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Mobilize Solutions to Help Most Vulnerable Weather Interlinked Global Crises, Secretary-General Urges Steering Committee of Global Crisis Response Group

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ opening remarks to the Steering Committee of the Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance, in New York today:

Welcome, all of you.  I’m extremely grateful for your presence.  This is the first meeting of the Steering Committee of the Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance.  Thanks to all for your contributions, and especially for being here today.

The war in Ukraine is a horror unfolding before our eyes.  First and foremost, we must support the people of that country, end the conflict and help those who have fled to return home.  But the war is also an assault on some of the most vulnerable people and countries in our world.

Many developing countries were already struggling to recover from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic: record inflation; rising interest rates; unmanageable debt burdens.  Now, they face skyrocketing food, energy and fertilizer bills.  At the same time, some developed countries are signalling reduced commitment to humanitarian and development aid.

We need to bring developed and developing countries together to find global solutions.  Because this is a global crisis.  No country will be able to insulate itself from a meltdown of the global economic system; from the domino effect of hoarding food or fuel; or from the long-term impact of increased poverty and hunger.

We need to be clear.  There is enough food, there is enough energy, there is enough finance for every country to make it through the interlinked crises created by this war.  But deep inequalities, together with distribution and logistics problems, mean that supply chains have been disrupted.  Solving these crises calls for coordinated action across the board.  We must act together.

We need to get rid of bottlenecks, prevent hoarding and speculation, reform finance frameworks, to allow those that need money to buy things that are essential for their countries to have access to those funds — revisiting rules and eligibility criteria whenever necessary.

Every country that needs support must be able to access it.  This is the remit of the Global Crisis Response Group, which I will convene.  Members will include Heads of State and Government who have volunteered to champion and advocate on these issues with critical stakeholders.  I look to you, the members of this Steering Committee, to mobilize solutions and come up with strategies and recommendations to help all countries, including the most vulnerable, to weather these interlinked crises.

I see four immediate areas for focus by this Steering Committee.

First, coordination.  These crises are deeply connected.  The risk is that piecemeal approaches will solve one problem but make another worse.  That’s why we need co-created recommendations that align stakeholders around solutions.  Coherence must be at the heart of our work, so we need to be fully transparent and share information.  I know our tech team have already set up some digital tools.  They will be there for our common use.

Second, these crises need urgent action.  Your proposed solutions must be ready to implement.  For example, we need immediate proposals to overcome the new restrictions on Russian airspace and road transport to avert further supply-chain crises.

Third, data and analysis.  I urge you to make full use of data capacity both within and outside the United Nations, from United Nations country teams to data labs in departments and agencies, UN Global Pulse and, of course, the fundamental role of international financial institutions.  In this rapidly evolving situation, your proposals must be based on evidence and informed by up-to-date data and analysis.

Fourth, partnership.  The Global Crisis Response Group and the Steering Committee should be able to make all actors come together for solutions — from Member States and the United Nations system to international financial institutions, regional organizations, country groupings, local governments, the private sector, civil society, academia and communications partners.  We need to be able to organize all of them based on our coordinating capacity.

I am under no illusions about the scale of the task ahead of us.  But I am encouraged by what I have seen so far, both from within the United Nations family, from international financial institutions and from Member States.  There is huge interest in the Global Crisis Response Group from Governments all over the world.

We need to take full advantage of this by speaking with one voice, with clear advocacy on behalf of the most vulnerable.  I have every confidence that this Steering Committee will provide the direction and focus needed for our decisions.  I would like to ask every principal here today individually to examine your organization or department’s support mechanisms you have for vulnerable countries and consider whether they could be updated or upgraded.

From vulnerability indices to support strategies, we already have many of the pieces in place.  We need to repurpose, expand and build on them to create an effective coordinated system-wide response.  Tackling the global impact of the war will require the same unity and solidarity we have seen in the support given to Ukrainian refugees.

We must seize this moment and move forward together.  I have asked the Deputy Secretary-General to lead the Steering Committee on my behalf, so I now hand over to Amina Mohammed to chair the meeting.  I thank you for listening to my initial observations.  I will of course remain with you.

Amina, you have the floor.


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