership to pass today’s tests and set the stage for a better tomorrow.

In that spirit, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, let me propose a toast: to all of the leaders’ continued good health, and to the prosperity of your country, and to the prosperity of the whole world, and to the United Nations, which in its 70th year is as vital and necessary as ever.

Thank you again. Cheers to the United Nations.