Secretary-General’s remarks to Petersberg Climate Dialogue

COVID-19 has put the lives of billions of people around the globe in turmoil, inflicting grave suffering and destabilizing the global economy.

It has exposed the fragility of our societies and economies to shocks, and it has laid bare deep inequalities that threaten the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The only answer is brave, visionary and collaborative leadership.

The same leadership is needed to address the looming existential threat of climate disruption.

Last year was the second-hottest year on record, part of the hottest decade in recorded history.

Delayed climate action will cost us vastly more each year in terms of lost lives and livelihoods, crippled businesses and damaged economies.

The highest cost is the cost of doing nothing.

We must urgently put in place measures to strengthen resilience and cut greenhouse gas emissions to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees.

Technology is on our side.

So, increasingly, is public opinion, especially the voice of young people.

Many cities and businesses are taking action.

But we still lack the necessary political will in many parts of the world.

That is why I continue to advocate for significantly more ambition on mitigation, adaptation and financing.

 

On mitigation, we need all countries to commit to carbon neutrality by 2050.

On adaptation, we need to support those countries least responsible for climate change, but most vulnerable to its impacts.

They need to build resilience to protect their populations.

And for that we need adequate financing, beginning with the promised mobilization of $100 billion US dollars a year for mitigation and adaptation efforts in developing countries.

As we plan our recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, we have a profound opportunity to steer our world on a more sustainable and inclusive path – a path that tackles climate change, protects the environment, reverses biodiversity loss and ensures the long-term health and security of humankind.

By making the transition to low-carbon, climate-resilient growth, we can create a world that is clean, green, safe, just and more prosperous for all.

 

I am proposing six climate-related actions to shape the recovery.

First: As we spend trillions to recover from Covid-19, we must deliver new jobs and businesses through a clean, green and just transition.

Investments must accelerate the decarbonization of all aspects of our economy.

Second: where taxpayers’ money is needed to rescue businesses, it must be creating green jobs and sustainable and inclusive growth.

It must not be bailing out outdated, polluting, carbon-intensive industries.

Third: Fiscal firepower must shift economies from grey to green, making societies and people more resilient through a transition that is fair to all and leaves no one behind.

Fourth: Looking forward, public funds should invest in the future, by flowing to sustainable sectors and projects that help the environment and climate.

Fossil fuel subsidies must end, and carbon must have a price and polluters must pay for their pollution.

Fifth: The global financial system, when it shapes policy and infrastructure, must take risks and opportunities related to climate into account.

Investors cannot continue to ignore the price our planet pays for unsustainable growth.

Sixth: To resolve both emergencies, we must work together as an international community.

Like the coronavirus, greenhouse gases respect no boundaries.

Isolation is a trap. No country can succeed alone.

 

We already have a common framework for action – the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

To that end, I am asking all countries to prepare enhanced national climate action plans, or Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), and strategies to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

There are some signs of important progress.

Some countries, including Chile, the current COP President, have already submitted enhanced NDCs, and a further 114 countries have announced they will do so.

121 countries have committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

I encourage the European Union to continue showing global leadership by presenting, by the end of the year, a Nationally Determined Contribution in line with its commitment to become the first climate neutral continent by 2050.

And I congratulate Chancellor Angela Merkel, for her leadership and determination.

And I am sure the incoming COP President, the UK, will present an ambitious, quality NDC in line with his nation’s strategy to get to carbon neutrality by 2050.

 

Just last week, the smallest and most vulnerable members of our international family, the small island nations, re-committed to climate ambition, even in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis.

Their leadership should serve as an inspiration to all.

We cannot allow the heavy and rising debt burden of these and other developing countries to serve as a barrier to their ambition.

But the key to tackling the climate crisis is the big emitters.

Let us not forget that the G20 countries collectively account for more than 80 per cent of global emissions and over 85 per cent of the global economy.

All of them must also commit to carbon neutrality by 2050.

 

The Paris Agreement was largely made possible by the engagement of the United States and China.

Without the contribution of the big emitters, all our efforts risk to be doomed.

They say it’s darkest just before the dawn.

These are dark days, but they are not without hope.

We have a rare and short window of opportunity to rebuild our world for the better.

Let us use the pandemic recovery to provide a foundation for a safe, healthy, inclusive and more resilient world for all people.

Thank you.

New York

28 April 2020

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Deputy Secretary-General’s press conference on the Launch of the “Rise for All” initiative

Thank you very much, Stéphane. Thank you to all of you for being with us today, and I am really delighted to be joined by Achim Steiner, the Administrator of UNDP.

As we all know, we are living in surreal times. The world as we know it has been hit by an unprecedented health, humanitarian and economic crisis. COVID is a pandemic touching all corners of the world, and we will need our solidarity to rise to the occasion of the global response that is needed at a magnitude that we have never seen before.

Every country and community will be affected and under the leadership of the Secretary-General, our job in the United Nations is to be ready to serve and to support countries, governments, communities, businesses, in fighting the pandemic, suppressing the virus, and ensuring that we support all leaders in the socio-economic recovery.

Today, I am pleased to launch two efforts in support of the world’s response to COVID-19 and recovery. First, the framework for immediate socio-economic response and recovery to COVID, which puts into practice the Secretary-General’s report, “Shared Responsibility, Global Solidarity” that he released in March.

The second is “Women Rising for All” putting women leaders at the forefront calling the world to action for the responses that we will need on the health, the economic and the humanitarian front.

For the framework, this complements all UN efforts, particularly in health, which is being ably led by the World Health Organization (WHO), and Dr. Tedros [Adhanom Ghebreyesus]. It is also being led in the humanitarian sector, on the Humanitarian Response Plan.

The Framework centres around five interconnected clusters. In a nutshell, ensuring that our health services are protected, reinforced and capacities built to build back better. The second, ensuring that people have access to social protection and basic services;

The third will be to protect jobs, SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises,] in supporting economic recovery.

The fourth, supporting elements of the fiscal and financial stimulus macroeconomic framework, including the call for a debt standstill to allow a fiscal space to address the crisis.

And the last, but not least, is that community engagement that we will need to build the resilience of the most vulnerable.

This framework restates and commits to human rights, the environmental sustainability, climate action, gender equality, thus reflecting the 2030 agenda, the Paris Agreement. COVID-19 may have put a pause button on the world, but it certainly hasn’t stopped climate change, nor has it stopped the vulnerabilities or the inequalities around the world. And we must take profit from this crisis to look at the opportunities that we can address.

The framework guides action through the next 12 to 18 months, under the leadership of the Resident Coordinators and our country teams, and we will be relying on the technical lead of UNDP to ensure that we can operationalize this framework in the shortest possible time. It is the first time that we are looking at development with an emergency lens. We have looked at the humanitarian and the health, but now for development it is equally urgent that we attend to the crisis.

Aligned with the call, the Secretary-General has launched the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund. This will catalyze action at the country level, to mobilize in the first instance, $1 billion by the end of the year, and $2 billion overall. This call has already gone out to 47 of our most vulnerable countries, and we have received all responses, hoping that we will get out to deliver on those calls by the beginning of May.

We will be rising to this occasion with women at the forefront. We have heard over and over again how they carry the brunt of the burden of COVID-19, and the health, the humanitarian and certainly the socioeconomic piece.

And for that, we have an amazing number of women who are coming forward today to support us in that call to action.

I would like to welcome the leadership of President Sahle-Work Zewde of Ethiopia; Prime Minister [Erna] Solberg of Norway; our Sustainable Development Advocate and Founder of the Education Above All initiative, Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, and the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley; Melinda Gates of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and many more incredible leaders as we rise today to take our actions forward in ensuring that we come out – we conquer COVID-19 – and we come out the other side better.

Now more than ever, we need to come together to overcome this global threat that affects us all.

The United Nations is fully committed to supporting people and Governments as we go in this struggle together.

More

New York

27 April 2020

Tap youth talent to tackle COVID-19 crisis and beyond, UN chief tells Security Council

Even amidst the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, countries must do more to harness the talents of young people to address the crisis and its aftermath, the UN Secretary-General told the Security Council on Monday during a video conference meeting to review the five years since its adoption of a landmark resolution on youth, peace and security. More

Secretary-General’s message on the International day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace

The COVID19 pandemic is a tragic reminder of how deeply connected we are. The virus knows no borders and is a quintessential global challenge. Combatting it requires us to work together as one human family.

We must do all we can to save lives and ease the economic and social devastation. Crucially, we need to draw the appropriate lessons about the vulnerabilities and inequalities the virus has laid bare, and mobilize investments in education, health systems, social protection and resilience.

This is the biggest international challenge since the Second World War. Yet even before this test, the world was facing other profound transnational perils – climate change above all.

But multilateralism is not only a matter of confronting shared threats; it is about seizing common opportunities. We now have the opportunity to build back better than in the past, aiming at inclusive and sustainable economies and societies.

It is not enough to proclaim the virtues of multilateralism; we must continue to show its added value. International cooperation must adapt to changing times.

We need a networked multilateralism, strengthening coordination among all global multilateral organizations, with regional ones able to make their vital contributions; and an inclusive multilateralism, based on deep interaction with civil society, businesses, local and regional authorities and other stakeholders… where the voice of youth is decisive in shaping our future.

At this key moment for international cooperation, and in this 75th anniversary year of the United Nations, let us strive as one to realize the founders’ vision of a healthy, equitable, peaceful and more sustainable future for all.

New York

24 April 2020

UN Secretary-General’s message on the beginning of Ramadan

I extend my warmest wishes as millions of Muslims around the world begin observing the holy month of Ramadan.

This will, of course, be a very different Ramadan. Many community activities will naturally be affected by measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, many people in conflict zones will once again be tragically marking this month with war and insecurity all around.

I recently called for an immediate global ceasefire to focus on our common enemy — the virus. I repeat that appeal today, recalling the words of the Holy Quran “and if they incline to peace, then incline to it”.

Ramadan is also about supporting the most vulnerable. I thank governments and people throughout the Muslim world who live by their faith, supporting those fleeing conflict in the best Islamic tradition of hospitality and generosity — a remarkable lesson in this world where so many doors have been closed to those in need of protection, even before COVID-19.

Once again, my best wishes to all for mercy, solidarity and compassion in these trying times.

Watch video

23 April 2020

New York

Secretary-General António Guterres message on International Mother Earth Day

Video message on International Mother Earth Day

On this International Mother Earth Day, all eyes are on the COVID-19 pandemic – the biggest test the world has faced since the Second World War.

We must work together to save lives, ease suffering and lessen the shattering economic and social consequences.

The impact of the coronavirus is both immediate and dreadful.

But there is another deep emergency — the planet’s unfolding environmental crisis.

Biodiversity is in steep decline.

Climate disruption is approaching a point of no return.

We must act decisively to protect our planet from both the coronavirus and the existential threat of climate disruption.

The current crisis is an unprecedented wake-up call.

We need to turn the recovery into a real opportunity to do things right for the future.

I am therefore proposing six climate-related actions to shape the recovery and the work ahead.

First: as we spend huge amounts of money to recover from the coronavirus, we must deliver new jobs and businesses through a clean, green transition.

Second: where taxpayers’ money is used to rescue businesses, it needs to  be tied to achieving green jobs and sustainable growth.

Third: fiscal firepower must drive a shift from the grey to green economy, and make societies and people more resilient

Fourth: public funds should be used to invest in the future, not the past, and flow to sustainable sectors and projects that help the environment and the climate.

Fossil fuel subsidies must end, and polluters must start paying for their pollution

Fifth: climate risks and opportunities must be incorporated into the financial system as well as all aspects of public policy making and infrastructure.

Sixth: we need to work together as an international community.

These six principles constitute an important guide to recovering better together.

Greenhouse gases, just like viruses, do not respect national boundaries.

On this Earth Day, please join me in demanding a healthy and resilient future for people and planet alike.

New York

21 April 2020

 

Music, talent and hope, unite millions across the world online in support of coronavirus workers

This weekend’s One World: Together At Home event, saw many of the biggest names in music join the UN health agency and Global Citizen movement in supporting the millions of healthcare and other front line workers who are helping stave off the ravages of the coronavirus pandemic. More