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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

Secretary-General’s message on World Food Day

World Food Day is not only a reminder of the importance of food to every person on the planet — it is a call to action to achieve food security around the world.

Today, almost 40 per cent of humanity — three billion people — cannot afford a healthy diet.

Hunger is on the rise.

So too are undernourishment and obesity.

The economic impacts of COVID-19 have made a bad situation even worse.

The pandemic has left an additional 140 million people unable to access the food they need.

At the same time, the way we produce, consume and waste food is taking a heavy toll on our planet.

It is putting historic pressure on our natural resources, climate and natural environment — and costing us trillions of dollars a year.

As this year’s theme makes clear, the power to change is in our hands.

“Our actions are our future.

Last month, the world gathered for the United Nations Food Systems Summit.

Countries made bold commitments to transform food systems.

To make healthy diets more affordable and accessible.

And to make food systems more efficient, resilient and sustainable at every step — from production and processing, to marketing, transportation and delivery.

We can all change how we consume food, and make healthier choices — for ourselves, and our planet.

In our food systems, there is hope.

On this World Food Day, join us as we commit to take transformative action to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals through food systems that deliver better nutrition, a better environment and a better life for every person.

New York

16 October 2021

Rising poverty a ‘moral indictment of our times’: Guterres

For the first time in two decades, extreme poverty is on the rise, the UN chief said in his message released on Friday, marking the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, on 17 October.

Describing current levels of poverty as “a moral indictment of our times”, Secretary-General António Guterres said that the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on economies and societies around the world, with some 120 million more people falling into poverty last year.

“A lopsided recovery is further deepening inequalities between the Global North and South”, said Mr. Guterres. “Solidarity is missing in action – just when we need it most”.

Mr. Guterres outlined a three-pronged global recovery approach to ‘Building Forward Better’ that begins with stronger political will and partnerships to achieve universal social protection by 2030.

For a transformative recovery to end to the endemic structural disadvantages and inequalities that perpetuated poverty even before the pandemic, the world must invest in job re-skilling for the growing green economy, according to the UN chief. More

The right to a clean and healthy environment: 6 things you need to know

On 8 October, loud and unusual applause reverberated around the chamber of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. A battle fought for decades by environmental activists and rights’ defenders, had finally borne fruit.

For the first time ever, the United Nations body whose mission is to promote and protect human rights around the worldpassed a resolution recognizing access to a healthy and sustainable environment as a universal right.

The text also calls on countries to work together, and with other partners, to implement this breakthrough.

The newly declared right to a healthy and clean environment will also hopefully influence positively negotiations during the upcoming UN Climate Conference COP26, in Glasgow, which has been described by the UN chief as the last chance to ‘turn the tide’ and end the war on our planet. More

Myanmar: In race against time, experts collect evidence of rights violations

For more than two years, a UN-appointed team of 59 people has been collecting and analyzing more than two million pieces of evidence about possible human rights violations in Myanmar. 

Working out of Geneva, there are experts in gender violence and crimes against children; analysts with experience in international justice; specialists in open source evidence; and investigators working with sophisticated information systems.

The team of professionals are formally known as the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar, (IIMM) or Myanmar Mechanism, and was created in 2018 by the Human Rights Council.

In an extensive interview with UN News, the head of the Mechanism, Nicholas Koumjian, explains the importance of preserving this evidence before it is potentially lost.

“Crime scenes get disturbed, bodies decompose, wounds can heal, people’s memories can fade, witnesses with information can pass away”, he explains. “So it’s very important to collect the information while you can.” More

Mali maestro’s message of peace to Sahel region’s youngsters drawn to extremism

An ambitious project to raise awareness about rising insecurity and mass displacement in the Sahel has resulted in an original musical score from Mali songwriter Vieux Farka Touré.

In partnership with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Mr. Toure’s A Song For The Sahel, highlights the crisis in many countries of the region, while also spotlighting its rich musical heritage.

In an exclusive interview with UN News, the respected musician described how he no longer felt comfortable driving across the country to perform, as he used to do. Malians now “sleep with one eye open”, he said, in reference to the insurgency led by extremists, who have taken advantage of the lack of opportunities for the country’s youngsters.

“The youth must show courage, strength and fight against this crisis,” he said. “Peace and solidarity are the tools. If peace is built now, our children tomorrow will thrive.”

“Music is a fantastic tool to share messages. Sharing awareness is of paramount importance. It has a strong impact on what happens in our countries.” More

Sustainable transport key to green energy shift: UN Secretary-General

With global transport at a crossroads, government leaders, industry experts, and civil society groups are meeting in Beijing, China, for a UN conference to chart the way forward to a more sustainable future for the sector, and greater climate action overall. 

The three-day UN Sustainable Transport Conference, which opened on Thursday, will examine how transportation can contribute to climate response, economic growth and sustainable development.

It is taking place just weeks before the COP26 UN climate change conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

In remarks to the opening, UN Secretary-General António Guterres underlined what is at stake. “The next nine years must see a global shift towards renewable energy. Sustainable transport is central to that transformation,” he said.

The move to sustainable transport could deliver savings of $70 trillion by 2050, according to the World Bank.  More

Secretary-General’s message on World Food Day

World Food Day is not only a reminder of the importance of food to every person on the planet — it is a call to action to achieve food security around the world.

Today, almost 40 per cent of humanity — three billion people — cannot afford a healthy diet.

Hunger is on the rise.

So too are undernourishment and obesity.

The economic impacts of COVID-19 have made a bad situation even worse.

The pandemic has left an additional 140 million people unable to access the food they need.

At the same time, the way we produce, consume and waste food is taking a heavy toll on our planet. Continue reading

Diversity, a ‘source of strength’, UN chief tells Security Council

Inclusion is fundamental to rebuild societies in the wake of war and achieve durable peace, UN Secretary-General told world leaders, ambassadors and prominent global citizens meeting in the Security Council on Tuesday. 

The UN chief addressed an open debate on diversity, state-building and the search for peace, organized by Kenya, which holds the rotating Council presidency this month.

“For countries emerging from the horrors of conflict and looking to a better future – indeed for all countries – diversity must not be seen as a threat.  It is a source of strength,” the Secretary-General said.

Pacific civil society and illustrators becoming public finance management experts

More than 50 civil society organization (CSO) representatives and illustrators from Fiji, Tuvalu, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea are on their way to being experts as they proceed into the second phase of the ‘Almost Experts’ mentorship program that will be virtually launched on 13 October 2021 at 11 a.m. (Fiji Time).

The programme is provided by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) through the Strengthening of Public Finance Management and Governance in the Pacific Project (PFM Project).

The PFM project aims to strengthen oversight over public financial management in the Pacific region, though improving the budgetary scrutiny, public financial oversight and accountability capacities of parliaments, SAIs and civil society within the region, aligning with international public financial oversight and accountability standards, and fostering citizen engagement and oversight. More

Finance Ministers hold key to COP26 success: UN Secretary-General

The COP26 climate change conference must be “a turning point” if countries are to limit global temperature rise in line with the Paris Agreement, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Tuesday. 

Addressing members of the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action, he highlighted their critical role as the conference date fast approaches.

“As Ministers of Finance, you hold the key to success for COP26 and beyond,” he said in a video message to their latest meeting, held from Washington, DC. “Your decisions and actions in the coming weeks will determine whether the global economic recovery will be low-carbon, resilient and inclusive or whether it will lock-in fossil fuel-intensive investments with high risks of stranded assets,” he added.

The UN chief further called for ministers to support development of the Multidimensional Vulnerability Index, aimed at helping Small Island Developing States to access concessional financing.  More