UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the 'Day of 7 Billion'
The following is a transcript of remarks delivered by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York as the agency marked the official declaration that the world's population hit 7,000,000,000 on Oct. 31, 2011:
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Today, the world’s population reached seven billion.
The world’s population reached six billion in 1998, 13 years ago. It is expected to grow to nine billion by the middle of this century, or even a few years earlier — by 2043.
But today — this Day of Seven Billion – is not about one newborn, or even one generation.
This is a day about our entire human family.
Look around you. Scan the news headlines.
Famine in the Horn of Africa.
Fighting in Syria, and elsewhere.
Protests against growing economic inequality, from Wall Street to Main Street.
Rising public anger. Loss of faith in governments and public institutions to do the right thing.
Our world is one of terrible contradictions.
Plenty of food but one billion people go hungry.
Lavish lifestyles for a few, but poverty for too many others.
Huge advances in medicine while mothers die everyday in childbirth, and children die every day from drinking dirty water.
Billions spent on weapons to kill people instead of keeping them safe. .
What kind of world has baby seven billion been born into?
What kind of world do we want for our children in the future?
Tomorrow, I leave for the G20 summit in Cannes. My message will be loud and clear:
Think about our children. Think about the future, with vision and foresight.
Yes, we face a serious economic crisis. For much of the world, fiscal austerity is the new order of the day. Yet even in these difficult times, we cannot afford to cut loose those who are hardest hit.
We cannot break our solemn pact with the world’s poor.
We can not burn our way to the future — at the cost of destroying our planet.
And we have to empower women and young people. Around the world, they have taken to the streets demanding their rights, new opportunities and a voice in their future.
At the G20 summit, we need to deal with all these issues - squarely and directly. The world’s people want answers from their leaders. They expect solutions, not half-measures or excuses.
Last week, I visited a New York public school. One student said to me, "If I am part of the problem, I want to be part of the solution."
Today, we are all part of the [problem]. We must all be part of the solution.
Today, we welcome baby seven billion. In doing so we must recognize our moral and pragmatic obligation to do the right thing for him, or for her.
I am one of seven billion. You are also one of seven billion.
Together, we can be seven billion strong — by working in solidarity for a better world for all.
Thank you very much.