UN chief’s message to world leaders: ‘Wake up, change course, unite’

In a wide-ranging interview with UN News, Secretary-General António Guterres is calling on world leaders to ‘wake up’, make an immediate course correction at home and abroad, and unite. 

“The institutions we have, have no teeth. And sometimes, even when they have teeth, like in the case of the Security Council, they have not much appetite to bite”, the UN chief said.

With only a few days until the 76th session of the General Assembly kicks of its high-level week, Mr. Guterres sat down with UN News to answer questions on a host of topics, from the COVID-19 pandemic, to gender equality.  More

Paris climate deal could go up in smoke without action: Guterres

Unless wealthy nations commit to tackling emissions now, the world is on a “catastrophic pathway” to 2.7-degrees of heating by the end of the century, UN Secretary General António Guterres warned.

This is far beyond the one to 1.5 degree Celsius threshold, agreed by the international community as part of the 2015 Paris Agreement. The UN chief’s remarks came after the UN’s climate agency (UNFCCC) published an update on national climate action plans (officially known as Nationally Determined Contributions or NDCs) submitted by the 191 countries which signed Agreement.

The report indicates that while there is a clear trend that greenhouse gas emissions are being reduced over time, nations must urgently redouble their climate efforts if they are to prevent disastrous global heating in the future.

For Mr. Guterres, the fight against climate change will only succeed if everyone comes together to promote more ambition, more cooperation and more credibility. “No more ignoring science. No more ignoring the demands of people everywhere. It is time for leaders to stand and deliver, or people in all countries will pay a tragic price”. More

Counting on youth, for an ‘equitable and sustainable world for all’

At a virtual event on Friday commemorating the International Day of Peace, the UN chief saluted the “voices, vision and commitment of young people in shaping a more peaceful world”.

You are leaders, changemakers and advocates in our societies”, he told assembled youth online, “speaking out against violence, discrimination and inequalities” and calling for an end to conflicts worldwide, while also “leading the charge for urgent action on climate”.

Secretary-General António Guterres was attending the virtual 2021 Youth Observance, on the theme of Recovering Better for a Sustainable and Equitable World.

Mr. Guterres asked young people to support the UN’s call for a global 24-hour ceasefire, “and for all parties to conflict to commit to a lasting, sustainable peace”.

He also urged youth to “keep pushing governments and other leaders to close the vaccine gap between rich and poor countries”.

And finally, to keep sounding the alarm on the climate emergency engulfing our planet. More

COVID vaccines: Widening inequality and millions vulnerable

Health leaders agree that a world without COVID-19 will not be possible until everyone has equal access to vaccines. More than 4.6 million people have died from the virus since it swept across the globe from the beginning of 2020, but it’s expected that the rate of people dying will slow if more people are vaccinated.

Developed countries are far more likely to vaccinate their citizens, which risks prolonging the pandemic, and widening global inequality. Ahead of a dialogue at the UN on Monday between senior United Nations officials UN News explains the importance of vaccine equity.

It’s a crucial step, obviously, and in many richer countries, life is getting back to some sort of normality for many people, even if some pandemic protocols are still in place. The situation in less developed countries is more challenging. While the delivery of vaccines, provided under the COVAX Facility, is being welcomed across the world, weak health systems, including shortages of health workers are contributing to mounting access and distribution challenges on the ground. More

Statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on the recent executions in Yemen

The Secretary-General deeply regrets that the Houthi movement (who also call themselves Ansar Allah) yesterday carried out executions of nine individuals, one of whom was reportedly a minor at time of detention, and strongly condemns these actions which are a result of judicial proceedings that do not appear to have fulfilled the requirements of fair trial and due process under international law.

Stressing that he opposes the use of the death penalty in all circumstances, the Secretary-General reiterates that international law sets stringent conditions for the application of the death penalty, including compliance with fair trial and due process standards as stipulated under international law. He urgently calls on all parties and authorities to adopt a moratorium on the carrying out of the death penalty. Continue reading

‘Tipping point’ for climate action: Time’s running out to avoid catastrophic heating

The temporary reduction in carbon emissions caused by global COVID-19 lockdowns did not slow the relentless advance of climate change. Greenhouse gas concentrations are at record levels, and the planet is on path towards dangerous overheating, a multi-agency climate report published on Thursday warns. 

According to the landmark United in Science 2021, there “is no sign of growing back greener”, as carbon dioxide emissions are rapidly accelerating, after a temporary blip in 2020 due to COVID, and nowhere close to the targets set by the Paris Agreement.

“We have reached a tipping point on the need for climate action. The disruption to our climate and our planet is already worse than we thought, and it is moving faster than predicted”, UN Secretary General António Guterres underscored in a video message. “This report shows just how far off course we are”, he added.

According to WHO, the COVID-19 recovery efforts should be aligned with national climate change and air quality strategies to reduce risks from cascading climate hazards, and gain health co-benefits. More

Building effective Provincial Youth Councils

The UN Development Programme, in cooperation with the National Youth Congress and the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs, led the process of revitalizing the Provincial Youth Council in Choiseul through a week-long programme.

A leadership workshop involved 16 young representatives from different wards and aimed to empower youth and strengthen their participation in decision-making. As part of the revitalization, Choiseul Youth Council Executives’ elections were held at the end of the programme.

The revitalization programme of Provincial Youth Councils is part of the Inclusive Governance of Natural Resources Project, which UNDP Solomon Islands and UN Women are implementing with the financial support of the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund. More

From K-Pop heroes to net zero: 5 things to look out for at UNGA 76

The 76th session of the UN General Assembly is due to begin on 14 September, and it will be very different from 2020’s fully virtual gathering. UNGA 76 will still be overshadowed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but that won’t stop leaders (some of them in the Assembly Hall) from addressing urgent global challenges. 

Following last year’s virtual UNGA, some Heads of State will be coming to UN Headquarters in New York to deliver their set-piece General Debate speeches at the podium, whilst the majority stay at home to deliver their messages via video.

On the subject of COVID-19 vaccinations, the mantra of the World Health Organization (WHO) has been “no-one’s safe until everyone’s safe”: in other words, richer countries, which are making great strides in inoculating the majority of their citizens, need to ensure that the populations of poorer countries are also protected.

On top of the environmental destruction, shockingly, around a third of all food produced each year is lost or wasted.  The aim of the summit is to develop strategies to combat global challenges such as hunger, climate change, poverty and inequality; and create new food systems that benefit all people and protect the planet.

The climate crisis is now recognized as an issue that is not just an environmental problem, but an existential crisis that affects us all: the UN has described climate change as a “threat multiplier”, which is adding stress to the economic, social, and political systems of every country.

Questions surrounding energy are at the heart of efforts to tackle the climate crisis, so it may be surprising that the last global gathering on energy held under the auspices of the UN General Assembly, took place 40 years ago.More

More than 130 countries expected to announce national commitments at UN Food Systems Summit

At least 91 world leaders are set to participate in the Summit after the UN Secretary-General called on governments to ‘feed hope for a better future’.

António Guterres, UN Secretary-General, urged world leaders earlier this week to bring to New York “ambitious commitments to feed hope for a better future”.

“A well-functioning food system can help prevent conflict, protect the environment and provide health and livelihoods for all,” Guterres said in a call for ambition. “It is our moral imperative to keep our promise to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.”

The Summit follows almost two years of dialogues at community, national and international levels involving more than 40,000 people around the world to share their needs, challenges and ideas for a more sustainable, resilient and inclusive food system. More

COVID crises highlight strengths of democratic systems, says Guterres

The UN Secretary-General, urged the world to “learn from the lessons of the past 18 months, to strengthen democratic resilience in the face of future crises.” 

In his message for the International Day of Democracy, António Guterres explained in the wake of COVID 19, this meant identifying good governance practices that can counter all kinds of emergencies, whether public health, environmental or financial.

“It means addressing the egregious global injustices laid bare by the crisis, from pervasive gender inequalities and inadequate health systems to unequal access to vaccines, education, the internet and online services,” he said.

In his message, António Guterres also stresses the importance of phasing out emergency powers and legal measures by governments, which in some cases have become repressive and contravene human rights law.

As the world starts to look beyond the pandemic, Mr. Guterres called on the international community to “commit to safeguarding the principles of equality, participation and solidarity”, so that it can better weather the storm of future crises. More