“We must act, in Hokkaido and beyond -- not merely because it is the right thing to do but also because it is in the enlightened interest of all of us,” Mr. Ban wrote in an op-ed published in all G-8 countries ahead of the group's meeting scheduled to begin tomorrow on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.
That theme was also a key message of the letter the Secretary-General had sent to the G-8 leaders in which he underscored that the world was facing three challenges that required their urgent attention: the food crisis, climate change, and progress on the anti-poverty targets with a 2015 deadline known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Mr. Ban warned that unless decisive action is taken on the food crisis, an additional 100 million people around the world could fall below the poverty line. He recommended that the proportion of Official Development Assistance (ODA) earmarked for agricultural production and rural development be increased from the present level of 3 per cent to a new level of 10 per cent, without diverting funds from current education or health budgets.
On climate change, he wrote that it is essential to reach agreement on what a new climate change regime will entail, taking into account elements agreed upon by participants at last year's historic conference in Bali.
Yesterday, the Secretary-General issued a call to students taking part in a Model UN conference at Cheongju University, some 200 kilometres from the Republic of Korea's capital Seoul, to look beyond national boundaries and aim high to help solve world's numerous problems.
“Look at all the names of countries each of you are representing today, you will see that there is a whole world out there,” said Mr. Ban, who himself attended school in the city of Cheongju. “Yes, you are Koreans but you should go beyond that and see that you are also citizens of the world. Korean may not be a global power; but Korea can be a global nation; Koreans can be global citizens.”
The Secretary-General also paid a visit to Haengchi village, his birthplace, where he and Mrs. Ban Soon-taek were welcomed by relatives, villagers, traditional music and drum ensembles and many others who traveled to see him.
He arrived in the Republic of Korea from China, the second stop on a three-nation tour that also took him to Japan.