The world is at a critical moment on several fronts and the biggest challenge facing leaders and institutions is to show people that they care. This is according to the United Nations Secretary General who was speaking to the media in New York ahead of the start of the annual General Assembly High Level segment of the global organisation next week.
Antonio Guterres was also previewing his all-important Climate Action Summit on Monday in which he again urged world leaders not to come with fancy speeches but with concrete commitments towards up scaling ambition towards carbon neutrality by 2050.
Climate Change is a top agenda item for Guterres and he believes the High Level Week should be mobilised to respond to people’s anxieties with answers.
“I see the High Level Week as an excellent opportunity to showcase the United Nations as a centre for solutions and a driver for meaningful, positive change in people’s lives. Let’s face it, we have no time to lose. We are losing the race against climate change. Our world is off-track in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. We see trade wars and real wars, and the spread of hateful words and deadly weapons. Tensions are boiling over – and everyday people always pay the highest price. This is the moment to cool tensions, and nowhere is that more important than in the Gulf.”
At the climate summit, the UN Chief expects member states to showcase their initiatives aimed at moving away from coal, to put a price on carbon by stopping subsidies for fossil fuels and by cutting pollution levels that are so detrimental to human health. The summit is seeking commitments to reduce carbon emission by 45% before 2030 and to capitalise the Green Climate Fund to the tune of $100 billion annually starting in 2020.
“We will need government, businesses and people everywhere to join these efforts so we can put climate action into a higher gear. We also need to step up our drive to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.”
With so many world leaders heading to New York, it is a time to advance diplomacy for peace just as the United States is accusing Iran of an Act of War after the attack –claimed by rebels fighting in Yemen – on oil infrastructure in Saudi Arabia.
“I strongly condemn this attack, I think this attack is a dramatic escalation in the Gulf and I believe that we absolutely need to stop this kind of escalation and that we absolutely need to create the conditions to avoid a major confrontation in the Gulf that would have –as we have seen by the immediate impact on markets – if there would be a major confrontation in the Gulf it would have devastating consequences for the region and globally. “
Guterres is hoping to promote dialogue towards political and economic solutions in Libya, Yemen, from Syria to Palestine, Sudan, South Sudan and Zimbabwe.
“In relation to Zimbabwe, I think it’s very important that true political and economic reform is implemented in Zimbabwe in order first of all to solve the problems of the country and its people and second to be able also to gain in the international community the kind of support that Zimbabwe will need to overcome the very difficult situation in which it is. And of course the human rights dimension is fully part of that.”
The message to world leaders is to put people first, their needs, their aspirations and their rights.