By Binsal Abdulkader
JEJU ISLAND, South Korea, 15th September, 2022 (WAM) — As energy prices are soaring across the world, especially in Europe, “I am concerned about the possibility of some countries returning to fossil fuels,” said Ban Ki-moon, a former Secretary-General of the United Nations.
“This is again very foolish and very worrisome. I know that we have to have energy we have to have something to eat but if we go back to fossil fuels again, we are repeating the same mistakes that we have been making,” he said on Thursday in his keynote address at the opening ceremony of Jeju Forum for Peace and Prosperity being held on Jeju Island in South Korea.
Ban was referring to the environmental impact of carbon emissions caused by fossil fuels. The former UN chief pointed out that high energy prices have left Europe vulnerable as it tries to replenish its energy storage ahead of the coming winter.
“The European Union has already called upon member states to voluntarily reduce their gas consumption by 15 percent in the fall and winter but even that might not be enough,” noted the South Korean diplomat who was the eighth Secretary-General of the United Nations from January 2007 to December 2016. Before becoming Secretary-General, Ban was a career diplomat in South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in the United Nations.
He also expressed his concerns about increasing food prices, which may cause hunger and famine in some parts of the world. Global health security is also pressing issue, Ban noted.
He suggested that world must make effective efforts to bolster global health security to tackle the existing threats and prepare for new ones in the wake of the pandemic like COVID-19. Other viruses of increased concerns such as monkeypox have brought into focus the health and security implications of biodiversity loss, the former UN chief pointed out.
“Biodiversity and habitats of wild animals are seriously disturbed due to environmental destruction. We do not have even a plan B [to deal with such crises],” he explained.
However, he put forward an optimistic note on future. “Despite this new era of multiple crises, we must remain optimistic and future-oriented.”
Ban suggested to adopt a more robust and inclusive multilateralism to engage with all international players. Multi-stakeholder collaboration is essential to solve climate crisis, he pointed out.
“I am confident that we can harness this time of turbulence as a gateway towards a more peaceful, sustainable and prosperous world. Let us work together to make this world better for our succeeding generation. This is the main purpose of this Jeju Forum 2022, and this is our moral and political responsibility,” the former UN chief concluded.
Jeju Forum was launched in 2001 as a platform for dialogue to share visions for peace in the Korean Peninsula, East Asia, and the world and seek creative solutions through international cooperation.
Hosted by Jeju Special Self-Governing Province, International Peace Foundation, and the East Asia Foundation, and sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea and the Jeju Free International City Development Centre, Jeju Forum has served as an international public forum for the past two decades.
The organisers have invited a select group of journalists from prominent foreign media outlets, including Emirates News Agency (WAM), to cover the three-day Forum and ongoing World Heritage Festival on Jeju Island, a major tourist destination in South Korea.