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‘Turn promises into action for this generation’

By Sarah Mac Donald - 24 May, 2016

At World Humanitarian Summit, President Higgins appeals to global community to act decisively on poverty, hunger, conflict, displacement and climate change.

President Michael D Higgins

President Michael D Higgins appealed to the international community on Monday to act decisively on the issues of global poverty and hunger, conflict, displacement and climate change.

In his statement at the Istanbul Congress Centre in Turkey for World Humanitarian Summit, the President said it was no longer a time for a re-statement of aspirations.

Rather, he argued, it was time for a rethink of the international community’s practice of economics, development and trade and to turn promises into action for this generation.

“For too long, empty pledges and fine words have died in our mouths – now is the time to turn promises into action for this generation,” he told up to 6,000 delegates attending the summit.

He suggested a new paradigm of thought and action, grounded in a reconciliation between ethics, economics, ecology and cultural diversity was needed.

“As heads of State or Government, we must be aware of all those women, men and children who yearn for, even weep for, a United Nations that would be supported, resourced and enabled, beyond any competing set of narrow interests, to act decisively against the interrelated issues of global poverty and hunger, conflict, displacement and climate change,” he said.

“So, let us honour those who have worked so hard to prevent, reduce and respond to conflicts, who have helped pick up the pieces in a broken world, but let us not shrink from the reality of the deep political and intellectual failures, with which we must deal, from which we must depart.”

He warned that this was “our opportunity to restore hope, to demonstrate the relevance of our multilateral system, our capacity and our courage. This is for us a moment of truth, a moral test.”

President Higgins appealed to world leaders, “Let us then not seek evasions. Let us strive to realise the great promise of security, prosperity and human flourishing that can flow from a comprehensive and positive shared global solution to the great challenges and the great opportunities of our times.”

The World Humanitarian Summit is the first global meeting on humanitarian affairs in almost 25 years.

Up to 6,000 participants are taking part including 40 heads of state or government, along with CEOs from the private sector, heads of multilateral organisations, international and national NGOs, youth representatives, civil society, diaspora, civil-military, and academia.

The Summit is an initiative of the UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon. It has been called to seek bold solutions to address mounting humanitarian needs and follows over two years of global consultations.

The World Humanitarian Summit is the next in a series of processes and events which together aim to eradicate poverty, protect the planet and its people from the effects of climate change (the Paris Agreement), manage and reduce risks (the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk reduction), and mobilise resources for their achievement (the Addis Ababa Conference on Financing for Development).

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