Oct 14, 2016

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at University of Maryland on “Do Good Generation”

It is a great honour for me to be here on the Do Good campus to meet with all the friends and make new friends.

I am thrilled to receive this honorary doctorate in public service.

Now that I have received this honorary degree and now that I see so many distinguished guests and students I’m a little bit relieved. In the diplomatic community you never organize anything on a Friday afternoon. I was half an hour late and I was wondering if there would be some students left. If only the President and Chancellor or Professor Orr had remained, then it would have been humiliating for me!

Secretary-General Ban answers students questions at University of Maryland with Dr. Robert Orr, Dean School of Public Policy

Secretary-General Ban answers students questions at University of Maryland with Dr. Robert Orr, Dean School of Public Policy

I thank you very much for your patience and participating and making yourself available for this very important, meaningful occasion for me.

Again I thank you for your participation and I would like to also thank and recognize the presence of His Excellency, Ambassador Ahn Ho-Young, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea.

I see a lot of the Korean community, Korean-American citizens, and I’m very proud of all that you have been doing as honourable citizens, contributing to this great society.

Again I thank you very much for this honour. As introduced by the Chancellor and President,

I decided to enter public service when I was a young teenager. I was just 18 years old when I visited the United States in 1962.

I think some of you might not have been born at that time!

I was one of the very fortunate, lucky students. I was representing the Korean Red Cross Society and there were about 120 international students visiting at the invitation of the American Red Cross Society.

During the very meaningful programs, there was one in particular that was important: To meet with President John F. Kennedy in August 1962.

I was one of the students from the international community.

At that time, President John F. Kennedy said that, and I’ll try to remember because it was 54 years ago already, he said that the countries and the leaders are not getting along well because it during the height of Cold War – but young people are getting along well.

At that time, he said the national boundaries are not important. What is important is whether you are ready to render your helping hands to people who need support.

That was most inspiring.

At that moment I thought what should I do for my country?

I never thought about the world. I was thinking about my own country. I thought that serving my country as a government official, particularly a diplomat, would be the best way for me to contribute to my country.

I worked hard and I later became a diplomat.

That time, and that inspiring moment, led me to today to serve this great Organization, the United Nations as Secretary-General, working for peace, stability and human dignity for all 7 billion people around the world.

That was the moment, and I really appreciate you recognizing me as a public servant. I think this honorary degree for public service seems fitting for my purpose. I really appreciate it and thank you very much.

I am receiving this honorary degree on behalf of tens of thousands of United Nations staff who are working day and night for humanity, all around the world, day and night.

I thank you very much. I accept humbly this honour on behalf of all them.

Distinguished faculty,

Dear students,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I first want to thank Professor, Dean Robert Orr who I regarded as my teacher when we were working together in the United Nations.

Now he is teaching you, but he used to teach me, even though he was my Special Adviser.

There is no age limit when it comes to learning. I learned a lot, particularly on climate change, and what we should for humanity.

As I know from his many years in my office, he is a powerhouse of energy. He is now bringing that dynamism to this great school. Wherever he works, he creates a buzz.

When I visited last year, I vowed to return. Now that time has arrived. Thank you very much for that.

As Secretary-General, I must, of course be impartial, independent and neutral. I cannot express my support for one side over another.

But here today, I proudly declare myself — a Terp!

Like your mascot, the turtle, the Terrapin, I spend a lot of time up to my neck in sticky situations, and the water is always rising.

I am extremely concerned by climate change and environmental issues.

I enjoy basking in the sun, when I get the chance. Unlike Testudo, rubbing my nose will not bring good luck!

Joking apart, it would be a great honour to be a Terp.

Again, thank you very much for this.

It is an even greater honour to join you as you launch the first Do Good Campus.

The University of Maryland is embracing a trend – from classes where students are creating their own non-profits and social enterprise ventures…

To your award-winning food recovery and food access programmes…

To your work on how past discrimination affects present-day Baltimore…

You are setting a new standard in philanthropic leadership for young people.

You are making crucial links between pioneering research projects, public policy and social change.

It is inspiring to witness what you’re doing.

I’m confident you will instigate Do Good efforts on campuses and in communities across the United States and around the world.

Distinguished Faculty,

Guests,

I would like to talk to you today about three global challenges: climate change, sustainable development, and refugees and migration.

Among these three, climate change and Sustainable Development Goals are two very ambitious visions that world leaders and the United Nations have adopted for humanity.

I’m very proud that I have been part of this process. I hope you will direct some efforts towards these global priorities.

First, climate change.

The Paris Agreement on Climate Change which was adopted December last year will enter into force in record time on 4 November.

In fact, nobody expected that this climate change agreement would enter into force so soon.

It was even difficult for me to expect that this will happen before the end of my term.

But I set the bar high, very high.

I will make sure that the Climate Change Agreement will be adopted by last year and will enter into force before I leave my job.

I am making it happen just almost two months before the end of my term.

I am very much grateful for all world leaders, particularly President [Barack] Obama and President Xi Jinping of China, that have really shown great leadership, great commitment.

I know how difficult it is for President Obama to make this happen during this difficult electoral campaign as well as the congressional situation.

An agreement that once seemed impossible is now unstoppable, inevitable and irreversible.

This is a trend, a big, huge trend that’s now moving

There were some sceptics and deniers, but their voices have been silenced with the wholehearted support of international community.

It is not only government leaders, but business community leaders and civil society.

I was so inspired when, in New York in 2014, I convened a summit meeting on climate change.

Four hundred thousand people marched in Manhattan, shouting and crying for this climate change agreement. World leaders have listened to that voice. Business community leaders, they listen to them. There was a strong civil society.

There are a lot of established records. Normally sports record are to be broken.

Records can be broken, whether 100 meters, a marathon, pole vault, or swimming.

But in the international community, when it comes to certain agreements, conventions and treaties, we are very slow to break any record.

This year, April 22, when this climate change agreement was opened for signature, I invited 175 world leaders to the United Nations: Presidents, Kings, Prime Ministers and Ministers, 175.

This is the first ever record breaking of any agreement, convention or treaty to be signed by 175 countries in one day, in one place.

Such records exist and it happened in 1982 when world leaders signed the United Nations Convention on the Rule of the Sea in Montego Bay, Jamaica in 1982. It was 34 years ago.

Now out of 197 state parties, 191 countries have signed it.

And now 75 countries have ratified it, so we have all crossed thresholds.

In the case of a high jump or pole vault, I think we have crossed all the high bars.

So we have achieved a gold medal. That’s what I’m very proud, the people have shown their strong commitment.

When it comes to climate change, I travelled all around the world during last nine, almost ten years, most recently just last week I was in Iceland again just to show how quickly the glaciers are melting.

For example, on a single day last month the Arctic icecap melted at three times its normal speed, losing ice the size of England. Can you believe that?

The size of England melts in one day.

When Arctic ice melts, it can have catastrophic effects for coastal cities, from Bangkok to Baltimore, and New York. There are many coastal cities that can be inundated.

The Paris Agreement is a huge step forward.

Now comes the real test, implementation.

I’m leaving it to my successor who was appointed yesterday, who was designated yesterday. He assured us that he will carry on all our legacies.

The Climate Action 2016 Summit that University of Maryland co-hosted here in Washington earlier this year, helped us to accelerate progress on the ground.

We are seeing promising momentum.

Second, the Sustainable Development Goals, which we normally call SDGs.

Global leaders came together again a year ago in September of last year, to agree on a visionary agenda for people.

Seven billion people, and for our planet earth, so that they can live in peace and prosperity through partnerships.

It’s not wordplay, but if you can remember the five P’s for Sustainable Development Goals: people, planet, peace, prosperity and partnership.

That is the main philosophical theme of the Sustainable Development Goals. Leave no one behind.

All people should be placed on a sustainable path, together with planet earth where we are living. That’s a main goal.

There are 17 goals starting from eradicating abject poverty, gender empowerment, energy, education, biodiversity, and oceans.

These are ones which cover all spectrums of our life as human beings. And issues like sustainability, environmentally sustainable planet earth.

There is not a single goal among the 17 goals which can work in isolation.

All this must be addressed comprehensively.

That is the vision of world leaders.

It took about three or four years of negotiation. The 2030 Agenda is a pact between governments and their people.

Many governments are aligning behind the goals and setting their own national priorities.

They are seeing exciting opportunities.

Civil society is mobilizing.

I am sure that universities should also align their academic operations with the Sustainable Development Goals and the climate change agreement.

The Climate Change Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals, are, in fact, two sides of the same coin.

They will both require that we reduce fossil fuels, provide access to clean energy, develop production and new consumption patterns.

This will create enormous opportunities for research and investment in clean, renewable energy and other innovative technologies.

Today, I challenge each and every one of you, students and faculty at this wonderful research University, on the doorstep of NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, apply your technical capacity and expertise to this urgent global priority.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The third area I would like to talk about is migration and refugees.

In fact, if you study history, it’s been the natural trend that people constantly move for a better future and better place.

Particularly, these days, people are moving because they have to move, they have to flee from danger.

We have 65 million people who are away from their homes, who have been forced to flee.

This is the highest number since the end of the second World War.

Only during the second World War have we had more than 65 million people displaced refugees.

In the 21st century, with our standards of scientific development, technological development, and economic development, there should be much less, but now we have much more.

That really creates a lot of problems like xenophobia, hatred, discrimination, killing.

That must stop. And we must prevent it.

We have to provide lifesaving assistance to all these people.

This is what the United Nations has to do. But the United Nations cannot do it alone.

No country, including the United States, can do it alone.

Climate change is one of the reasons why living conditions are deteriorating.

Therefore, the United Nations has convened, for the first time in the history of our 71 years, the Summit Meeting on Global Movement of Migrants and Refugees.

That was done at my initiative, and President Obama, on the following day, convened his own summit meeting where I was co-Chairman, focusing on refugees.

The United Nations has agreed and adopted the New York Declaration on Global Movement of Refugees and Migrants. We’re now working to agree on a global compact.

This cannot be done by any country or any group of country. We have to address this issue based on global responsibility sharing.

This has to be shared by all the countries around the world.

Governments pledge solidarity with people who are forced to flee and reaffirm the respect for the human rights of refugees and migrants.

We also launched a global campaign to combat xenophobia called “Together”.

Let us build bridges of mutual understanding and mutual support rather than erecting walls and barriers.

Therefore, “Together – Respect, Safety and Dignity for All.” That has been our catch phrase.

Our campaign is designed to highlight inclusivity and the strength of diversity.

There is a power in diversity. I have been warning world political leaders: Don’t make a mistake by dividing people.

By respecting diversity, you can have much more strength.

Of course, when there are all kinds of different ethnicities and groups of people, it seems to be very much divided.

But when you respect all their traditions and their cultures, and their religions and languages, it can be very inclusive and you can have a much more powerful force and energy.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me close my speech today with one very moving story.

You might have heard about a Syrian refugee, Yusra Mardini. She participated in the Rio Olympic Games as a swimmer.

What happened, when she fled her country of Syria, she was one of many, many people in a small boat, a crowded boat on a sea in Mediterranean.

Then, unfortunately, this boat got engine trouble and they were just drifting. Very dangerous.

She jumped into the sea with some of her friends who were able to swim. They were pushing for three hours. Three hours pushing this boat to the shore.

They were able to do that. They saved their lives.

Of course, she was exhausted, but she and her fellow swimmers had proven the power of human solidarity.

We human beings are all in the same boat.

If we work together we can all make it our destiny – a safer, more sustainable, and just world for all the people.

I call on young people, particularly young students starting with you here today at the University of Maryland, to lead the way and be a Do Good Generation.

The University has taken Do Good campaign to many universities who are now participating in that campaign. Put your energy and values to the best use.

Demonstrate your concern about injustice here in your communities, and around the world.

Think beyond yourselves, do not just think about where you’re studying.

The United States is one the most well-to-do, wealthiest of countries. Just think about other people in Africa, the Middle East, and poor countries. Think about what they need, what they’re doing. You are not able to see them without your heart breaking. Think about all those people.

Have compassion. As young people, you normally have strong passion, but if this passion is not paired with compassion, then you don’t know how you will develop. Passion should be matched with compassion. Have compassion for other people.

Try to raise and widen your horizon.

The world may be small but there are many things you can do. You can contribute.

Therefore, I’m asking you to be a global citizen.

That has been my consistent message to young people. Be a global citizen, be a leader, no matter the profession in your future.

When you have a global vision, you can make this world better for all.

Again, I am very much honoured to have this honorary degree.

I am asking you that we work together to make this world better, where nobody will be left behind.

That is a vision of the United Nations through the Sustainable Development Goals.

I thank you very much for your attention and for your global visions.

Thank you. The Paris Agreement on Climate Change which was adopted December last year will enter into force in record time on 4 November.

In fact, nobody expected that this climate change agreement would enter into force so soon.

It was even difficult for me to expect that this will happen before the end of my term.

But I set the bar high, very high.

I will make sure that the Climate Change Agreement will be adopted by last year and will enter into force before I leave my job.

I am making it happen just almost two months before the end of my term.

I am very much grateful for all world leaders, particularly President [Barack] Obama and President Xi Jinping of China, that have really shown great leadership, great commitment.

I know how difficult it is for President Obama to make this happen during this difficult electoral

campaign as well as the congressional situation.

An agreement that once seemed impossible is now unstoppable, inevitable and irreversible.

This is a trend, a big, huge trend that’s now moving

There were some sceptics and deniers, but their voices have been silenced with the wholehearted support of international community.

It is not only government leaders, but business community leaders and civil society.

I was so inspired when, in New York in 2014, I convened a summit meeting on climate change.

Four hundred thousand people marched in Manhattan, shouting and crying for this climate change agreement. World leaders have listened to that voice. Business community leaders, they listen to them. There was a strong civil society.

There are a lot of established records. Normally sports record are to be broken.

Records can be broken, whether 100 meters, a marathon, pole vault, or swimming.

But in the international community, when it comes to certain agreements, conventions and treaties, we are very slow to break any record.

This year, April 22, when this climate change agreement was opened for signature, I invited 175 world leaders to the United Nations: Presidents, Kings, Prime Ministers and Ministers, 175.

This is the first ever record breaking of any agreement, convention or treaty to be signed by 175 countries in one day, in one place.

Such records exist and it happened in 1982 when world leaders signed the United Nations Convention on the Rule of the Sea in Montego Bay, Jamaica in 1982. It was 34 years ago.

Now out of 197 state parties, 191 countries have signed it.

And now 75 countries have ratified it, so we have all crossed thresholds.

In the case of a high jump or pole vault, I think we have crossed all the high bars.

So we have achieved a gold medal. That’s what I’m very proud, the people have shown their strong commitment.

When it comes to climate change, I travelled all around the world during last nine, almost ten years, most recently just last week I was in Iceland again just to show how quickly the glaciers are melting.

For example, on a single day last month the Arctic icecap melted at three times its normal speed, losing ice the size of England. Can you believe that?

The size of England melts in one day.

When Arctic ice melts, it can have catastrophic effects for coastal cities, from Bangkok to Baltimore, and New York. There are many coastal cities that can be inundated.

The Paris Agreement is a huge step forward.

Now comes the real test, implementation.

I’m leaving it to my successor who was appointed yesterday, who was designated yesterday. He assured us that he will carry on all our legacies.

The Climate Action 2016 Summit that University of Maryland co-hosted here in Washington earlier this year, helped us to accelerate progress on the ground.

We are seeing promising momentum.

Second, the Sustainable Development Goals, which we normally call SDGs.

Global leaders came together again a year ago in September of last year, to agree on a visionary agenda for people.

Seven billion people, and for our planet earth, so that they can live in peace and prosperity through partnerships.

It’s not wordplay, but if you can remember the five P’s for Sustainable Development Goals: people, planet, peace, prosperity and partnership.

That is the main philosophical theme of the Sustainable Development Goals. Leave no one behind.

All people should be placed on a sustainable path, together with planet earth where we are living. That’s a main goal.

There are 17 goals starting from eradicating abject poverty, gender empowerment, energy, education, biodiversity, and oceans.

These are ones which cover all spectrums of our life as human beings. And issues like sustainability, environmentally sustainable planet earth.

There is not a single goal among the 17 goals which can work in isolation.

All this must be addressed comprehensively.

That is the vision of world leaders.

It took about three or four years of negotiation. The 2030 Agenda is a pact between governments and their people.

Many governments are aligning behind the goals and setting their own national priorities.

They are seeing exciting opportunities.

Civil society is mobilizing.

I am sure that universities should also align their academic operations with the Sustainable Development Goals and the climate change agreement.

The Climate Change Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals, are, in fact, two sides of the same coin.

They will both require that we reduce fossil fuels, provide access to clean energy, develop production and new consumption patterns.

This will create enormous opportunities for research and investment in clean, renewable energy and other innovative technologies.

Today, I challenge each and every one of you, students and faculty at this wonderful research University, on the doorstep of NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, apply your technical capacity and expertise to this urgent global priority.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The third area I would like to talk about is migration and refugees.

In fact, if you study history, it’s been the natural trend that people constantly move for a better future and better place.

Particularly, these days, people are moving because they have to move, they have to flee from danger.

We have 65 million people who are away from their homes, who have been forced to flee.

This is the highest number since the end of the second World War.

Only during the second World War have we had more than 65 million people displaced refugees.

In the 21st century, with our standards of scientific development, technological development, and economic development, there should be much less, but now we have much more.

That really creates a lot of problems like xenophobia, hatred, discrimination, killing.

That must stop. And we must prevent it.

We have to provide lifesaving assistance to all these people.

This is what the United Nations has to do. But the United Nations cannot do it alone.

No country, including the United States, can do it alone.

Climate change is one of the reasons why living conditions are deteriorating.

Therefore, the United Nations has convened, for the first time in the history of our 71 years, the Summit Meeting on Global Movement of Migrants and Refugees.

That was done at my initiative, and President Obama, on the following day, convened his own summit meeting where I was co-Chairman, focusing on refugees.

The United Nations has agreed and adopted the New York Declaration on Global Movement of Refugees and Migrants. We’re now working to agree on a global compact.

This cannot be done by any country or any group of country. We have to address this issue based on global responsibility sharing.

This has to be shared by all the countries around the world.

Governments pledge solidarity with people who are forced to flee and reaffirm the respect for the human rights of refugees and migrants.

We also launched a global campaign to combat xenophobia called “Together”.

Let us build bridges of mutual understanding and mutual support rather than erecting walls and barriers.

Therefore, “Together – Respect, Safety and Dignity for All.” That has been our catch phrase.

Our campaign is designed to highlight inclusivity and the strength of diversity.

There is a power in diversity. I have been warning world political leaders: Don’t make a mistake by dividing people.

By respecting diversity, you can have much more strength.

Of course, when there are all kinds of different ethnicities and groups of people, it seems to be very much divided.

But when you respect all their traditions and their cultures, and their religions and languages, it can be very inclusive and you can have a much more powerful force and energy.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me close my speech today with one very moving story.

You might have heard about a Syrian refugee, Yusra Mardini. She participated in the Rio Olympic Games as a swimmer.

What happened, when she fled her country of Syria, she was one of many, many people in a small boat, a crowded boat on a sea in Mediterranean.

Then, unfortunately, this boat got engine trouble and they were just drifting. Very dangerous.

She jumped into the sea with some of her friends who were able to swim. They were pushing for three hours. Three hours pushing this boat to the shore.

They were able to do that. They saved their lives.

Of course, she was exhausted, but she and her fellow swimmers had proven the power of human solidarity.

We human beings are all in the same boat.

If we work together we can all make it our destiny – a safer, more sustainable, and just world for all the people.

I call on young people, particularly young students starting with you here today at the University of Maryland, to lead the way and be a Do Good Generation.

The University has taken Do Good campaign to many universities who are now participating in that campaign. Put your energy and values to the best use.

Demonstrate your concern about injustice here in your communities, and around the world.

Think beyond yourselves, do not just think about where you’re studying.

The United States is one the most well-to-do, wealthiest of countries. Just think about other people in Africa, the Middle East, and poor countries. Think about what they need, what they’re doing. You are not able to see them without your heart breaking. Think about all those people.

Have compassion. As young people, you normally have strong passion, but if this passion is not paired with compassion, then you don’t know how you will develop. Passion should be matched with compassion. Have compassion for other people.

Try to raise and widen your horizon.

The world may be small but there are many things you can do. You can contribute.

Therefore, I’m asking you to be a global citizen.

That has been my consistent message to young people. Be a global citizen, be a leader, no matter the profession in your future.

When you have a global vision, you can make this world better for all.

Again, I am very much honoured to have this honorary degree.

I am asking you that we work together to make this world better, where nobody will be left behind.

That is a vision of the United Nations through the Sustainable Development Goals.

I thank you very much for your attention and for your global visions.

Thank you.