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A. Tong: Address to World Summit 2020

Address to World Summit 2020, Seoul, Korea, February 3-8, 2020


Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, founders of UPF; Dr. Thomas Walsh, chair of UPF International; senior executives of UPF; excellencies and colleagues; and our hosts here from Korea—Kam Na Mauri [Hello]!

Ladies and gentlemen, we are gathered here today once again to deliberate on the ever-elusive objective of peacebuilding. But this year is special, because we also celebrate the centenary of the lives of the founders of this movement of peacebuilding—the Universal Peace Federation. A movement which, over time, has gathered such momentum as to reach the far corners of the world, as clearly evident in the worldwide representation here today. A movement which is based on the core values defined by the founders, in short: ‘’Live for the sake of others.’’ The principle that our lives should never be just about us alone (that is selfish) but should be about us as a family, about us as a nation, about us as a people, citizens of this planet. It should be about all that God has created—the universe, nature, the oceans and all that is in it—because God, when He created all of this, found it to be good as we also did when we came along.

But in the relatively short period of time during which we as a species have occupied this planet, we have done untold damage to all in it. As we move from continent to continent, from ocean to ocean, our mantra has been that of destruction, destruction and destruction.

Over the centuries we have been killing each other in the name of God, and we continue to do so today. The last major wars and the sporadic regional skirmishes that continue in certain parts of the world are conflicts either over ideological differences, simply a grab or hanging on to power, or in the name of peace. The relentless and insatiable pursuit of wealth in the name of development and progress (but which is in reality wealth accumulation by the few) has taken us to where we are today—at the tipping point of this planet’s tolerance and on the brink of extinction.

Ladies and gentlemen, today we as a global community face many challenges, the likes of which this world has never seen or heard of before. The major military and emerging new military powers are now re-engaged in a new and perilous race for military superiority with the development of new weapons systems which have more than enough capacity to destroy the world many times over, hypersonic missiles, stealth technology that ensures the destruction of the enemy and all else around it in the process.

As a region, we in the Pacific have witnessed and remain innocent victims of this arms race scenario in the not too distant past. In the 1950s the British tested their atomic bombs on Christmas Island in Kiribati; in the 1960s the USA tested its nuclear bombs on the islands of the Marshall Islands; and in the 1970s the French tested their nuclear bombs in Polynesia. To this day we continue to pay the price for those experiments in serious health issues and radioactive contamination. All in the pursuit of military superiority – power. Peace!

As we gather here today, Canberra, the capital of Australia, is being threatened by wildfires. In fact, Australia has been burning since the beginning of summer late last year and continues to burn today. Lives have been lost, thousands of homes have been destroyed, and hundreds of thousands of hectares of bush- and forest-covered land have been burned. Unprecedented heat waves and droughts have resulted in the serious problems facing the farming community and loss of food production. This is unprecedented. And, of course, the burning question is whether the whole disaster is associated with climate change? The scientific community are unequivocal in saying that it is and that they, in fact, had predicted such an outcome, if we as a global community do not reduce our greenhouse gas emissions as a matter of urgency. Against this background of unprecedented disaster at its very doorsteps, the current government of Australia continues to pursue its agenda of opening up what potentially could be the biggest coal mine in the world. This amid allegations of the very close relationships between the mining industry and the government in power. All of this in the name of economic growth and the benefit of the people!

As a region, our people in the Pacific represent one of the most vulnerable communities to the threats posed by climate change. Our very survival as viable nations in the future is seriously being threatened. I therefore have been involved in advocating on climate change for several years. And I must admit that this has been something of an obsession with me during my time in office for thirteen years and since my retirement in 2016. Yes, often I do ask myself, and sometimes my wife, if I am being paranoid in my reaction over the whole issue. I have been criticized over my advocacy from those, including governments and corporations, who perceive their interests to be threatened by my ongoing advocacy on climate change, and interestingly also by my own government.

But for me, the science has always been very clear, and as more research results come in from institutions, in addition to the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), earlier projections are now regarded to have been conservative. Events on the ground—such as greater intensity of the storms in the USA, Africa and in the South Pacific, the floods in Europe, the bush fires in California in 2018, in Siberia and the Amazon in 2019, and now in Australia—were projected to happen but not as early as they have occurred. The melting of the polar regions and the Himalayas and the absence of snow in areas used to having it may have serious implications for the availability of water in the spring.

But amazingly, against this list of severe adverse impacts and the body of science forthcoming virtually every day, we are seeing a doubling down by the powerful energy corporations, with support from the political leadership they control, to continue with business as usual and with their dogma that “greed is great.” It seriously calls into question the continuing relevance of democracy as still an effective system of governance by the people for the people.

Ladies and gentlemen, all of the foregoing was simply to highlight where we are today in our search for peace. And we must admit that the picture is grim, but we must not be discouraged. If anything, it should provide us with the incentive to work harder and perhaps in a more directed manner.

I believe that at the heart of these challenges is our loss of direction in our sense of values. When the leader of a nation will stand up and say that the growth of his nation’s economy is more important than the survival of people in countries vulnerable to climate change impacts and the future of humanity; when the leader of a nation believes that he/she needs to commit genocide to eliminate another ethnic group for the benefit of her people; when the leader of a nation ignores the cries and agonies of his citizens in order to satisfy the demands of those who put him in power; when the leader of a nation believes he must suppress his people as a dictator for their own good; when leaders believe that they need to go to war to defend their egos and power base; when we in our different roles of leadership believe we must do things for our benefit alone—all of these are a clear indication that something is terribly wrong with our value priorities and in direct contradiction to the core values of the founders of the Universal Peace Federation whose centenary we celebrate today. The very same core values were engraved in the heart of each and every one of us here today at conception in our mothers’ wombs.

So ladies and gentlemen, let us all go forth and tell this to the world!

Thank you.



To go to the World Summit 2020 Schedule page, click here.