The Secretary-General outlined many of the challenges facing the world today, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the 2030 deadline as well as ensuring economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, respect for human rights, and climate action.An 11-year-old girl sits on the rubble of a house in Rafah, in the southern the Gaza Strip.
Commitments still stand
© UNICEF/Eyad El BabaAlthough righting our troubled world requires effective global action, Mr. Guterres said “the current international system is out of date, out of time, and out of step” as it was established when many G-77 countries were still colonized.More than 130 countries are members of the bloc – the largest grouping of the global South, representing 80 percent of the planet’s population – and their solidarity and partnership are essential to building a sustainable, peaceful, and just world for all, he said.
Middle East ‘tinderbox’
Highlighting the conflict in Gaza, the Secretary-General warned that “the Middle East is a tinderbox” and urged action to prevent spillover across the region. He again stressed the need for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, access for humanitarian aid, and the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.Another advisory board is working to ensure scientific breakthroughs are shared equally for the benefit of all people.“While South-South cooperation is strong and deepening, it does not replace the need for the respect of the commitments of the global North – for sustained engagement to reduce poverty and inequality, support growth, and build resilience in developing countries,” he said.
Outdated international system
As new technologies can turbocharge progress toward the SDGs, he expressed hope that the proposed UN Digital Compact will be adopted at the Summit of the Future.“The repeated refusal yesterday to accept the two-State solution for Israelis and Palestinians is totally unacceptable, as I told the summit of the Non-Aligned Movement,” he said.
Hope lies ahead
While the Loss and Damage Fund marks a step forward, “we must call for meaningful contributions that have not yet been announced,” Mr. Guterres said.“The denial of the right to statehood for the Palestinian people would indefinitely prolong a conflict that has become a major threat to global peace and security; exacerbate polarization; and embolden extremists everywhere.” He called for reforming the UN Security Council, saying it is paralyzed by geopolitical divisions while its composition does not reflect the reality of today’s world. Similarly, the global financial system established after the Second World War must also be reformed.“It is a chance to create the conditions for countries to achieve the SDGs. To find consensus on frameworks to address new challenges. And to build a better world for us all,” he said, noting that the Summit will also consider deep reforms of the international financial architecture.He added that a newly created expert body has made preliminary recommendations on global Artificial Intelligence (AI) governance, including for accelerating sustainable development. “Let us face it: those that benefit most from the present global governance system are unlikely to lead its reform. So, momentum for change must come from you,” he told leaders. “I urge you to keep driving these efforts forward.”Financial commitments made by richer countries also must be met, and clarification on the 0 billion promised annually for climate action as well as doubling adaptation finance by 2025 are mere starting points.Calling for the G-77 to unite against climate catastrophe, Mr. Guterres urged members “to hold developed countries to account for climate justice, and for leading an equitable and just transition, based on the phaseout of fossil fuel and massive investment in renewable energy.”