A Plenary Speech on Preserving World Peace at the 10th World Peace Forum

Ban Ki-moon
At the outset, it is my great honor to speak to you as part of the 10th World Peace Forum (WPF) under the guiding theme of “Preserving International Strategic Stability: Commonality, Comprehensiveness and Cooperation”.
And it is my privilege to deliver these virtual remarks on this topic at such an important juncture for us all.  
Indeed, we currently stand on the precipice of a period of great change; one that will have profound implications for the future of ourselves, our communities, and our planet. As such, the theme of this Forum is quite timely.  
This Forum is serving an essential role in facilitating crucial interactions between the non-governmental think-tank, research community and academia.  
This is incredibly important during this period of great uncertainty and change, one where we need strong civil society engagement to work in partnership with governments and other key stakeholders in order to rise to pressing global challenges and enhance commonality, comprehensiveness, and cooperation.   
We find ourselves at the center of a variety of converging crises and challenges.  
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt our economies, societies, and way of life.
Great power tensions are surging, and the conflict in Ukraine represents one of the most dangerous moments for global security in decades—with profound humanitarian and economic repercussions.  
At the same time, global warming is becoming more and more serious, as temperatures surge, floods rage, and wildfires burn.
COVID-19 and other global crises such as climate change have underlined our fundamental interconnectedness.
And while the crisis in Ukraine has largely stayed regionally contained, its global impacts and risks of miscalculation are growing as the war grinds on.     
In this regard, I firmly believe that we must elevate our sustained efforts to reinvigorate multilateralism in order to holistically address the inherently global challenges of both today and tomorrow.  
No country is an island in today’s increasingly interconnected world; one where trade, technology, and tourism continue to bring us ever closer.  
Despite an increase in nationalist isolationism in recent years, our biggest challenges remain intrinsically global.  
Walls are simply no match for viruses, wildfires, cyber security attacks, or other transnational threats.  
As such, we require solutions underpinned by multilateral cooperation, sustainability, peace, and partnership.  
As the pandemic is ongoing, climate change is worsening, crises are converging, and food and energy security are under threat, we simply must elevate dialogue, enhance mutual trust-building, and expand global cooperation to persevere over the great challenges we face.  
However, in order to holistically reinvigorate and rebuild multilateralism, the ongoing role and great importance of the United Nations is essential.  
In this regard, the following areas should be prioritized by all governments and key stakeholders to synergize UN-led efforts to catalyze a more dynamic multilateralism and forge a more peaceful and sustainable world.
First, we must expand efforts to ensure the global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.  
With the UN in the lead, our multilateral recovery from this pandemic and its secondary impacts must also combat climate change and environmental degradation to steer us to a more inclusive, sustainable, and resilient future.  
Indeed, we must build back better, and greener, by constructing healthier, more inclusive, and more resilient societies for all people and our planet. At the same time, it is critical to strengthen global and national health systems to tackle COVID-19 and prepare for future pandemics.
To lead the world on a brighter future path, the UN should leverage its unique strengths and convening power under the banner of reinvigorated multilateralism.
And all countries—including great powers such as the US and China, as well as small and middle-power countries, have a prominent role to play in fulfilling this vision.  
In this connection, second, all leaders must recommit to the guiding values of the UN Charter “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”.  
Indeed, UN Member States—especially those serving on the Security Council—and other key global stakeholders need to better empower the UN to fulfill its mandate for collective action on peace and security.  
Particularly, the international community must go further in enhancing confidence building and dialogue in both prevention and resolution of the conflicts.
This deep-rooted vision has gained the elevated relevance through continuing process of the review of the UN Peace building Architecture and the historic 2016 adoption of the twin UN General Assembly and the Security Council resolutions on sustaining peace.
I take this opportunity to commend UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ prioritization of prevention, and urge all UN Member States to scale-up their support for his efforts in addressing the root causes of conflict, and enhancing the humanitarian-development-peace nexus.   
However, we are witnessing a lack of requisite political will, which is needed to make such prevention efforts successful.
In this connection, I welcome more proactive role that regional and sub-regional organizations such as the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and others are taking in conflict preventative efforts alongside the UN.   
For example, the Security Council has strengthened its strategic partnership with the AU, which serves as a model of regional arrangements under Chapter 8 of the Charter. Indeed, the AU has been a “first responder” to the crises, before the UN missions took over key African mandates.
However, unless root causes are properly addressed through all stages of crises and conflicts, our efforts simply cannot lead to lasting peace and prosperity.  
This is the timely approach that is advanced through the concept of Sustaining Peace, as defined by the landmark twin resolutions of April 2016.
Moving forward, the Security Council and other UN bodies, as well diverse international stakeholders, could benefit by elevating partnership with the UN Peace Building Commission, which possesses a special convening power to enhance integrated approaches and ensure more effective prevention and crisis management.  
Finally, all global stakeholders need to do much better in mobilizing support for the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and demonstrate greater urgency and ambition on climate action to meet the Paris Agreement targets.
I am of the view that in this era of pandemic, conflict, planetary warming, we should urgently recommit to the SDGs and the Paris Agreement.  
Doing so will help bring us closer together, build back better from COVID-19, and revitalize multilateralism when it is now needed more than ever before.
During my time serving as UN Secretary-General, I strived to bring the entire world together by invoking our great interconnectedness and commonality as well as the universality of such ideals.  
This was particularly true in 2015 when I helped all nations and peoples agree to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement.  
Indeed, we are all in this together, and we all must ensure that the UN’s Global Goals are prioritized all around the world—in Beijing, Asia, and beyond—as they can serve as a guidepost towards the construction of a more luminous multilateral future for all.
The pandemic has made it painfully clear that a new direction centered on health, sustainability, security, inclusivity, and prosperity is greatly needed.  
We are now two years into the beginning of the decade of action to fulfill the promise of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and leave no one behind. This is one of the most important ways to synergize multilateralism to help build back better in the post-COVID-19 world.  
Unfortunately, however, many of the hard-won sustainable development gains over the past few years are now in danger of being lost.  
We are witnessing the troubling reversals on a multitude of SDG targets, as a result of COVID-19 and the economic and societal aftershocks of the Ukrainian war.
Indeed, the global spillover impacts from Ukraine are dangerously multiplying. Energy costs are surging all over the world, putting pressure on populations, as well our planet, as governments recalculate their climate policies in the short term.
At the same time, Ukraine and Russia are known as the “world’s breadbasket”, and grain and other food costs are now spiraling. This will have dire global food security implications and will result in elevated hunger, economic crisis, famine, and potential social upheaval.
Additionally, the pandemic has significantly amplified existing inequalities in health care, labor, education, housing, food, gender, and other key areas.
As such, urgently expanding multilateral cooperation and elevating multi-stakeholder partnership efforts on the SDGs and climate action would help enhance social inclusion in both the pandemic and post-pandemic world.  
Doing so would also enhance food and energy security; boost sustainable growth; promote gender empowerment; fortify public health; scale-up education; and much more.
Transnational challenges including pandemics, climate change, and conflicts demonstrate our inherently interconnected nature and highlight the necessity of strong multilateral responses.
This is how we can preserve international strategic stability; and this is how we will advance a new era of commonality, comprehensiveness, and cooperation for all.  
As such, I humbly call on you all, the 10th World Peace Forum participants, to elevate your active discussions and sharing of best practices during the 4 plenaries and 16 dynamic panels at this year’s WPF.  
At the same time, please enhance your partnership actions moving forward to help reinvigorate multilateralism with a view to preserving world peace and ensuring a more sustainable future for humanity and the planet.
International cooperation is the glue that binds us all together, and the UN system remains its cornerstone.
With your continued active efforts to this end, I am confident that we can harness this time of great uncertainty as a gateway towards a more cooperative, peaceful, sustainable, and prosperous world for all.  

Ban Ki-moon is former Secretary-General of the United Nations.