Ban Ki-moonToday, we start the 100-day countdown to the observance of the International Day of Peace, when we call on combatants around the world to put down their weapons and try to find peaceful solutions to their conflicts.

The International Day of Peace, marked every year on 21 September, gives us all a chance to reflect on the unconscionable toll – moral, physical, material – wrought by war.  Those costs are borne not only by us today, but by future generations as well.

That is why this year’s theme is “Sustainable Peace for a Sustainable Future.” It highlights the fact that we cannot possibly think about building a sustainable future if there is no sustainable peace.  Armed conflicts attack the very pillars of sustainable development, robbing people of the opportunity to develop, to create jobs, to safeguard the environment, to fight poverty, to reduce the risk from disasters, to advance social equity and to ensure that everyone has enough to eat.

One week from today, as the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development opens in Rio de Janeiro, the world will have an opportunity to fight back.  With tens of thousands of politicians, policy-makers, social activists, business leaders and others mobilized for action, Rio+20 can help us to create a global roadmap for a sustainable future, the future we want.

We want a future where natural resources are protected and valued rather than used to finance wars, where children can be educated at school and not recruited into armies, where economic and social inequalities are resolved through dialogue instead of violence.

If we are to build such a future, we must all play our individual part.  I urge everyone, between now and 21 September, to think about how they can contribute.  Let us work together to ensure that the Road from Rio leads us to sustainable development, sustainable peace… and a secure future for all.