Has the Kyoto Protocol been effective in fighting climate change?
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL
It has been effective in the sense that it has helped raise awareness. Obviously, we cannot pretend that we have achieved everything the Kyoto agreement had in mind, but the awareness is there. People realize that unless we take steps to arrest climate change, we are heading toward catastrophic consequences that will be irreversible.
Do you think world leaders are putting enough effort into combatting global warming?
I don't think so. This is why we need the energy and involvement of everyone. This is our planet. We cannot and should not leave it to the leaders alone.
What is the evidence for dangerous, man-made global warming?
Richard Treadgold, AUCKLAND
Highly respected scientists have come to a consensus as to the impact of global warming. There is a broad consensus that we should reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 50% by the year 2050.
What connection do you think there is between global warming and poverty?
Paulette Donald, LOS ANGELES
Global warming has had a real impact on economic development. There are farmers who can no longer till the land that fed their parents and grandparents because it's become almost desert. With changing rain patterns, we have a serious problem of food production. Diseases are moving faster and farther. This is all on account of climate change.
What do you consider to be the greatest achievement of the U.N. during your tenure?
GA-MPHAHLELE, SOUTH AFRICA
The fight against poverty and the fact that we got heads of state to agree to development goals. For the first time, we came up with a common agenda for development.
What was the greatest failure of the U.N. during your time there?
Our failure to stop the war in Iraq. Some of us knew it was going to be a disaster and tried very hard to stop it. We all have seen the results.
Do you think the U.N. should be given authority to intervene militarily in situations like Darfur?
I'm not sure the member states are ready to give the U.N. a standing army. For two years, U.N. operations in Darfur have been asking for 18 helicopters. [Member countries say] they don't have them. No one can pretend that the world cannot produce 18 helicopters. It's a question of will. And I don't think you will see a U.N. army.
What do you see as the biggest issues for the U.N. over the next decade?
Monica Mihai, SYDNEY
A world in which extreme poverty and immense wealth live side by side is simply not sustainable. We're dealing with issues--crime, nuclear weapons, diseases, swine flu--[that] no country can handle alone. How do we get governments to act cooperatively in the common interest? We saw a bit of that during the financial crisis. There was a sense of despair that pulled them together. Now that some people are rushing ahead and saying we are out of the crisis, we are falling back on the old habits of protecting our national interests.
Do you think the election of President Barack Obama has brought changes in the world's perception of the U.S.?
Faizan Syed, COPENHAGEN