UN Chief Urges “Revolution” to Achieve Sustainable Growth
- Revolution required to bring about sustainable growth
- No contradiction between economic growth and protecting the environment: nor between the interests of business and economic sustainability.
- Economic growth must be socially inclusive
- More information on the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2011: http://www.weforum.org
28 January 2011 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the participants
in the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2011 that a “revolution” is urgently
needed in thinking and policy to bring about sustainable economic growth that
can both protect the environment and raise living standards.
“We need a revolution. We need revolutionary change, revolutionary action. We need a free market revolution for global sustainability,” he said in an address to the 41st Annual Meeting.
For this to happen, change must come across the board, including to the way people live, the way they organize socially and the way politics are conducted. But most of all, it needs fast and decisive action on climate change to slow global warming, he said.
“The days of consumption without thought are over,” Ban warned. “Climate change is rendering the old model obsolete.” The old economic model now amounts to a “global suicide pact”.
Ways must be devised to manage scarce resources. However, the problem is that the scarcest resource of all is time. “We are running out of time on climate change, on clean energy,” declared the Secretary-General.
Developing a sustainable growth agenda has become “the agenda for the 21st century,” he said. “Together we need to tear down the walls between a green agenda and a growth agenda. There is no time to waste.”
Finland’s President Tarja Halonen, a co-chair of the UN High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability, called for an approach that combined growth with social justice and environmental sustainability. “We need a modern trinity,” she said, referring to the three policy goals.
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of Indonesia, declared that his government is committed to policies that balance growth and environmental protection. Echoing the words of the UN Secretary-General, he said: “We should not make a contradiction between growth and the need to protect the environment.” Economic growth has to be “inclusive” so that it benefits all sectors of the population. “We need growth with equity,” Ban said.
For Mexican President Felipe Calderón, the situation also presents huge opportunities, “If you are able to produce more, using less (energy), that will be good for the planet,” he said.
Just as there is no necessary dichotomy between growth and protecting the environment, there is no contradiction between the interests of business and economic sustainability, Mike Duke, President and Chief Executive Officer of Wal-Mart Stores, told the participants. “Business should not see a conflict between doing what is right for business and what is right for the world,” he said.
Jim Balsillie, Chairman and Co-Chief Executive Officer, Research in Motion, the Canadian software company, said things are getting worse and the big question is “how do we stop a runaway train.” He called for a fundamental rethink of economics. “We must be extraordinarily ambitious,” he said.
But William H Gates lll, Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said he is optimistic that humankind’s ability to innovate will eventually produce solutions. Just demanding that developing countries cut energy use will not resolve the problem. “You cannot tell a guy in India who is using two candles that he can only use one,” he said.
Notes to Editors
For more information about the Annual Meeting 2011: http://wef.ch/Davos2011
Watch interviews with top leaders about the Davos agenda at http://wef.ch/DavosInterviews
View the best pictures from the Annual Meeting on Flickr at http://wef.ch/pix
Watch live webcasts of the sessions on Livestream at http://wef.ch/live
Watch the sessions on demand on YouTube at http://wef.ch/youtube or http://wef.ch/youku
Ask a world leader on YouTube at http://wef.ch/davosdebates
Become a fan of the Forum on Facebook at http://wef.ch/facebook
Follow the Forum on Twitter at http://wef.ch/twitter and http://wef.ch/livetweet
Check in with the Forum on Foursquare at http://wef.ch/foursquare
Read the Forum Blog at http://wef.ch/blog
Read Forum reports on Scribd at http://wef.ch/scribd
Follow the Meeting on iPhone at http://wef.ch/iPhone
Upcoming Forum events at http://wef.ch/events
Subscribe to Forum News Releases at http://wef.ch/news
For more information about the Annual Meeting, please visit http://www.weforum.org
The World Economic Forum is an international institution committed to improving the state of the world through public-private cooperation in the spirit of global citizenship. It engages with business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.
Incorporated as a not-for-profit foundation in 1971 and headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the Forum is independent, impartial and not tied to any interests. It cooperates closely with all leading international organizations (www.weforum.org).