Ban Ki-moon: global inequality sows “bitterness and despair”

UN chief issues plea for governments to back ambitious set of sustainable development goals, due to be agreed in September

Pic: Africa Renewal/Flickr

Pic: Africa Renewal/Flickr

By Ed King

Inequalities between rich and poor around the world threaten to sow “bitterness and despair”, UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday in New York.

Governments are at a “historic crossroads” and could give millions of people below the poverty line a brighter future, said Ban.

The UN chief was launching his set of development priorities for 2015, which he said must move away from a “business as usual” trajectory.

“Our globalized world is marked by extraordinary progress alongside unacceptable — and unsustainable — levels of want, fear, discrimination, exploitation, injustice and environmental folly at all levels,” he said.

“We also know, however, that these problems are not accidents of nature or the results of phenomena beyond our control.

“They result from actions and omissions of people, public institutions, the private sector and others charged with protecting human rights and upholding human dignity.”

Over 190 countries are primed to adopt a set of targets later this year, which will guide international development policy until 2030.

The sustainable development goals (SDGs) will replace a set of eight objectives agreed in 2000. These included eradicating hunger by 2015, reducing child mortality and combatting diseases like HIV/AIDs.

Campaigners hope the SDGs will set countries’ wider development strategies on a more sustainable pathway, using resources more efficiently, ensuring energy access for all and addressing climate change.

Negotiators have agreed on a draft set of proposals, but need to distill these by September when they will be formally accepted at the General Assembly.

Tacking climate change is listed as one of the 17 main challenges the world faces, but it could be axed if envoys decide they want a more concise list.

The next round of monthly SDG talks take place 19-21 January.

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