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United Nations, Dec 30  Outgoing UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will be the special guest at the Times Square in New York to help drop the square’s famous crystal ball on Saturday night to usher in the New Year, UN officials have said.

Ban will push the Waterford crystal button on the main stage to start the official 60-second countdown to the New Year in his last mission as the UN chief just seconds before he retires, and call on people around the world to take actions in support of the Sustainable Development Goals, the officials said on Thursday.

The SDGs are a set of 17 goals to serve as guidelines for the global development efforts for the years up to 2030.

The celebration, a well-known traditional event which is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of spectators from the US and other parts of the world, is co-organised by Times Square Alliance and Countdown Entertainment.

“I look forward to joining with hundreds of thousands of people from around the world to ring in the New Year at Times Square,” Ban said, who will be replaced by Antonio Guterres on January 1.

“This event is a powerful reminder of our common humanity at a time when solidarity is needed to tackle global issues, respond to the needs of those who suffer and overcome divisions in society,” he said.

“As we celebrate a New Year, let us also sound the loudest possible call for inclusion, compassion and peace.”

Previous special guests for Times Square New Year’s Eve included Muhammed Ali, Christopher Reeve, Bill and Hillary Clinton.

“Ban’s legacy of bringing people and nations together, and peace aligns perfectly with New Year’s hopes for a better and more just world,” said Tim Tompkins, President of the Times Square Alliance.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was unanimously adopted by the UN’s 193-member states on September 25, 2015.

The agenda touches every area of our lives. It is a blueprint for action across all three pillars of the organisation’s work — peace and security, development and human rights.

With its 17 SDGs, it recognises the complexity of our daily experience — poverty, disease, inequalities, our changing climate, what forces us from our homes to seek refuge, violence inside and outside our homes, and extremism driven by those who put hatred above hope.

“We are honoured to highlight Ban’s legacy as he joins us on stage to lead the countdown to the New Year for the revellers in Times Square and viewers watching around the world,” said Jeff Straus, the President of Countdown Entertainment.

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