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December 9, 2015

Responding To: Reflections on the Future of Global Governance

Remarks on the Future of Global Governance

Ban Ki-moon

Excerpted from the Secretary-General's Remarks at IPI Forum on the Future of Global Governance, UN Headquarters, October 23, 2015

Global governance is not keeping pace with the challenges of a more complex and interconnected world. We need to tune all of our institutions to the times – times in which even the most local problems have a global dimension. A common narrative is emerging – one that recognizes that failure to more effectively prevent and address interconnected problems such as conflict or inequality or climate stress will have severe and costly consequences across all dimensions of our work. The various UN reviews and initiatives recognize we cannot continue to address problems in separate, unrelated silos.

Our shared goal is to ensure that the United Nations and its partners are “fit for purpose” to deliver on ambitious commitments. With that understanding, allow me to briefly highlight four common themes emerging from the various reviews.

First, we need greater focus on prevention and resilience. The work of the United Nations is animated by our Charter commitment to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.” Yet if budget priorities were a Christmas stocking, prevention efforts would receive a lump of coal. They are chronically underfunded. They are routinely under-prioritized. The Sustainable Development Agenda calls on us to take a people-centred, planet-friendly approach. It promises we will leave no one behind. This will not happen by solely fighting fires, when evidence shows that they could have been prevented had we acted and invested early. That is why we must do much better in addressing the root causes of vulnerability, conflict and disaster. We must do more to anticipate crises. We must act to strengthen people’s ability to cope, adapt and recover from complex shocks. Weak institutions. Inequality. Human rights abuses. These are among the drivers of conflict – and that understanding is the impetus behind my Human Rights Up Front initiative. Early warning signs must trigger early action.

A second major area of convergence among the reviews is the need to strengthen partnerships. No organization or country can do it alone. The various reviews uniformly recognize that implementing ambitious goals cannot be done by the UN system alone. Or by Member States alone. Achieving a peaceful, sustainable future is a collective effort, starting now. We need to strengthen and expand current partnerships. And we need to reach out and build new ones to enhance delivery based on cost-effectiveness, comparative advantages and respect for national priorities. We are widening the circle of partnership with civil society, academia, the private sector. I am committed to deepen our interaction with regional organizations such as the African Union. This is paying dividends in conflict prevention; preventive diplomacy, peacekeeping and peacebuilding and much more. The various reviews call for all of these ties to be strengthened – and that is what we must do.

Third, financing. The reviews all acknowledge the importance of getting the financing right. Achieving the SDGs will require major investments. We are working to ensure $100 billion a year by 2020 for climate change mitigation and adaptation. Our humanitarian appeals are at record levels. And we have more peacekeepers than ever deployed around the world. Many of the reviews call for more resources, improved flexibility in the use of funds, the creation of different funding facilities, and a greater share of public and private funding to meet shortfalls. For the UN, the need is for better interconnection and sequencing of financing requests. We know investments in climate change, for example, will reduce the risk of instability and future funding needs for peacekeeping, peacebuilding and humanitarian support. Investments in conflict prevention and peacebuilding will increase stability and lower peacekeeping and humanitarian costs. We must take advantage of these resource synergies.

Fourth and fundamentally, the reviews highlight the critical need for greater participation of women and girls. Excluding women from employment opportunities hinders sustainable development and economic growth. Excluding women from peace processes hinders peace. Excluding girls from schools holds societies back. We need an all-of-society-approach that fully and equally incorporates the contributions of women in every aspect of our work. The reviews rightly prioritize gender mainstreaming and the role of women as central to success. I have highlighted women’s leadership in making, building and keeping peace. I have appointed five women who are now serving as my Special Representatives in peacekeeping missions. I have also appointed the first-ever female Force Commander. Some might call that a major achievement. I call it a good start. All of us must step up our efforts for women’s empowerment to achieve Planet 50/50.

Ban Ki-moon is the eighth secretary-general of the United Nations.

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