United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

Ban calls for a Green Economy to ensure sustainable development


UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for 'revolutionary action' to achieve sustainable development, warning that the past century's heedless consumption of resources is 'a global suicide pact' with time running out to ensure an economic model for survival.

'Let me highlight the one resource that is scarcest of all: Time,' he told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in a session devoted to redefining sustainable development. 'We are running out of time. Time to tackle climate change. Time to ensure sustainable, climate-resilient green growth. Time to generate a clean energy revolution.'

Calling sustainable development the growth agenda for the 21st century, Mr. Ban recited a litany of development errors based on a false belief in the infinite abundance of natural resources that fuelled the economy in the last century.

'We mined our way to growth,' he said. 'We burned our way to prosperity. We believed in consumption without consequences. Those days are gone. In the 21st century, supplies are running short and the global thermostat is running high.

All this now needs rethinking to secure the balanced development that will lift people out of poverty while protecting the planet and ecosystems that support economic growth, he told the assembly of heads of State and government, international economists, business and industry leaders and civil society.

'Here at Davos - this meeting of the mighty and the powerful, represented by some key countries - it may sound strange to speak of revolution,' he said. 'But that is what we need at this time. We need a revolution. Revolutionary thinking. Revolutionary action. A free market revolution for global sustainability.

'It is easy to mouth the words 'sustainable development,' but to make it happen we have to be prepared to make major changes - in our lifestyles, our economic models, our social organization, and our political life. We have to connect the dots between climate change and what I might call here, WEF - water, energy and food.' WEF is also the acronym for the Davos World Economic Forum.

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