Ban Ki-moon has begun his second term as Secretary-General of the United Nations by pledging to harness “the strong power of partnerships” to respond to the planet’s biggest challenges, such as tackling climate change, combating poverty and empowering women and girls.
In an interview today with the UN News Centre and UN Radio to mark the start of his second term, Mr. Ban, 67, stressed the need for unity, particularly among Member States and their citizens.
“Together, nothing is impossible,” he said, adding that “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.”
Mr. Ban reiterated his priorities for the second term, spelling out the five “generational opportunities” he sees for the UN: promoting sustainable development; preventing natural and man-made crises and disasters; making the world safer and more secure; helping countries and peoples in transition; and encouraging gender empowerment.
“We have to connect the dots among climate change, [the] food crisis, water scarcity, energy shortages and women’s empowerment and global health issues. These are all interconnected issues.”
Mr. Ban, whose second five-year term as Secretary-General began on Sunday, said “people power” and deepening globalization represented the biggest development since he first took office in 2007.
“We have seen so many people – marginalized people, oppressed people – who have been yearning for democracy, their dignity and human rights. We have [a] heavy responsibility to help them in [their] transition to democracy.
“With the deepening of globalization, we have seen so many things happening in the world. There are many good ideas and many people really wanted to be connected… We have to help this transition to materialize as soon as possible. Being united depends on us.”
The Secretary-General cited his meeting with a boy during a visit last year to the South Pacific island country of Kiribati – where the land is threatened by rising sea waters – as an example of the enormous faith and expectations which the peoples of the world invest in the UN.
“He appealed to me to ‘Please help us address this climate change. Our homes and our way of life may be swept away overnight’,” Mr. Ban recalled, saying it is one of the reasons why climate change must remain at the top of the global agenda.
The Secretary-General also emphasized the need to keep modernizing the UN in his second term to help the 193-member world body adapt to contemporary changes.
“Technology outpaces our current thinking, peoples’ ideas and our current way of working,” he noted. “We have to make our Organization more nimble, more efficient and effective, and transparent and accountable.”