Press Releases

    19 September 2005

    Today's Threats, Challenges more Interconnected than Ever, Secretary-General Says at Inaugural Meeting of Clinton Global Initiative

    He Urges Participants to Take Role in Leadership, Advocacy; Share Lessons in Accountability

    NEW YORK, 17 September (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's remarks to the inaugural meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, in New York today, 17 September:

    It is a pleasure and a privilege to be with you today, and to join my dear friend Bill Clinton to help launch his wonderful initiative.

    Your meeting is certainly timely.  As you know, the past few days have been a crucial time for the international community.

    As you realize, concluding negotiations of this kind is always a challenge.  But whatever has been achieved or not over the past few days, let us not imagine that it is an end of any sort.

    Our shared aspirations for peace, prosperity and human rights will not abate.  We must keep working to implement what has been agreed, keep working for agreement on what has not, and keep sight of our aspirations in doing both.

    That is why the Clinton Global Initiative is so important.  It recognizes a fundamental reality of the twenty-first century -- that our world is more interconnected than ever before.  So are today's threats and challenges.  They require collective action.  And they require us to act on the understanding not only that development, security and human rights are each of vital importance in their own right, but also that they reinforce -- indeed, depend on -- each other.

    The four priority areas of the CGI reflect that you have understood that well.  All of these areas -- poverty, climate, religious reconciliation and governance -- are crucial to advancing the principles of the Millennium Declaration, adopted by all the world's Governments five years ago as a blueprint for building a better world in the twenty-first century.

    We all have the power to make choices.  We can choose to be silent and turn away.  Or we can step forward and take action.  You are here to make a difference, and there is much you can do.

    On poverty, you can work for stepped-up action at the national and international levels to reach the Millennium Development Goals.  You can help hold Governments to their commitments to reach, by the due date of 2015, this set of objectives ranging from halving extreme poverty to reversing the spread of AIDS.  You can take a role in leadership and advocacy, in promoting the health and productivity of workforces, in sharing lessons of accountability and results-based management, in working with Governments rather than against them.

    On climate change, you can promote efforts to limit carbon emissions, invest in renewables, and integrate climate change into energy policies.  You can help to make the world less vulnerable to the inevitable impacts of climate change, including by being better prepared for severe weather events, such as floods, drought and hurricanes.  You can apply and develop business-led innovations and environmentally sound technologies.  You can ensure that leaders look down the road beyond the time covered by the Kyoto Protocol -- the first commitment period of which extends only to 2012. It is high time to prepare for next steps, where negotiations will require a broad multilateral and universal approach.

    On religion, conflict and reconciliation, we all need to strengthen and develop new ways of pursuing dialogue among cultures, faiths and communities.  Studies show that those societies which have been most successful in preventing conflict are those rich in civil society bodies that promote active and engaged communication -- ranging from sports clubs to professional associations, bringing together public-spirited citizens from different religious or ethnic communities.  You can work to replicate such dialogue on a more global scale; and in those individual countries where you are active, you can work to promote and strengthen it on a local and national scale. 

    Finally, on governance, you can take action on a wide range of areas -- too many to enumerate here.  But let me urge those of you who work in the private sector to join the Global Compact, a partnership that dovetails wonderfully with the Clinton Global Initiative.  I launched the Compact five years ago with the aim of advancing corporate citizenship, so as to help make globalization more stable and inclusive.  Today, the Compact includes more than 2,000 companies and stakeholders around the world.

    In short, I look forward to working with the Clinton Global Initiative on all of your priority areas. I am grateful to all of you for your willingness to get involved in a global initiative of such intelligence and promise.

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