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Join ‘Essential’ Effort to Ensure Fairness of ‘Morally Bankrupt’ Global Financial System, Secretary-General Says, in Message for World Government Summit

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message for the World Government Summit in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, today:

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen let me start by congratulating the Government and people of the UAE for so impressively hosting Expo 2020 under such challenging circumstances.  You have brought the world together around the theme of connecting minds and creating the future with a focus on the Sustainable Development Goals.

That is very much the spirit of this World Government Summit.  Since 2013, the World Government Summit has drawn innovative thinkers and decision-makers to Dubai to explore pathways to a better future for all humanity.  Your theme — “Shaping the Future of Governments” — is an important opportunity to discuss how Governments can better respond to the needs of their people, and the planet we all share, at this challenging moment in history.

This year, you meet when hope is in short supply.  When mistrust, divisions and fear are growing.  When global recovery and the Sustainable Development Goals are slipping farther from reach.  And when the solutions to the challenges facing our world seem more distant than ever.

Governments are called upon to address these struggles head-on.  For their own people, but also for our common future.  And do so in solidarity — as a global family.

Allow me to briefly touch on three points as we seek pathways forward.

First, any progress depends on peace.  The war in Ukraine is inflicting massive suffering, destruction and death.  The punishing effects stretch far beyond Ukraine’s borders — with massive impacts on food and fuel prices that are already spiralling into a socioeconomic crisis around the world, in particular for developing countries.  And the nuclear dimensions of the conflict are truly bone-chilling.

But the crisis in Ukraine is the latest entry in a growing list of destructive conflicts that are putting tens of millions of people in the line of fire.  From Ethiopia, South Sudan and the Sahel.  To Libya, Syria, Yemen, Myanmar and beyond.  At this perilous moment, we need to build trust through dialogue and diplomacy, inclusion, equality and a focus on fighting humanity’s common enemies — COVID‑19, poverty, and an unrelenting climate crisis.

Second, Governments are called upon to invest in their people by investing in all the pillars of development.  Health and food systems that are accessible to all people.  Education, job creation and training to help people compete in the rapidly changing global economy, where yesterday’s skills don’t always match today’s job market.  Universal digital connectivity, so all countries can benefit from the incredible technological progress being made every day.  And expanded social protection so nobody slips through the cracks.

As Governments support the people inside their borders, they also need to help reform a morally bankrupt global financial system that prevents developing countries from doing the same.  They need urgent debt relief and restructuring.  We need to reform the international financial architecture, examine the role of credit ratings agencies and boost the resources of multilateral development banks.

We need new metrics that go beyond gross domestic product (GDP), including steps to measure countries’ vulnerabilities, exclusion, and climate and environment risks.  And we need to build more fairness into tax systems to re-invest some of the massive pockets of global wealth into the people and countries that need it most.  I call on all Governments, particularly developed countries, to join this essential effort and bring fairness to the global financial system so that it benefits all people and all countries.

And third, both inside and outside their borders, all Governments need to support more ambitious action on climate.  Last year, global energy-related emissions surged to their highest level in history.  Our planet has had enough.  Our addiction to fossil fuels is killing us.  The IPCC’s [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] recent report reminded us that we have a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to hold warming to 1.5°C to secure a liveable future.

People and ecosystems are already being clobbered by climate change.  Deaths from floods, droughts and storms have been 15 times higher in the most vulnerable regions.  We need urgent, transformative efforts from all countries to eliminate coal and stop expanding oil and gas exploration to keep warming to 1.5°C.  And we need to build resilience against the impacts that are already happening.

Developing countries need a massive boost in technical and financial support to phase out coal and spark a just transition to renewable energy and green jobs.  We need to see 50 per cent of climate finance going to adaptation, and reformed eligibility systems so vulnerable communities can access it.

All development banks must urgently work with Governments to design pipelines of bankable projects.  And developed countries must deliver on their $100 billion climate finance commitment to developing countries this year and show a pathway to how they will double adaptation finance by 2025.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, we need to stop killing our planet, killing each other, and killing opportunities for countries to recover.  Let’s unite behind solutions that can transform our world.  For people, for our planet, for peace itself.


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