by Mikhail Shklyarevsky
UNA-SNY Young Professionals Social and Humanitarian Affairs Committee (YP-SHAC)
On December 31, 2016, Ban Ki-moon was succeeded by Antonio Guterres as the next Secretary-General of the United Nations. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon leaves Guterres an organization that has seen great progress during his tenure in the areas of women's rights and climate change. He has created women's rights initiatives, such as the Agenda for Humanity, that make United Nations member states responsible for the empowerment and safety of women and girls. In addition, Ban Ki-moon appointed Major General Kristin Lund of Norway as the first female Force Commander of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus. He also created the Climate Neutral Now initiative, in partnership with multinational corporations, like Sony, and convinced Edward Norton, the United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for Biodiversity, to encourage people worldwide to mitigate the impact of climate change. This article will commemorate Secretary-General Ban's achievements on gender equality and climate change, as well as explain their importance in regard to the United Nations.
During his ten years as Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon successfully implemented changes in areas where his predecessors have experienced failure. As a feminist and an advocate for women's rights, he was able to convince the business and political leaders of developing nations of the need and importance of improving accessibility to education for women and girls. While many developing nations still need to make enormous progress in this area, Ban Ki-moon was fortunate to witness the results of some of his efforts. For example, women in various countries have gradually begun to achieve more senior corporate and government positions. According to the U.N. Women 2014-2015 Evaluation Report, 67 percent of the United Nations development work for women was effective regarding gender equality and policy outcomes.
Malala Yousafzai, a 17 year-old girl from Pakistan, contributed to the progress of his efforts as well, becoming a global icon for the Millennial generation and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her similar efforts regarding girls' education. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's work on behalf of women and girls worldwide is important because numerous studies, such as Voice and Agency: Empowering Women and Girls for Shared Prosperity, a May 14, 2014 World Bank report by Dr. Jim Yong Kim, Hillary Clinton, and Dr. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, have shown that countries in which they have rights, such as access to education, tend to experience more prosperity. According to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, "The Women's Empowerment Principles provide a roadmap for businesses to play their role in respecting and supporting women's rights." As a result, he has provided females with opportunities to make contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations in the area of gender equality.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was also able to make progress with the Sustainable Development Goal of climate action by convincing the business and political leaders of many nations of the dangers posed by climate change. He convinced them that climate change would lead to weather-related disasters, harming long-term business prospects. Consequently, investments in preparations for climate change would help them to offset the negative aspects of these issues and save their businesses long-term money. As a result of his diplomatic efforts, many countries and companies have begun initiatives to impose environment-friendly policies and make donations to environmental causes. In the process, many people have also changed their attitudes towards the environment and are acting more socially conscious regarding it. For example, on September 21, 2014, about 311,000 people participated in the Climate March in New York City as a response to the United Nations Climate Summit taking place on September 23. The Climate March was endorsed by more than 1,500 organizations and comprised of events, symposia, and presentations.
Perhaps, though, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon';s diplomatic efforts had their most significant impact when the political leaders of 174 nations and the European Union enacted the historic Paris Agreement, legally addressing climate change and providing future generations an opportunity to overcome it. The Paris Agreement currently has 194 signatures and 125 ratifications. Ban Ki-moon made it possible for these nations to make contributions to the development goals of the United Nations with this agreement by preventing future environmental and economic disasters for their youth. As a result, the agreement was also the first time in history that so many countries had signed such an important treaty, showing Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's talents as a diplomat.
Although, much like his predecessors, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was not able to resolve many other international conflicts, his achievements are notable in their own right and, it is my hope that they will preserve his legacy at the United Nations for future generations.