Table of Contents
This chapter is an extract from the inaugural speech given by Kofi Annan, the then Secretary General of the UNESCO. He begins by saying that we are living in era of Globalization which has changed everything. The whole world is now interconnected where we can interact more directly. It has dangers also like crime, narcotics, terrorism, disease, weapons. All these have increased in great numbers than in past. But the benefits of Globalization are clear also that is, faster growth, higher living standards, and new opportunities, not only for individuals but nation also. At present these opportunities are not equally distributed.
Globalization’s gains and losses
In the inaugural speech delivered by Kofi Annan, the then Secretary General of UNESCO, at the 55th session of the General Assembly in 2000. In his speech, Kofi Annan says that the world has become interconnected as it never before was. Groups and individuals can interact almost freely across borders. The entire world can be treated as the field of an activity. We can call it ‘globalization’.
Globalization is a new trend. It has its dangers as well as benefits. There can be an increase in crime, terrorism and smuggling of weapons and narcotics. But globalization has a number of benefits also. It can lead to a better understanding between nations. It can help us to tackle global issues more effectively. It can lead to new opportunities, faster growth and higher standard of living. Thus, globalization can help to fight the problem of poverty in the world. Then Kofi Annan groups global issues under three headings that is, freedom from poverty, freedom from fear of wars, freedom for the future generations to survive on this planet.
Freedom from poverty
First of all, Kofi Annan talks about freedom from poverty. He says that at present, half of the human race is living in poverty. Over a billion people don’t get even two meals a day. They don’t get safe drinking water. They have to live in very dirty conditions. Kofi Annan wants the world to have freedom from poverty. Then he talks of freedom from fear of wars. Man has always been in the fear of wars. Previously, there were wars between states. But now there are internal wars. Different groups in a country fight among themselves.
Such wars result from unfair distribution of power and wealth. Most of the internal wars are fought in poor countries or in countries that are badly governed. In the last decade, more than five million lives were lost in internal wars. Many times, that number were made homeless. We need freedom from this fear also.
Destruction of natural resources
Then he talks about the pollution and destruction of natural resources. Due to overconsumption, our forests, fisheries and various species of wildlife are being destroyed. An old wisdom says that the earth is not ours. It is a treasure we hold in trust for our descendants.
Therefore, we have no right to destroy our children’s heritage. We must preserve it with all care. But we are doing quite the opposite of it. We are plundering this treasure thoughtlessly. In the end of his speech, Kofi Annan says that the United Nations has a significant role to play to solve these problems. The utility of the United Nations will be judged on how these problems are handled. The United Nations was founded in the name of common people. Therefore, it must listen to what the people are saying, “Our past achievements are not enough. We must do more, and do it better.”
The Earth is not someone’s to keep. It was handed over to us by our ancestors and we have to keep it safe for future generations. The lesson explains that we should not exploit the resources of the Earth and protect it, for it is our responsibility to hand to future generations in a good condition. The title is kind of a warning which tells its readers to take note of the fact that the Earth does not belong to a single person. It is to be shared wisely and saved for the future.