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G20: UN chief urges to back moves to address global crises

UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Monday urged the world’s largest economies, the G20, to support his initiatives to address climate change, sustainable development, the worldwide food and energy crises, and digital transformation.

Action or inaction by the G20 would be critical to determine if everyone gets to live on a peaceful and healthy planet, he told a press conference in Bali, Indonesia, on the eve of the G20 summit.

The Summit is taking place at the most pivotal, precarious moment in generations, the UN chief told reporters, according to a transcript released in New York.

Geopolitical divisions are sparking new conflicts, and making old ones hard to resolve, while people everywhere are getting hit from every direction by climate change and the rising cost of living. The G20 was ground zero for bridging divisions and finding answers to these crises and more, he said.

He said he had proposed creating a Climate Solidarity Pact, bringing together developed and emerging economies to combine resources and capacities to benefit everyone on the planet.

The UN chief said it would see wealthy nations and international financial institutions provide funding and technical assistance to support emerging economies in accelerating their transition to renewable energy.
The deal will help end dependence on fossil fuels while providing universal, affordable, sustainable energy for all.

“G20 leaders can make or break the Climate Solidarity Pact that I intend to present again tomorrow. Under this pact, they would make extra efforts this decade to keep the limit of 1.5 degrees alive”, said Guterres, referring to the goal to cap global temperature rise.

Developing countries are also unable to access the finance needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include reducing poverty and hunger and investing in healthcare and education.

The SDGs were issuing an SOS, he warned and therefore urged G20 economies to adopt an SDG stimulus package that will provide governments of the Global South with investments and liquidity, and offer debt relief and restructuring.

Guterres noted that a majority of the G20 countries were on the boards of multilateral development banks and so they could and must make it happen.

The Secretary-General will also use the Summit to highlight the food and energy crisis generated by the war in Ukraine.
Focus will be on the need for urgent action to prevent famine and hunger in a growing number of places around the world.

Guterres said the UN-brokered agreement on Ukrainian grain exports, as well as efforts to ensure Russian food and fertilizers can access global markets, were essential to global food security. The Black Sea Grain Initiative had already helped to stabilize markets and bring food prices down, he added.

Meanwhile, engagement continues around access for Russian food and fertilizers, as well as renewal of the landmark deal, which was signed in July and set to expire later this week.

“On energy, the war in Ukraine has clearly demonstrated the dangers of our addiction to fossil fuels. It is the best possible argument for the fastest possible transition to renewable energy,” he said.

On Saturday, the World Food Programme (WFP) announced that it plans to facilitate the donation of 260,000 metric tonnes of fertilizer by the Russian fertilizer company Uralchem-Uralkali to countries in most need in Africa. WFP said it was grateful for the contributions and support.

The first shipment will be loaded onto a WFP-chartered vessel from the Netherlands next week. It will sail via Mozambique, with Malawi as the final destination.

The Secretary-General concluded by underlining the need for leadership in the digital transformation and for guardrails on technology.
Powerful tech companies were running roughshod over human rights and personal privacy and providing platforms for deadly disinformation, in pursuit of profit, he said. “Let’s be clear: disinformation kills. Undermining public health kills and these are life-and-death issues.”

Guterres said he was proposing a way forward based on a Global Digital Compact for an open, free, secure, and inclusive internet.

The Compact calls for universal connectivity via a human-centred digital space where free speech and privacy are protected, and which promotes the safe and responsible use of data.

The UN chief has also called for a global code of conduct that promotes integrity in public communications as well as information literacy.


Anum Mashkoor

Anum Mashkoor is writing for since Sept 2018, particularly on Environment-related matters.