Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, Born (1944)

Whoever the Secretary-General of the United Nations might be, he (or she, maybe, someday) is unquestionably a world leader.  But Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary-General from 2007 to 2016, deserves our special recognition as an environmental leader who moved climate change to the top of the world’s agenda.

Ban ki-Moon at World Economic Forum, 2008 (photo by World Economic Forum)

            Ban Ki-moon was born on June 13, 1944, in South Korea when it was still occupied by Japan.  As a boy, he lived through the Korean War.  He said, “I grew up in war and saw the United Nations help my country to recover and rebuild.  That experience was a big part of what led me to pursue a career in public service.” He graduated from Seoul National University and then received an M.A. from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.

            Ban immediately entered his nation’s diplomatic service.  Among his many positions, he was the South Korean Ambassador to Austria (1998-2000) and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade (2004-2006).  On January 1, 2007, he was elected as Secretary-General of the United Nations; he was unanimously re-elected for a second five-year term that ended on December 31, 2016.

            While Secretary-General, Ban focused on climate change as one of his highest priorities.  He led the 2007 Climate Change Summit in Bali, the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, and the 2015 Paris meeting that led to the Paris Climate Agreement.  He oversaw the worldwide focus for sustainable development through the Millennium Development Goals and led the formation of the subsequent Sustainable Development Goals that began in 2015 (learn more about the Millennium and Sustainable Development Goals here).

Ban Ki-moon’s focus on climate change is celebrated as he prepares to leave his position as UN Secretary-General (photo by Unclimatechange)

            Since leaving the UN at the end of 2016, Ban has continued his work on climate change and sustainable development.  With Dr. Heinz Fischer, former president of Austria, he founded the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens, a non-profit organization that seeks to “use its independence, expertise and network to work for peace, poverty eradication, empowerment of youth and women, justice and human rights worldwide.”  He is President and Chair of the Council of the Global Green Growth Institute, which works through 36 member nations to support and promote “strong, inclusive and sustainable economic growth in developing countries and emerging economies.”

            I will let Mr. Ban’s views on climate change and sustainability speak for themselves.

“Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth … these are one and the same fight.  We must connect the dots between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security and women’s empowerment.  Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all.”

“Climate change has happened because of human behavior, therefore it’s only natural it should be us, human beings, to address this issue.”

“It is unfair, politically wrong, morally wrong when countries that have not contributed much to the climate phenomena should bear the cost and consequences.  If industrialised countries who have contributed seriously negatively to this climate phenomena are not taking their own responsibility than who can?”

“We have reached 2020 but because of the lack of political will we have not yet been able to mobilise that which is absolutely, urgently necessary for developing countries to mitigate and adapt.”

“We must turn the greatest collective challenge facing humankind today—climate change—into the greatest opportunity for common progress towards a sustainable future.”

References:

AZ Quotes.  Ban Ki-moon Quotes About Climate Change.  Available at:  https://www.azquotes.com/author/21299-Ban_Ki_moon/tag/climate-change. Accessed February 25, 2020.

Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens.  Mission.  Available at:  https://bankimooncentre.org/mission. Accessed February 25, 2020.

Encyclopedia Britannica.  Ban Ki-Moon.  Available at:  https://www.britannica.com/biography/Ban-Ki-moon. Accessed February 25, 2020.

Global Green Growth Institute.  About GGGI.  Available at:  https://gggi.org/about/. Accessed February 25, 2020.

United Nations.  Former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.  Available at:  https://www.un.org/sg/en/formersg/ban.shtml, Accessed February 25, 2020.

Zacharias, Anna.  2020.  Industrialised countries must help solve climate change, says Ban Ki-moon.  The National UAE, January 8, 2020.  Available at:  https://bankimooncentre.org/mission.  Accessed February 25, 2020.

This Month in Conservation

January 1
NEPA Enacted (1970)
January 2
Bob Marshall Born (1901)
January 3
Canaveral National Seashore Created (1975)
January 4
The Real James Bond Born (1900)
January 5
National Bird Day
January 6
Wild Kingdom First Airs (1963)
January 7
Gerald Durrell Born (1925)
January 8
Alfred Russel Wallace Born (1823)
January 9
Muir Woods National Monument Created (1908)
January 10
National Houseplant Appreciation Day
January 11
Aldo Leopold Born (1887)
January 12
National Trust of England Established (1895)
January 13
MaVynee Betsch, the Beach Lady, Born (1935)
January 14
Martin Holdgate Born (1931)
January 15
British Museum Opened (1795)
January 16
Dian Fossey Born (1932)
January 17
Benjamin Franklin, America’s First Environmentalist, Born (1706)
January 18
White Sands National Monument Created (1933)
January 19
Yul Choi, Korean Environmentalist, Born (1949)
January 19
Acadia National Park Established (1929)
January 20
Penguin Appreciation Day
January 21
The Wilderness Society Founded (1935)
January 22
Iraq Sabotages Kuwaiti Oil Fields (1991)
January 23
Sweden Bans CFCs in Aerosols (1978)
January 24
Baden-Powell Publishes “Scouting for Boys” (1908)
January 25
Badlands National Park Established (1939)
January 26
Benjamin Franklin Disses the Bald Eagle (1784)
January 27
National Geographic Society Incorporated (1888)
January 28
Bermuda Petrel, Thought Extinct for 300 Years, Re-discovered (1951)
January 29
Edward Abbey, author of “Desert Solitaire,” Born (1927)
January 30
England Claims Antarctica (1820)
January 31
Stewart Udall, Secretary of Interior, Born (1920)
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