Gyeongju, Republic of Korea

29 May 2016

Secretary-General's remarks at the Official Dinner hosted by the National Organizing Committee of the UN 66th DPI/NGO Conference

It is a great pleasure to participate in this very important meeting, for the first time in Asia, to be convened by the United Nations.

I am deeply grateful to Honourable Governor Kim Kwan-yong and the people of Gyeongju city for hosting us in their beautiful city. Thank you for your warm hospitality and strong support.

The annual DPI-NGO Conference shows how much the United Nations values the contributions of non-governmental organizations.

It is also an opportunity for us to push for real change in our world.

Two years ago in New York, this annual meeting looked at how NGOs could lobby governments to adopt a bold and ambitious post-2015 development agenda to end poverty, protect the environment and foster social inclusion.

By any standard, this is by far the most ambitious and far-reaching vision that world leaders adopted last year to put all 7 billion [of the] world's people and our planet Earth onto a sustainable path by 2030. We will make sure that we make this world and our planet Earth and ourselves to be able to live in a much more  prosperous, healthier and more harmonious  world. That is our strong commitment.

You helped us to succeed in forging this visionary 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. As Dr. Chang said, I feel proud that during my time, upon my recommendations; this vision was adopted by world leaders.

And another one, if I may say to you: the Paris Agreement on climate change. After 20 years of long negotiations, we are now having a real legal document to keep our planet Earth environmentally sustainable; to keep global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius, if possible 1.5 degrees.

These are very important. I hope that NGO members will work together with governments and the United Nations to make sure that these two, the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, and climate change are implemented. You make yourself ensure that government officials, mayors, they are accountable. Raise your voice, keep your eyes open, and closely monitor whether they are doing correctly.

The United Nations will make sure that we work together with you.

We work together with the business community. One of the most important lessons, which I learned during last ten years as Secretary-General, is how we can work together and how we can forge stronger partnerships among governments, business communities and civil societies. That is why the United Nations takes high priority that without NGOs, no government, no United Nations objectives and ideas can be successful.

I applaud you, the organizers [for] he theme this year 'Education for global citizenship to achieve the SDGs' Education is one of the crosscutting issues. Without education, how can you make sure you have human power, human resources who really put into action when we have these visions? So make sure that we have education, global education and put all [the] millions[of] children who are out of school [in].

Korea's success in this world is largely owing to quality education. Korean parents, [the] Korean government; they have sacrificed everything in their possessions for quality education for their children. I am one of the beneficiaries of this quality education.

I hope that this NGO meeting will make sure that education becomes part of every government’s priority policies.

I am especially encouraged to see so many young people. We are working for young people. You are the leaders of tomorrow. I'm leaving next year, I'm leaving tomorrow. When I leave, you [will be] in charge. You will be the leaders. You will be the mayors and governors. In fact, there are many young people who are leaders already today. There is a huge democratizations movement, started from [the] Arab Spring, started from a very young man in Tunisia. You are already a leader. So be proud of what you are doing.

There are still some problems high rate of unemployment of youth. But [at] the United Nations, one of my five priorities, number three: to work for women and young people and with women and young people. Half the population are women; half the sky are women. Then half the global population, more than 3.5 billion, they are young people. The average age is 25 years old. That means our world is very young, so including [the] Korean government, all the governments of the world must make sure we work for young people. I'm sure that young people are taking part in this NGO conference.

I know that because they do not have much money to support them, there are many people that are… they are ‘couch surfing’ – saving costs by sleeping wherever you can. But tomorrow, you will have a better future.

These young people may not always have financial resources but you have the energy, you have the vision, you have the dynamics. That's what we highly value.

I hope we can listen to their voices. Raise your voices. Tell your governments, tell your congressmen that please make sure, this is the world I want. The leaders of this world, this country, they have a huge responsibility to make sure that the women and young people live with human dignity and decent job opportunities. I am asking that they should be given decent equal political, economic, social opportunities.

I will be brief today because I will be making a keynote speech tomorrow. But this is just diner time so I will make you comfortable and relaxing.

Again thank you very much.