Secretary-General’s Press Conference at G20 Summit in China

This Summit has also witnessed major steps forward on climate change.

As you have already covered, yesterday, the leaders of China and the United States officially joined the Paris Agreement on climate change by depositing their legal documents with me yesterday.

I was very honoured to receive those legal instruments from the two leaders in person and highly commend the outstanding leadership demonstrated by President Xi Jinping of China and President Barack Obama of the United States.

With China and the United States making this historic step we now have 26 parties to the UNFCCC Convention and 39% of global greenhouse emissions accounted for.

Now we just need another 29 Parties and 16 per cent more of global emissions to bring this Paris Agreement into force. And I really count on your strong support from the media.

I urge all leaders, particularly, including the leaders from G20 countries, to show their leadership by accelerating their domestic ratification processes so we can turn the aspirations of Paris into the transformative climate action the world so urgently needs.

To that end, as it is already known I am convening a High-Level event at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, on the margins of the General Assembly, on 21 September in the morning.

I am happy to hear that the draft communiqué of this G20 Summit is also encouraging the speedy entry into force of this key international agreement and I would like to [urge] G20 members, once again, to lead by example on this defining issue of climate change.

Legal processes must be concluded in parallel with a renewed commitment by all the countries to honour their pledges, particularly the OECD Member States, in terms of financial and technical support, including through the Green Climate Fund to many vulnerable countries, developing countries so that they can adjust to this situation, this climate change. We need to keep this momentum.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Before I arrived in China, I visited Myanmar and Sri Lanka, two countries undergoing historic transformation.

In Myanmar, I was encouraged to participate in the Twenty-first Century Panglong Conference in Myanmar, a critical juncture in the seventy-year history of conflict and division between the Union Government and armed ethnic groups. The success of this peace process is in the vital interest of all the people of Myanmar, regardless of ethnicity, religion, political affiliation or socio-economic status.

In Sri Lanka, I stressed that ongoing efforts in peacebuilding, reconciliation and post-conflict transformation, including transitional justice, provide an opportunity for this country to emerge from this trauma stronger. I underlined the importance of addressing the concerns and the aspirations of Sri Lankan people, particularly those victims and their families, in a credible manner.

Sustainable development requires sustainable peace: for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to succeed, for a steady economic growth to be achieved, we need peace and development to work hand in hand. The United Nations will continue to support nations in transition, as they strive to ensure peace, development and human rights.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Here in Hangzhou, I will engage G20 leaders across the breadth of the Summit’s agenda.

I will also emphasize that, to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, it is crucial that we work together to resolve urgent challenges posed by poverty, inequality and conflicts.

We are witnessing protracted conflicts sadly in Syria, Yemen, South Sudan, Libya, Mali and many other places. Extreme poverty and deepening inequalities challenge our sense of what is just. The number of people displaced by conflict reached the highest number since the end of the Second World War, they have reached 65 million, and is now increasing day by day because of continuing conflicts here and there. These issues should be resolved by international solidarity.

At this time of great turbulence, I commend the inclusive and participatory approach of the G20 Chinese Presidency, which has involved more non-G20 [countries] than ever before in the history of the G20.

The G20 this year is going through a great transformation, moving from a short-term focus on managing global financial challenges to a long-term vision for sustainable development.

In that regard, I thank His Excellency President Xi Jinping and the Chinese Presidency for emphasizing sustainable development efforts as a core element of the G20 agenda.

The G20 Action Plan on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is one of the key outcomes of this meeting in Hangzhou.

G20 countries have a key role in promoting stable, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, implementing the sustainable development agenda and supporting the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

I thank you for your attention.

Xie xie, thank you.

Question whether the Paris Agreement on climate change provides for punishment in case countries don’t meet their commitments.

SG: Why do you think of punishment? You are going to get reward and many more accomplishments [from meeting your commitments]. There are certain feelings or perception that taking action earlier than others would take some sacrifice on their national economic social policies and programmes but they are completely wrong, these kinds of perceptions.

The so-called climate change deniers or skeptics, which have been heard during the last seven years – this is almost over. The debate over the climate phenomenon is over, scientifically and environmentally: it is affecting our daily lives.

In that regard, the actions taken by early ‘ratifiers’ like China and the United States – those are the two biggest emitters – are far-reaching, visionary. They are working for the people, they are working for planet earth.

The Sustainable Development Goals and climate change are tightly interlinked and if we do not tackle climate change properly while focusing more on just short-term domestic economic and social policies, you may gain some short-term gain, but in the end, you will have a serious problem.

Therefore, climate change and Sustainable Development Goals should go hand in hand. That is not my message – that is the message of all scientists, economists and all experts. Therefore, leaders should have firm and strong confidence that early action will bring more and more, and better and better results. That is my firm belief and I am sending, reemphasizing this message again. Thank you.

Question on record number of developing countries participating in this G20 Summit.

SG: I really appreciate, as I said in my earlier remarks, and I have made many comments on the Chinese Government’s such far-reaching and visionary and compassionate vision to have invited many more developing countries’ leaders, for example G77 and China Group Chairman country is invited Thailand, and the African Union and the LDC Group. And there are many small countries represented here.

This is in line with consistent Chinese policies to strengthen and to promote further the South-South cooperation. This is I believe part of the spirit of promoting more South South cooperation.

After all, these SDG, Sustainable Development Goals, are aiming to leave no one behind. The Millennium Development Goals were more or less intended to promote socio-economic development and eradicate poverty of the developing world I think we have made great achievement through these MDG but not enough.

We are now talking about the overall sustainable development where nobody, nobody among seven billion people, will be left behind, regardless of their socio-economic status, regardless of their ethnicity, and whatever their differences may be. So everybody should be there.

In that regard, as a G2 country, it is proper and only natural that China pays that attention but just translating into action, that is much more appreciated. It is easy to say “we support developing countries” but it is more difficult to really take action to help these people.

Therefore, I hope this G20 will be focused not only on addressing short-term financial or global economic issues but in a broader way. In that regard, I highly commend and I am vey happy that the G20, for the first time in the history of the G20, the Hangzhou draft communiqué is now focusing on this Sustainable Development Action Agenda as one of their most important [aspects of] the outcome document.

Question on the contributions of the G20 Summit to the Sustainable Development Goals.

SG: Yes, that is exactly what the G20 Summit [aims to], in addition to many other global economic financial issues: to bring everybody on board.

In that regard, the G20 – you must have already seen, I don’t know whether this G20 outcome document as already been distributed – but the draft has been agreed at the Sherpa level. It will have to be approved by leaders today and tomorrow but according to this Joint Communiqué, there is much more focus on making the Sustainable Development Goals as a major Action Agenda.

As you know, this world is experiencing a lot of lack of aggregate demand while there is low investment and there is again high macro-economic vulnerability which may cause more trouble, more difficulties for the developing world.

The developed world, OECD Member countries somehow have the capacity they have the domestic and international capacity to mobilize resources but there are many countries still who do not have the capacity, the resources. Then those capacities can be built up only through some institutional support, like the G20 or OECD or overall United Nations involvement. That is why the United Nations takes the highest priority on the SDG, the implementation of the SDG and also climate change.

So this [Summit] is a very good opportunity and momentum for us to recommit ourselves. Thank you.

Question on reducing poverty, where China stands and where the international community stands.

SG: This is my second time in Hangzhou and I have been already very much impressed by such economic and social development, where people really live in peace and stability. That is quite encouraging. But these kinds of benefits and opportunity should be shared by all the people around the world.

About this Chinese role and the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly regarding poverty eradication: in fact, during the time of our Millennium Development Goals implementation, and this Sustainable Development Goals implementation, poverty eradication is the number one goal. The number one goal is eradicating poverty in all its forms in this world.

That is the number one priority because there are still so many people [living in poverty]. As you may remember, there were one billion people who were living with less than 1.25 dollars a day during the time when we were implementing the Millennium Development Goals.

With a strong involvement and a strong economic push of the Chinese Government, we were able to achieve the number one Goal of the Millennium Development [Goals] by the end of 2010. That is what the World Bank has officially confirmed. That, we owe a lot to the Chinese, to the Chinese Government’s contribution because there were a few hundred millions of Chinese people who were hungry and now, you have almost overcome this.

Why then these Sustainable Development Goals still take&nbspas number one priority Goal “eradicating poverty”? There are many [forms] of poverty, all old forms of poverty must be eradicated by 2030. I am very hopeful that by the end of 2030, when we see the end of this SDG, we will be able to live in a world where there are no people whose stomachs are hungry, empty. That is our priority goal.

Then, based on that, we have to provide good nutrition, good education, good sanitation and water, energy and peace, there are many issues. While we live, we have to live as human being, with human dignity all these remaining 16 Goals cover and help and promote such kind of sustainable development in various, in all the spectrum of our lives.

That [will put] our seven billion people, our planet earth onto a sustainable path. It will make our world more peaceful, more prosperous, through partnership.

I am telling you that it [Agenda 2030] has the philosophical theme of leaving no one behind. Everybody will be on board, it is a vision for people, for the planet, for peace and for prosperity. All these four pieces should be promoted through partnerships among all of us.

In that regard, the G20 is the place where we strengthen such partnership between and among developed and developing countries.