It gives me great pleasure to greet the Heads of State and Government and other leaders gathered in Kinshasa for the Summit of the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa. I thank the government and people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo for hosting this important meeting.
You come together at a time of opportunity and risk for the human family. We are the first generation that can end extreme poverty -- yet people and the planet face the rising pressures of a warming climate, growing inequality and exploitation from mines to fields to factory floor.
Many African countries have made important advances towards the Millennium Development Goals, especially on education and maternal and child health. As the rest of the world struggles to recover from the economic crisis, Africa's growth rate is more than five per cent. Africa is becoming the world's next emerging market, and this dynamism will be especially important in translating growth into more jobs, greater equality, the empowerment of women and young people and progress on the many MDG targets that remain lagging.
As we look ahead, our sights must be set firmly on the key year of 2015, which is simultaneously the deadline for achieving the MDGs, reaching an agreement on climate change and adopting a bold vision for the period beyond 2015.
I welcome the African voices that have spoken out in favour of an ambitious climate agreement in 2015 that would address the continent's vulnerabilities to the extreme weather and other impacts associated with climate change. I renew my invitation to you to attend the Climate Summit I will convene in New York on September 23rd. I encourage you to bring your ideas on mitigation, adaptation, resilience and energy.
I also thank Africa for its engagement in the discussion on the post-2015 process, exemplified by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf's service as co-chair of my High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons and now as chair of the African Union High-Level Committee. Discussions among Member States are deepening, including on a set of sustainable development goals, and I encourage your active engagement so that we can strike the balance that will ensure economic growth, social progress and environmental stewardship. The only way to make poverty eradication irreversible is by putting the world on a sustainable development path.
Conflicts and governance challenges in parts of the COMESA zone continue to have a major impact. We are all aware that it can take decades to recover from such upheavals. The United Nations will continue to work closely with the African Union and the continent's sub-regional organizations to promote security, accountable institutions and the participation of the voices and energies of civil society. The fundamental human rights of non-discrimination and equality will also be crucial in building peaceful, pluralistic and prosperous societies.
Our shared challenge is to work more concertedly together to confront today's emergencies while building foundations of peace for tomorrow. With our fates ever more entwined, our future must be one of ever deeper and wider cooperation. That is the global logic of our times -- and this is an opportunity for the continent. I count on your leadership and your efforts to uphold your political and moral responsibilities to your people and to the world.
In that spirit, I offer my best wishes for a successful summit.