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Secretary-General’s Address to the General Assembly

Mr. President of the General Assembly, Excellencies,

I am here to sound the alarm:  The world must wake up.

We are on the edge of an abyss — and moving in the wrong direction.

Our world has never been more threatened.

Or more divided.

We face the greatest cascade of crises in our lifetimes.

The COVID-19 pandemic has supersized glaring inequalities.

The climate crisis is pummeling the planet.

Upheaval from Afghanistan to Ethiopia to Yemen and beyond has thwarted peace.

A surge of mistrust and misinformation is polarizing people and paralyzing societies.

Human rights are under fire.

Science is under assault.

And economic lifelines for the most vulnerable are coming too little and too late — if they come at all. Continue reading

Joint Press Release – Pacific Leaders meet with United Nations Secretary-General

Pacific Leaders met with United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on 23 September 2021 in a virtual meeting held on the margins of the high-level week of the seventy-sixth session of the United Nations General Assembly.

The Prime Minister of Fiji and Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, Hon. Josaia V. Bainimarama, opened the meeting, commemorating 50 years of Pacific regionalism and collective action as the Pacific Islands Forum. He noted that Pacific Leaders would soon consider the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent, a vital step in addressing the challenges facing the Pacific, from planning and owning its development agenda to building regional resilience and a blue economy. The Prime Minister commended the Secretary-General’s advocacy on issues facing the Pacific, including the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, oceans, the Sustainable Development Goals, human rights, and nuclear legacy concerns. He also welcomed the opening of a multi-country United Nations office in the North Pacific. The Prime Minister urged the Secretary-General to continue to spread the region’s collective message of urgent climate action to the world. Continue reading

Food’s a human right, not just ‘a commodity to be traded’: Guterres

Every day, hundreds of millions of people go to bed hungry. Three billion people cannot afford a healthy diet. Two billion are overweight or obese and yet 462 million, are underweight. Nearly a third of all food that is produced, is lost or wasted.  

These are just some of the problems and contradictions laid bare by the UN Secretary-General on Thursday at the opening of the landmark UN Food Systems Summit, that is bringing together farmers and fishers, youth, Indigenous Peoples, Heads of State, governments and many more, in an effort to transform the sector and get the world back on track to achieve all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

For António Guterres, “change in food systems is not only possible, it is necessary”; for the people, for the planet and for prosperity.

The UN chief warned, though, that COVID-19 has made the challenge much greater.

At the same time, Mr. Guterres said, the world is “waging a war against nature and reaping the bitter harvest”, with ruined crops, dwindling incomes and failing food systems. More

No Denying It episode 5: Jane Goodall Introduces Xiaoyuan “Charlene” Ren

In the fifth episode of the UN climate action podcast No Denying It, United Nations Messenger of Peace Jane Goodall, known for her groundbreaking scientific work studying chimpanzees, interviews Xiaoyuan “Charlene” Ren.

Ms. Ren is the founder of MyH20, a network that collects drinking water data to help find solutions to improve water quality across China. Globally, two billion people lack access to safe drinking water, a figure that will only go up as infrastructure struggles to keep pace with new climate change-related weather patterns. More

Call to action: Prevent gender-based violence in humanitarian emergencies

Top UN officials met in the margins of the 76th General Assembly on Thursday,  with a strong call to action to stamp out gender-based violence (GBV), amid a rise in forced displacement and other humanitarian emergencies around the globe.

GBV includes acts that inflict physical, sexual or mental harm – or other forms of suffering, coercion and limits on personal freedoms – and has “long-term consequences on the sexual, physical and psychological health of survivors”, according to the UN’s sexual and reproductive health agency (UNFPA).

These are being driven increasingly by conflict, climate change, famine and insecurity, heightening vulnerabilities for girls and women. UNFPA Executive Director Natalia Kanem told the meeting on Localizing GBV in humanitarian crises, that peace, justice and dignity are the “birthright of every woman and girl”.

The top UNHCR official said that providing “substantive, flexible, direct and rapid” resources to women-led, community-based organizations without undue red tape is “one of the most important” ways to empower them. More

UN chief: Window to avert devasting climate impacts ‘rapidly closing’

No region is immune to climate disasters the UN chief told the Security Council on Thursday, warning that “our window of opportunity” to prevent the worst climate impacts is “rapidly closing”.

Drawing attention to the “deeply alarming” report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) last month, Secretary-General António Guterres spelled out that “much bolder climate action is needed” to maintain international peace and security.

He urged the G20 industrialized nations to step up and drive action before the UN Climate Conference (COP26) in early November. He assured that the UN is working on new approaches to shift to renewable energy producers, which will continue “beyond the lifetime of our missions”.

We are all part of the solution. Let us all work together to mitigate and adapt to climate disruption to build peaceful and resilient societies”, concluded the Secretary-General. More

20 years after Durban Declaration, racism reverberates in ‘echo chambers of hate’

Two decades after a landmark declaration was adopted to eradicate racism, discrimination continues to “permeate institutions, social structures and everyday life in every society”, the UN chief told a high-level meeting on Wednesday.

Marking the 20th anniversary of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA), Heads of States and Governments gathered in the General Assembly hall as part of UNGA76, to discuss reparations, racial justice and equality for people of African descent.

“People of African descent, minority communities, indigenous peoples, migrants, refugees, displaced persons, and so many others – all continue to confront hatred, stigmatization, scapegoating, discrimination, and violence”, spelled out Secretary-General António Guterres.

“Xenophobia, misogyny, hateful conspiracies, white supremacy and Neo-Nazi ideologies are spreading – amplified in echo chambers of hate”, he added. More

John Lennon, stamps inspiring message of peace, on UN’s big week

This year’s International Day of Peace has been marked by the release of new stamps featuring music icon and peace campaigner, John Lennon, by the UN Postal Administration (UNPA), as the UN General Assembly High Level Week gets underway.

It’s a reminder that as K-pop sensation BTS take UNGA76 by storm with their message of hope and youthful idealism for a better world, it’s a cause that many of their musical forebears have championed in the past.

Observed globally each year on 21 September, the Day is devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among, all nations and peoples. More

Afghanistan: ‘Palpable’ fear of ‘brutal and systemic repression’ of women grows

Since the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan last month, they have made some commitments to uphold human rights. However, their subsequent actions have “sadly contradicted” those promises, the UN rights chief told a side event of the General Assembly on Tuesday.

Michelle Bachelet informed a high-level event on safeguarding 20 years of international engagement in Afghanistan, that women have been “progressively excluded from the public sphere”, prohibited from appearing without a male guardian and face increasing restrictions on their right to work.

There is real and palpable fear among Afghan women of a return to the Taliban’s brutal and systemic repression of women and girls during the 1990s”, said the High Commissioner. More

World’s two largest economies commit to climate action – Guterres

UN Secretary-General António Guterres welcomed important commitments made towards climate action by the world’s two largest economies, as the 76th High Level Debate began in New York.

He hailed United States’ President Jose Biden’s announcement that the US would significantly increase its international climate finance to approximately $11.4 billion a year. “This increased contribution from the United States will bring developed countries closer to meeting their collective commitment to mobilize $100 billion a year in climate finance”, said the UN chief, in a statement.

Mr. Guterres also welcomes the announcement made by President Xi Jinping that China would end all financing of coal fired power plants abroad and redirect its support to green and low carbon energy.

Accelerating the global phase out of coal is the single most important step to keep the 1.5-degree goal of the Paris Agreement within reach”, he underscored. More