A Plenary Speech on Reassessing International Order at the 9th World Peace Forum

By Ban Ki-moon

Beijing,3 July 2021


It is my great honor and privilege to speak to you today at the 9th World Peace Forum (WPF).I express my sincere thanks to President Qiu Yong for inviting me to this Forum.


Since its inception in 2012, the World Peace Forum has played a pivotal role in the promotion of global cooperation and the enhancement of international security.


And this year’s Forum comes at a significant time for ongoing efforts to ensure “Post-Pandemic International Security Cooperation” and synergize action with a view towards “Preserving and Practicing Multilateralism.”


Today, we find ourselves at the center of a variety of converging global crises and increased uncertainty that have made it necessary to reassess the international order.


The COVID-19 pandemic continues to upend our economies, societies, and way of life.


Climate change is steadily worsening; with superstorms, extreme heat, flooding, fires, and droughts all expanding in both frequency and intensity.


Both great power tensions and regional conflicts are growing, hampering key geopolitical cooperation when it is needed the most.  


Meanwhile, cyber-attacks are surging in scope and severity, andthreateningnot onlyinternational security, but also energy and food security for ordinary people.


Under this backdrop, I firmly believe that we must elevate our sustained efforts to reinvigorate multilateral cooperation in order to holistically address the inherently global challenges of both today and tomorrow. Doing so will help forge a brighter, more harmonious international order that is fit for purpose in the post-pandemic epoch.  


No country is an island in today’s increasingly interconnected world.Indeed, isolationism is simply no match for viruses, wildfires, cyber-attacks, sea level rise, orothernon-traditional security threats.


As such, we require solutions underpinned by multilateral cooperation, sustainability, inclusion, and partnership. To achieve this, I am of the view that all nations and peoples must urgently come together in the following three areas.


First, we need to ensure equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and go further in the fight against vaccine inequity.  


This is the most pressing task ahead of us, and one that can simultaneously strengthen multilateral collaboration and set the stage for a more secure and cooperative international order in the pandemic and post-pandemic eras.


Thankfully, a variety of safe and effective vaccines are beginning to be distributed,after more than 180 million COVID-19 cases and now approaching 4 million tragic deaths globally.


But, at the moment, only about 20% of the global population — mostly those in wealthy countries — have received one jab of a COVID-19 vaccine. That is why global leaders have a moral and humanitarian obligation to rectify the current situation of gross vaccine inequity and urgently come together in solidarity to vaccinate the world.  


We must remember: no one is safe until everyone is safe.


I am encouraged that G7 nations recently pledged to donate 1 billion vaccine doses by the end ofnext year. However, with around 10 billion shots necessary to vaccinate the world, and dangerous variants threatening to derail the hard won gains in containing the virus to date, more commitments are desperately needed. As such, I urge G20 nations to go even further with pledges for the developing world ahead of the Rome Summit in October.


And commitments must be transformed from pledges into concrete results, represented by shots in thehumanity’s arms. With this in mind, I call on all nations to enhance their support for the COVAX mechanism in its guiding mission to get vaccines to those in need.


I take this opportunity to commend China’s robust commitment to ensuring that its COVID-19 vaccines become global public goods, as exemplified by its recent donation of 10 million Sinopharm vaccines to COVAX.


I also urge pharmaceutical companies and other key partners in the private sector all around the world to significantly ramp up vaccine production and do everything they can to help vaccinate all of humanity.


We have the ability to do so, butjustlack the political will.       


Second, as we strive to vaccinate the world, leaders must also elevate their actions to harness the transformational blueprint of the United Nations Global Goals to build peace and security, and ensure sustainable development.   


Indeed, in this era of pandemic, division, planetary warming, and increased uncertainty, we should recommit to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Agreement.


This will help bring us closer together, build back better from COVID-19, and revitalize multilateral cooperation when it is now needed more than ever before.


Doing so would also tackle hunger and poverty; boost sustainable growth; fortify public health; advance climate action; scale-up education; and much more.


The pandemic has made it painfully clear that a dynamic new international order — one centered on health, sustainability, security, cooperation, inclusivity, peace, and prosperity — is needed for all peoples and our planet.  


During my time as UN Secretary-General, I am incredibly proud to have brought the entire world together to agree to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Adopted by 193 countries in New York in 2015, the SDGs offer us a way forward to solve the most critical issues of our time. They also provide humanity and our planet with a collaborative framework to leave no one behind and ensure the future we want.


Nearly six years since their adoption, the SDGs have made tangible progress on bettering maternal mortality rates, combatting poverty and hunger, and improving the quality of water and sanitation.


But progress is uneven on others, with some sectors and geographic areas moving faster than others, and COVID-19, conflict, and climate change all leading to troubling reversals in SDGs implementation on the ground.


With this in mind, global partnerships are necessary if we are to deliver on our development commitments. SDG 17 highlights the prominent role that the private sector, alongside government, civil society, academia, and others, should play to help achieve the SDGs. It calls for “multi-stakeholder partnerships that mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources, to support the achievement of the sustainable development goals in all countries.”


As such, I urge all WPF 2021 participants to elevate SDG partnership action.


Third, considering the long term habitability of our planet and the existential fate of humanity is at stake, we simply must come together to raise our urgency and ambition in addressing the rapidly worsening climate crisis.


Climate change is fueling insecurity, conflict, refugee flows, and public health perils around the world. Species are at risk of extinction and ecosystems are collapsing.

And these threats do not discriminate: all nations are, and will continue to be, endangered by them as the world continues to warm.


As a result of climate change, rising sea levels are an existential threat to many small island developing states as well as some of the world’s most populous and economically-important cities around the world.


In recent weeks, much of the northern hemisphere has been suffering through an exceptional heat wave, with temperatures in the Siberian town of Verkhoyansk in the Arctic Circle even soaring to 48 degrees Celsius on June 21.


And densely populated areas of the Middle East and South Asia are now experiencing heat waves so severely thatmedicaldoctors are sounding the alarm about the capacity of humans to physically withstand them in the years ahead.


But warming is not just a future threat. A landmark study released last month in the scientific journal Nature says that nearly 37 percent of all global heat-related deaths can now be blamed on human-caused climate change.      


Tomitigate these threats, we must expediently step-up our collective efforts to cut global emissions and implement the Paris Climate Agreement.


During my ten years serving as Secretary-General of the United Nations, I am proud to have prioritized climate change and elevated its importance to the very top of the international agenda.


The Paris Agreement, signed by 197 countries in 2015, offers us a clear game plan to confront the serious threats to our planet. It sets viable targets to impede rising temperatures, constrict greenhouse gas emissions, and spur climate-resilient development and green growth.


To faithfully implement the Paris Agreement and push it further, countries need to expand their ambitions and urgency to cut emissions. And we must secure increased climate financing from upper income nations and through the catalyzing power of cooperation and partnerships.


This is particularly critical in the lead up tothis year’sConference of the Parties 26 (COP 26) in Glasgow, where the climate “rule book” will be finalized.


In this regard, I commend China and other nations for their commitments to reach net-zero emissions. Now, global leaders must go further by expanding climate funding for developing nations and scaling-up financing for climate adaptation to ensure that COP 26 is agreatsuccess.      


Not only is the fate of the health, security, and well-being of our planet and humanity at stake, but the dawn of a new international order is also in our hands. This is one that is anchored in multilateral cooperation, security, partnership, sustainability, and prosperity.     


As we gather here today to reassess the international order, it is clear that we can’t return to the way things were prior to the pandemic. Indeed, we must build back better, and greener, by constructing healthier societies for all peoples and our planet.


At the same time, our multilateral recovery from this pandemic and its secondary impacts must also address climate change and inequality to steer us to a more sustainable, inclusive, and resilient future. This is especially important in this era of growing uncertainty, great powerrivalry, and rapid change.

In this connection, I humblyreiterate mycall on all nations and stakeholders to redouble their efforts in elevating cooperation and partnership in pursuit of vaccinating the world, achieving the UN SDGs, and taking climate action.    


The strong cooperation and leadership of China and the US were integral to realization of the Paris Agreement and securing those 197 signatures in 2015. And Idohope that the spirit of this paradigm-shifting example of Sino-American cooperation can also be replicated to address other significant global health, climate, and security challenges today.


In our increasingly interconnected world, global challenges can only be solved by globalresponses. We should recall President Xi’s words when he said that, “we live in a shared world and face a shared destiny.”


DistinguishedWorld Peace Forum 2021 participants,With your active efforts, I am confident that our world will continue to flourish and be secure, sustainable, harmonious, and prosperous for the next generations and beyond. 


Let’s use the UN Global Goals as a guidepost and come together in multilateral cooperation to illuminate a brighter post-pandemic international order for all.

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