Former United States Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has spoken of the numerous disasters the world is currently facing, only compounded by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Ban, who headed the United States from 2007 to 2016, urged world leaders to increase their ambitions to avoid failure on a number of different issues, including climate change and water scarcity.
“There are still 2 billion people who lack clean drinking water, more than 1.5 billion people who have no electricity, and there are more than 60 million school children who do not go to school, including elementary school … That is sad, it’s really heartbreaking, “Ban told CNBC’s Sustainable Future in March, talking about World Water Day.
“We are on the brink of all these crises … I hope that global leaders should have far-reaching global visions, that we are together in this world, that we are all together in this world, otherwise we will all be a failure.” That is why I urge political leaders to do their best and lead by example, “he added.
Ban said the next 10 years would be critical for global leaders to work on the United States’ sustainable development goals. These are 17 goals set by the New York-based organization that call for economic, social and environmental sustainability measures by 2030.
Pushing it in, he said the ongoing Covid-19 crisis had further highlighted the effects of a global water shortage.
“The pandemic has of course brought this issue to the fore, also showing that water is a link between the myriad impacts of our crises, whether related to infectious diseases or food security. In the past year we have all seen them,” he said .
“With trillions of dollars being spent fighting the coronavirus, I think we need to see a bigger picture and invest wisely in water that really helps our lives. That is one of the most important pressing issues of (the) Sustainable Development Goals now,” he added.
Ban spoke alongside the CEO of the Global Center for Adaptation, Patrick Verkooijen. Ban is also chairman of GCA, which describes itself as a “solution broker to accelerate, innovate and scale adaptation measures for a climate resilient world”.
Verkooijen told CNBC the pandemic was a “wake up call”. “We are completely unprepared for the next crisis, the climate emergency … 90% of all natural disasters are water-related, more floods, more droughts, more storms, more fires. In the last two decades these climate disasters have doubled. Half a million people came killed and over 2 trillion in economic losses, “he said.
“In 2017, three storms cost the US economy $ 265 billion. Last year in 2020 one storm cost over $ 55 billion in economic losses. I think John Kerry (US special envoy on climate) did very well said, we have now passed the point that investing in prevention is much more effective than cleaning up afterwards, so investing in water and climate adaptation is the way to go, “he added.
Ban, who led the effort to sign the Paris Agreement on Climate Change in 2015, said action to resolve all of these issues needs to be accelerated.
“We really need to speed up and raise the level of ambition among political leaders … People know that climate change is very important, very serious and urgently needs action,” said CNBC.
“At the same time, however, we must address all food shortages and gender empowerment, water scarcity, quality education and resilient cities.”
Former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
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