Restoring Hope

UNITED NATIONS HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES - 2016/01/27: Christiana Figueres briefs the press. In conjunction w
UNITED NATIONS HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES - 2016/01/27: Christiana Figueres briefs the press. In conjunction with the opening of the 2016 Investors Summit on Climate Change, a panel of experts, including Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, held a press conference at United Nations Headquarters in New York City. (Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The United Nations was founded 70 years ago in the turmoil and trauma of World War II with the firm conviction that a better future was possible, and it was ours to create.

Much has been achieved in the intervening years that has certainly kept the world on a safer trajectory, but today, only 16 years into the new millennium, we seem beset on all sides by impossible problems. Terrorism, inequality, environmental degradation, financial crises, wars, forced migration. There is a growing sense that our problems have changed and become more complex but also that they have become too large for us to solve. As a result, we have become used to not really addressing the fundamental issues but lurching from one crisis to the next, just getting by.

People have lost trust that their lives can get better and that institutions are on their side. This in turn is leading to apathy, depression, despair and in some cases to the development of radical views.

This cycle must be stopped, before it consumes our collective future.

The truth is that the problems of today can only be addressed through working together, using multilateral dialogue to find common ground and take collective action. The last years have seen a discrediting of multilateralism as agreements on issues such as trade and the refugee crisis have proved elusive. These failures themselves further feed the narrative that our problems have grown beyond our control.

It does not have to be this way.

I joined the UN Climate Secretariat after the disaster of the Copenhagen negotiations in 2009 and left in 2016 on the back of the most ambitious climate agreement in history. The Paris Agreement was not an accident -- it was strategy and attitude. It was the culmination of six years of patient rebuilding of a broken system that had lost all trust and confidence, into one that was capable of entering an upward spiraling of commitment and ambition. It was the result of a shared commitment that arose from the collective realization that we would all be losers if we did not find a way to win together. It was the harvest of years of careful listening that enabled the elusive common ground to emerge.

Paris can be an anomaly or it can become the norm for multilateralism in the 21st century. We must ensure it is the latter, so that we can rebuild the world's confidence in the ability of the UN and its Member States to work together and solve the most difficult problems of our times.

As our world becomes more interdependent and more complex, the necessity to make genuine progress through dialogue, commitment and investment is further increased. This is because the interconnections are such that failure to address critical areas of concern means that they will quickly spread and become destabilizing.

Without stronger mechanisms for managing critical cross-border issues, including resource management, refugees, and migration, we will not build the shared security needed to support everyday practical cooperation. Without adequate restrictions on the proliferation and use of weapons, we will continue to see growing displacement and inequalities generated by conflict and violence. Without climate stability there will be no food or water security, reducing our ability to remain in our communities, towns and countries. Without securing women's rights to education, land ownership, and political participation, we will not see a rise in equitable economic development. Without building more resilience to natural disasters, we will not create the economic or political space to plan for long-term development. Without respect for human rights, citizen participation, and reduced corruption, we cannot build the conditions for a sustained peace.

The interconnectedness of these issues further underlines the essential role that the UN must play. Indeed, only the UN can provide the forum through which Member States can coordinate effectively to address the intricate and interconnected issues that affect our world. If this is not achieved, then we face a risk that the unstable parts of the world will continue to destabilize other parts. This is unacceptable.

We must embrace the tough challenges and refuse to believe that real solutions are beyond our ability to find. It is our best chance to improve the lives of people everywhere.

We need a UN that reclaims its standing as a beacon of hope; a reason for global optimism that calls us toward a compelling vision of the future, rekindling our confidence and inspiring each and every one of us to live up to our highest purpose. Impossible is not a fact, it is an attitude. That is my conviction and my experience. It is also my invitation; together we can restore hope.

It is for the opportunity to pursue this vision that I have accepted the nomination of Costa Rica for the position of UN Secretary-General.

This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post regarding the selection and appointment of the next Secretary-General of the United Nations. A new Secretary-General will take office on January 1, 2017, and each of the declared candidates for the position was invited to participate in this blog series. The President of the General Assembly noted that, this year, the selection process will have more transparency than ever before. The declared candidates for the position are listed by the UN here. To see all the posts in the series, visit here.

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