Monday, 18 January 2021

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'We don't have a planet B' says Deputy-Secretary-General Jan Eliasson to a group of European editors in Brussels

dsg-arbourUN Deputy-Secretary General Jan Eliasson yesterday finished a two day visit to Brussels with a Round-table conversation with leading European editorialists and senior journalists. Ms Louise Arbour, the President of the International Crisis Group moderated the Round-table with editors from France, Germany, UK, Denmark and Belgium.

In a wide ranging discussion hosted by the Brussels based, UNRIC, the UN Regional Information Centre  the Deputy-Secretary General debated such such crucial issues as Syria, Mali, DRC and UN Peacekeeping but also the need for multilateral solutions to  global challenges such as climate change, development, peacekeeping and migrations.

Syria was high on the agenda and Mr. Eliasson explained in detail the peace efforts of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the joint UN-African Union Envoys Kofi Annan and Lakthar Brahimi. He reitireated that “a negotiated transition” in Syria was key to the solution of the conflict.

Mr. Eliasson acknowledeged that the United Nations alone could not provide the solutions to all global problems. Referring to the many challenges that all countries are facing from climate change to global economic reconstruction to migrations he said that “it is obvious that we need multilateral solutions,” but although the framweork was multilateral the implementations had to be "national."

The Deputy-Secretary General explained that although the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were to expire in 2015, many problems remained despite the success of the anti-poverty programme.

“There are more people living in poverty on less than 1.25$ a day in middle income countries than in poor countries.”

He pointed out that in the field of water and sanitation huge challenges still face large parts of the world.

He also took up the cause of education, which he said was the cornerstone of stable and prosperous countries. Taking his home country, Sweden, as an example, he said that strong institutions, infrastructure and education for all, were the blueprint for the success of the country, which was one of the poorest countries of Europe a century ago.

A former Foreign Minister and career diplomat from Sweden, Mr Eliasson was appointed Deputy-Secretary General in 2012, but had earlier served the United Nations in many capacities, such as President of the General Assembly and Special Envoy to Darfur.

Among the editors participating in the Round-table were representatives of Le Monde, Libération and AFP (France), the Guardian and Financial Times (UK), Die Zeit and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Germany), Politiken (Denmark), Le Soir (Belgium) as well as the European Voice.

Earlier in his two day visit the Deputy-Secretary General met European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, High Representative of the European Union Baroness Catherine Ashton EU Commissioners for Environment and Development as well as Development Ministers of the EU member states. Among issues on the agenda were Post-2015 development agenda and other crucial issues.  Mr Eliasson also participated in the “Third High Level Meeting of the Inter-Regional Dialogue on Democracy” co-organized by José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission.

3 Questions to Jan ELIASSON

Prepared by UNRIC in partnership with the European Parliament

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