NEW YORK, 15th January 2016 (WAM) — Sharing his thoughts on the direction of the United Nations’ work in 2016, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today said the global community begins the year needing to get its “priorities right,” while underlining that more and better work needs to be done.

“This is a moment heavy with responsibility,” Mr. Ban told delegates during an annual informal briefing to the General Assembly. “Year one of the new 15-year agenda, and year 10 of my 10-year mandate. One year may seem very short in UN time. But I believe we can make it dynamic and productive.”

The UN chief began by declaring that 2016 must be a year in which landmark decisions on sustainable development “gain solid footing on the ground.”

“If 2015 was a year of global sustainable development action, 2016 must be a year of national SDG traction,” he stated, after congratulating Member States for adopting the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a set of 17 goals and 169 targets to wipe out poverty, fight inequality and tackle climate change over the next 15 years.

Underlining that gender equality is at its heart, the UN chief said progress has been “too slow and uneven.”

“I have seen too many parliaments, ministries, cabinets, board rooms and peace processes with few or no women at the table,” he regretted. “Sadly, that has sometimes been the case within this Organization. I have worked determinedly to change this – with some inroads but much distance still to travel,” he said.

Recalling that climate action is good for people and the planet, beneficial for the economy, and essential for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Mr. Ban called the Paris Agreement a turning point.

Turning to peace and security matters, the Secretary-General said the global community must end the conflicts that global divisions have helped prolong, and do far more to protect vulnerable populations.

“Today, the price of neglecting prevention is plain to see: widening sectarian tensions, shrinking democratic space in many places, and an arc of crisis stretching from the Sahel to the wider Middle East,” he stressed, noting that across the world more than 125 million people need humanitarian assistance.