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UN chief pushes trust, green themes with lawmakers

By John Heilprin
Associated Press / October 16, 2011

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BERN, Switzerland—Lawmakers in Europe and elsewhere must do more than put their debt-wracked houses in order -- they must reassure citizens who fear diminished future prospects, and that means restoring people's trust in government, the U.N. secretary-general said Sunday night.

Ban Ki-moon's comments came during the opening session of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, which features representatives of parliaments from 157 nations. The global financial crisis was a major theme.

"It is a deficit of trust," Ban told the group's 125th assembly, held in the Swiss capital and attended by Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey. "People are losing trust in governments and institutions to do the right things."

Ban added that "the time for haggling over incremental steps is over" within the Group of 20 rich and developing nations, which he said now "must shoulder their full share of responsibility" -- for the crisis.

Echoing that sentiment was IPU President Theo-Ben Gurirab of Namibia, who said "everywhere we look we see people suffering from a crisis and mismanagement which is not of their making."

Ban's speech to the parliamentarians in Bern, which also hosted IPU assemblies in 1892, 1924 and 1952, emphasized the role of youth and women and his No. 1 priority of sustainable development.

He called for the world's major economic powers to join a binding climate treaty and to cut in half planetary emissions of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere by 2050.

"All of them must re-dedicate themselves," he said of lagging momentum for a global deal to cut the fossil fuel-burning that scientists say is causing temperatures to rise.

South Africa plays host in December to climate change talks. Similar talks in Mexico last year ended with a sense that some incremental progress might be made, after a disappointing round in Copenhagen in 2009.

"We must make sure our solutions are real solutions," Ban said.

Ban, who met in Bern earlier with young people seeking change in Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen, urged governments to elect more women and to listen more closely to young people.

"It is no exaggeration to say they have changed the world today," the U.N. chief said of the youth.

"We used to say that we are the leaders of today and they are the leaders of tomorrow. But now it has changed. They have become the leaders of today, already," he added. "Let us listen to them." top stories on Twitter

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