NewsThe continent of hope

The continent of hope

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Too often, the world looks at Africa through the prism of problems. When I look at Africa, I see a continent of hope, promise and enormous possibilities.

Too often, the world looks at Africa through the prism of problems. When I look at Africa, I see a continent of hope, promise and enormous possibilities.

        I am committed to seizing those advantages and establishing a higher platform of cooperation between the United Nations and the leaders and peoples of Africa. This is essential to promote inclusive and sustainable development and deepen cooperation for peace and security.

        That was the message I delivered to the recent African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in what was my first major mission as Secretary-General of the United Nations.

        Above all, I came to the Summit in a spirit of respect and profound solidarity. I am convinced that the world can greatly benefit from African wisdom, ideas and solutions.

        I also went to express a deep feeling of gratitude. Africa provides the bulk of United Nations peacekeepers worldwide. African nations are among the countries that most generously host the largest number of refugees. Africa is home to some of the fastest growing economies in the world.

        The resolution of the recent political crisis in The Gambia once again demonstrated that African leaders and African unity can overcome governance challenges and uphold democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

        I left the Summit more convinced than ever that all humanity will benefit by listening to, learning from, and working with the people of Africa.

        We already have plans to build a better future. The international community has entered the second year of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, an all-out effort to tackle global poverty, inequality, instability and injustice. Africa has adopted its own complementary and ambitious plan: Agenda 2063. In order for the people of Africa to fully benefit from these important initiatives, the two agendas need to be strategically harmonized.

        It all starts with prevention. Our world has to move from managing crises to preventing them. We have to break the cycle of responses that are too late and ineffective. Most of today’s conflicts are internal in nature, erupting as a result of competition for power and resources, inequality, marginalization and sectarian divisions. Conflicts are often exacerbated by or contribute to fueling violent extremism.

        The United Nations is determined to work closely with partners wherever conflict, or the threat of conflict, threatens stability and well-being. But prevention does not only mean paying attention to conflicts. The best means of prevention and the surest way to achieve lasting peace is inclusive and sustainable development. We can accelerate progress if we do more to offer young people opportunity and hope. More than three out of five Africans are under 35 years of age. To make the most of this formidable asset, more must be invested in education, training and decent work, and young people must be engaged in shaping their own futures.

        We must also do everything possible to empower women so that they can play their full role in sustainable development and peace. I am pleased that the African Union pays systematic attention to gender equality and the empowerment of women.

        As has been proven time and time again, when we empower women, we empower the world.

        I traveled to Africa as a partner, friend and advocate determined to change the way this diverse and vital continent is perceived. Crises offer, at best, a partial view. However, from a higher platform of cooperation, we can see the whole picture – a clear vision of the enormous potential and remarkable successes of the African continent.

        I have no doubt that with that perspective we will be able to win the battle for sustainable and inclusive development, which also offers the best weapons to prevent conflict and suffering, and we will make Africa shine even brighter and inspire the world.

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