Mr. Ban Ki-moon served two consecutive terms as Secretary-General of the United Nations (2007-2016). Throughout his tenure at the UN, Mr. Ban sought to be a bridge builder, to give voice to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable, and to make the organization itself more transparent and effective. Mr. Ban worked closely with member states of the UN to shape the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In his new course, Mr. Ban will take you through the 5 goals of the UN’s 2030 sustainable development agenda & inspire you to take action.
What first sparked your interest in working on this course?
This kind of learning allows you to participate from whichever part of the world you are in. This could be a good opportunity to raise awareness not only to the learners in the developed world but for all in the developing world as well. Education is not something you take, it is something you use to give back to the world. It should be used for the common good of humanity. I would like to encourage you to see our world as your community.
What does “Sustainable Development” mean to you?
It is the agenda for the 21st century. That is going to be a top priority of the United Nations. Above all, that means connecting dots between challenges which we have been addressing separately, including climate change, food crisis, water scarcity, energy shortages, gender equality, gender empowerment and global health (non-communicable diseases). The Bruntland Commission of 1987 defined Sustainable Development as “the development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This means strong economic and social development in particular for people with a low standard of living. On the surface, these issues might seem like distinct issues, but they are linked very closely.
What do you think people will be most surprised to learn from your section of the course?
This planet is at risk, and the challenges we are facing today cannot be tackled anymore within the borders of one country, no matter what that country is.
Why is it important for learners to know and understand the 2030 Agenda?
It is important for learners to know and understand the 2030 Agenda because it is the “Global Goals”, they are the result of an unprecedented and transparent years-long consultation process. People across the world shared their vision for a better world and what is needed to attain it. From access to education to ensuring healthy lives to taking climate action to achieving gender equality, global citizens everywhere made their voices heard on the issues that matter.
For people to play their part, they must first know about the Global Goals, and the more people that know, the more successful the goals will be.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is crucial to the survival of Earth. “We don’t have a plan B because there is no planet B.” The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development now sets the vision for the next 12 years of global action. The SDGs encompass the unfinished business of the MDGs, but go well beyond poverty eradication, breaking significant new ground. The 2030 Agenda is a universal, integrated and human rights-based agenda for the future of our planet.
Do you have any advice for individuals interested in working for international development organizations, such as the UN?
I would say, persistence and dedication are key. The organization is a very interesting, complex, and challenging workplace in which we grew immensely both professionally and personally.
International work experience is very valuable, engagement with non-profit organizations as well as international NGOs can also show that you have an interest in development and that you are driven by the cause. Specific skills and long experience in a certain area is of course of great value, and if you somehow have managed to combine it with activities that show your engagement for the values and focus of the agency you are applying to – you should be a great asset.
I call on you to give back as a global citizen. Rise to the challenges of your generation. Keep your head above the clouds and your feet firmly planted on the ground, then advance step by step. Also please be proud to be young, and you must also be prepared for tomorrow.
How has education played a role in your career path and your professional achievements?
When I was a child in wartime Korea, we were constantly told to study hard. That was the only way to invest in our future – and it worked.
Everything I am, I owe to education – including textbooks donated by the United Nations agencies UNESCO and UNICEF.
Every child deserves that global solidarity. Education is not something you take, it is something you use to give back to the world. It should be used for the common good of humanity. I would like to encourage you to see our world as your community.
How do you see the Olympics and other international sporting events playing a role in sustainable development?
Sport is an important enabler of sustainable development. International sporting events like the Olympics can be unique opportunities to raise awareness and advocate for important messages, goals and objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Also, there is a growing global consensus that sustainable development and prosperity must be applied to large-scale international sporting events such as the Olympics that can have a significant impact on the environment, economy and society for a long period from preparation to post utilization.
Sign up for Sustainable Development in The 21st Century with Ban Ki-moon now.