Press Releases

    6 February 2004

    Reaching Millennium Goals Requires Tapping Human Creativity, Innovation to Fullest Extent, Secretary-General Says at Launch of Interacademy Council Report

    NEW YORK, 5 February (UN Headquarters) --     Following is the text of opening remarks by Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the launch of the InterAcademy Council Report, “Inventing a Better Future:  A Strategy for Building Worldwide Capacities in Science and Technology”, today:

    I am delighted to welcome all of you here to UN Headquarters.  And I would like to thank those of you who have travelled long distances, knowing your very busy schedules, to come here.  I am really looking forward to our session this afternoon. 

    As you know, here at the United Nations, it is usually issues of peace and security, war and peace, that grab the headlines.  Throughout the past year, for example, they have been overwhelmingly dominated by the Iraq crisis, and I cannot say it has subsided.

    And yet, for most of the world’s people, there is a wholly different set of issues that are equally immediate and real, if not more so.

    Issues that most directly affect what we hope to achieve for ourselves and our families.  Issues that relate to building a life free of poverty and deadly disease, with enough food and clean drinking water, in a clean and safe environment.

    Issues that are identified in the Millennium Development Goals, adopted by all the world’s leaders here at the United Nations Millennium Summit in September 2000.

    The eight commitments contained in the Millennium Development Goals range from halving poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education -- all by the target date of 2015.

    I believe they represent a set of powerful objectives that every man and woman in the street, from New York to Nairobi to New Delhi, can easily understand and support.

    Reaching the Goals requires us to tap into human creativity, resourcefulness and innovation to the fullest extent possible.

    That is where science and technology come in.  The United Nations and its partners hope to mobilize the best scientific minds of our time, and put their expert knowledge and advice at the service of the world’s peoples, as they work to reach the Millennium Development Goals.

    The InterAcademy Council, established in May 2000 by a number of national science academies from around the world, has set out to do exactly that.

    We have gathered here to witness the launch of the InterAcademy Council’s first major report, ambitiously entitled Inventing a Better Future.

    The report proposes new initiatives to strengthen national scientific capabilities worldwide, and to foster opportunities for cooperation among the world’s scientific and technological communities.

    We must do all we can to translate the report’s recommendations into actions.

    I am delighted that we will hear today from the co-authors, and other members, of the study panel that produced the report.  All of them are renowned scientists of international stature, as are the leaders of the InterAcademy Council, who are also with us.

    I hope the Council and the wider world scientific community will build further on this foundation, in partnership with the United Nations and its agencies, other international and regional organizations, and, of course, the world’s governments. That is how the potential of science and technology can be realized in the struggle to improve the human condition.

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