New York

20 September 2019

Secretary-General's remarks at Peace Bell Ceremony [as delivered]

It is not by chance that this event started with music.  Music is a universal language, and music is the best tool we have to promote peace. 
 
I am deeply grateful for the fantastic work that our two Messengers for Peace do, because what they represent is extremely important for us. 
 
Of course we are use to seeing them receiving standing ovations in fantastic performances in great music rooms around the world. 
 
But I want to remember just a few months ago, I was with Yo-Yo Ma not in Carnegie Hall or Lincoln Center or Covent Garden, not with an enormous audience of people, but in a small room, in a poor neighbourhood, with young people of diverse natures exactly making music be a factor of unity, of valuing diversity, and creating the basis that is necessary for communities to live in peace. 
 
So thank you very much for your wonderful contribution to our peace message.
 
Indeed, peace is the goal that unites the United Nations.
 
And each year on this day, we come together to renew our commitment to peace and a world free of violence and strife.
 
But we know that peace is beyond the reach of so many people and communities. 
 
Around the world, we see conflicts everywhere, tensions growing, power relations unclear and insecurities on the rise. 
 
That is why today we call on combatants around the world to lay down their arms and observe a day of global ceasefire and non-violence.
 
We know that peace is more than just the absence of war. It is about respect, tolerance, and thriving societies in which people live in harmony with each other and with the environment.
 
Our theme this year is exactly “Climate Action for Peace” because we know how much climate change threatens world peace.
 
We see it in worsening air pollution and more frequent heatwaves.  Rising sea levels and disappearing lakes.   Unpredictable weather patterns and forced migration. 
 
Natural disasters and extreme weather events -- many a direct consequence of climate change -- are displacing three times as many people as conflicts.
 
The competition for resources is creating tensions between peoples and countries.

It is no coincidence that the countries most vulnerable to climate change are often those most vulnerable to conflict and fragility.
 
Look at the Sahel where we see conflict spreading, terrorism spreading, and one of the key factors of that fact is climate change accelerating drought and accelerating the competition between farmers and herders for scarce resources and facilitating the work of terrorists all around.

Indeed, the adverse effects of climate change on stability have been recognized from Central Asia to the Lake Chad Basin, from the Middle East to the Sahel to  the Horn of Africa and beyond.

Action on climate change – including our efforts on disaster risk reduction – in which Japan has had a leading role and Sendai represents a landmark in our common work, is an integral part of building a culture of prevention, addressing the drivers of disorder and ensuring peace.

We are indeed in a race against time.
 
Urgent climate action is needed if we are to win that race, and we must.
 
And millions of people around the world are asking for that today.
 
This is also why I am convening the Climate Action Summit on Monday.
 
I have told world leaders to come with concrete and bold plans that will help us to  keep the rise of temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius to the end of the century, achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and cut carbon emissions by 45 per cent by 2030.   The objectives the scientific community tells us are necessary.
 
Raising ambition and taking climate action is crucial if we are to live in peace and build a world of resilience and prosperity for all.
 
Before I ring this bell and sound a call for peace and a day of non-violence, I would like to ask you please to join me in a minute of silence for all those victims of war and conflict around the world.
 
Thank you.