NEW YORK, New York, January, 2012 (ENS) - Ban Ki-moon began his second five-year term as secretary-general of the United Nations on Sunday with environmental issues high on his list of priorities.
"We have to connect
the dots among climate change, food crisis, water scarcity, energy shortages
and women's empowerment and global health issues. These are all interconnected
issues," said Ban in an interview with the UN News Centre and UN Radio on
December 27, 2011.
Ban, a career diplomat in
South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in the United Nations, said the
priorities for his second term are the five "generational
opportunities" he sees for the the 193-member world body.
Two of them are
environmental - promoting sustainable development and sustainable energy for
all, and preventing natural and man-made crises and disasters.
The other three are more
general - making the world safer and more secure, helping countries and peoples
in transition, and encouraging gender empowerment.
Ban will present his
administration's plan of action to accomplish these goals to the General
Assembly later this month.
In several recent
speeches, the secretary-general has recalled his meeting with a boy during a
visit last year to the South Pacific island nation of Kiribati - where the land
is threatened by sea level rise - as an example of the enormous faith and
expectations which the peoples of the world invest in the United Nations.
"He appealed to me
to 'Please help us address this climate change. Our homes and our way of life
may be swept away overnight'," Ban said.
said that boy's appeal is one of the reasons why climate change must remain at
the top of the global agenda.
"I came to office
speaking of climate change as the defining challenge of our era. I was
determined to raise it to the top of the global agenda," Ban told a news
conference on December 14, 2011.
"Five years later,
we have made significant progress - from Bali to Copenhagen to Cancun and, now,
Durban," he said.
"At Durban, we
defied the sceptics," Ban said. "We showed clearly that UN
multilateral negotiations can deliver: consensus on a clear target and timeline
for reaching a legally binding agreement involving all countries; a
recommitment to the Kyoto Protocol and the institutions that have produced
major reductions in greenhouse gases; advances on technology and financing,
including the Green Climate Fund."
He said, "Looking
ahead, we will build on this Durban spirit of cooperation to advance on climate
change financing and, in particular, our new initiative on Sustainable Energy
In recognition of the
importance of energy access for sustainable economic development and supporting
achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, the UN General Assembly has
designated 2012 as the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All.
The secretary-general is
leading this initiative, which calls for private sector and national
commitments and aims to attract global attention to the importance of energy
for development and poverty alleviation.
The goal is to meet three
objectives by 2030: ensuring universal access to modern energy services,
doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency, and doubling the share
of renewable energy in the global energy mix.
In June, all these issues
will be front and center at the United Nations Rio+20Conference
on Sustainable Development.
World leaders will gather
again in Rio de Janeiro 20 years after the UN's seminal Earth Summit where two
environmental treaties were launched - the Convention on Biological Diversity
and the Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Ban is pledging to harness
"the strong power of partnerships" to respond to the planet's biggest
challenges, such as climate change and poverty.
is impossible," he told UN News. "If we strengthen these partnerships
among governments, business communities, civil organizations and
philanthropists, then I think all these powerful partnerships can bring us
towards the right direction."
"There is a broader
lesson," Ban told reporters at the December 14 news conference.
"Whether the issue is climate change, peace, security and human rights, or
humanitarian relief, the United Nations has never been so needed."
"I believe we are at
an inflection point in history. All is changing. The old rules are breaking
down," said the secretary-general. "We do not know what new order will
emerge. Yet we can be confident, the United Nations will be at the fore."
January 8, 2012.