I’ll write this as quickly as I can before I get shot at point blank range for the corny title. Just came back from hearing United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon speak at a World Affairs Council sponsored event. The Secretary General spoke on what he asserts are four critical issues for our little spinning globe: 1) climate change; 2) nuclear weapons; 3) extreme poverty; and 4) security, peace and human rights issues.
As interesting as what Secretary General Ban said is, just as interesting for my beat is that he was here in the Greater Seattle area. It was the first time a sitting UN Secretary General has spoken in our region but he is also one of numerous international dignitaries that come through our region each year, including heads of state. We’re a mid-sized town in America but one with an outsized international profile. Yes, a third of our jobs are tied to international trade in way or another but also the industries we are engaged in are global ones. Plus, we have a huge global development sector here. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is headquartered in Greater Seattle but there are also 350 other global development organizations in our region, both big and small. They employ thousands of people and are active on every continent save Antarctica (and for all I know there’s someone from our region doing work there too). In other words, there’s a reason the U.N. Secretary General came to our region to talk about weighty global issues.