Urgent multilateral action crucial to tackle growing climate emergency and global food crisis, Secretary-General tells Group of 20 Foreign Ministers meeting – World
Here is the message of United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres to the Group of 20 Foreign Ministers (G20) on strengthening multilateralism, in Bali, Indonesia, today:
This G20 meeting comes at an extremely difficult time for multilateralism and global governance.
The international order is in danger of collapsing. The climate crisis is close to the point of no return. The COVID-19 pandemic has killed millions; hunger and poverty are increasing; years of development gains are lost. A multifaceted war is raging in the heart of Europe, in violation of the United Nations Charter. New and evolving forms of conflict, including in cyberspace, require multilateral solutions and frameworks that do not yet exist.
Our unequal global financial system, designed by rich and powerful countries, is failing the developing world. Poorer countries pay much higher borrowing costs than developed countries – and their economies are downgraded when considering debt restructuring or seeking debt relief. Meanwhile, unequal access to vaccines has prolonged the COVID-19 pandemic, contributing to continued suffering and death.
Strengthening multilateralism — the theme of this session — is not a choice, but a necessity. This is the only way to avoid widespread food shortages, worsening climate chaos and a wave of poverty and misery that will leave no country untouched.
I see three areas requiring urgent multilateral action: the growing climate emergency; the food, energy and financial crisis; and the uneven recovery from the pandemic. The climate crisis is our number one emergency. The battle to maintain the 1.5°C target will be won or lost by 2030. You represent the major economies — and 80% of global emissions. The responsibility for preventing the worst impacts of the climate crisis rests largely on your shoulders.
Science tells us that global emissions must fall 45% below 2010 levels by 2030, to keep the 1.5°C target alive. But current national climate commitments would lead to a 14% increase in emissions by 2030. This is collective suicide.
We need a renewable energy revolution. Ending the world’s dependence on fossil fuels is the number one priority. No new coal-fired power plants. No expansion in oil and gas exploration. I pleaded for the creation of [coalitions] around emerging economies to provide financial and technical support, as they accelerate the transition to renewable energy. Significant progress is being made, but there is still much to do on all fronts. Emerging economies must have access to the resources and technology they need. Wealthier countries must finally meet the $100 billion climate finance pledge for developing countries, starting this year.
We also need a radical boost for adaptation and early warning systems. And access and eligibility frameworks must be reviewed, so that developing countries, including middle-income countries, can get the financing they need on time.
Second, the food, energy and financial crisis. Around the world, the war in Ukraine is amplifying other crises and threatening to unleash social and economic devastation. Food prices are at near record highs. Fertilizer prices have more than doubled. There is a real risk of multiple famines this year. Next year could be even worse. Without fertilizer, shortages could spread from corn and wheat to all staple crops, including rice, with a devastating impact on billions of people.
Meanwhile, record energy prices are already triggering blackouts and fuel shortages. We must work together to bring stability to global food and energy markets and support developing economies. Ukraine’s food production, as well as food and fertilizers produced by the Russian Federation, must be brought back to world markets, despite the war. We are working to find a plan that allows for the safe and secure export of food produced in Ukraine through the Black Sea and unimpeded access to world markets for Russian food and fertilizers. We have worked in close coordination with all parties, including many of your governments. Thank you for your continued cooperation.
But even as we try to increase supplies, we must make the resources and fiscal space available now to the poorest countries and communities. The global financial system must use all the instruments at its disposal, with flexibility and understanding, to achieve this.
There is no solution to this financial crisis without a solution to the current crisis of economic inequality in the developing world. Which brings me to my third area of urgent multilateral action: the uneven recovery.
Many developing countries have suffered devastating economic losses during the pandemic, but lack access to funding for recovery. We need a New Global Deal to rebalance power and financial resources and enable developing countries to invest in the Sustainable Development Goals. The international debt architecture requires urgent reform. We need an operational debt relief and restructuring framework that takes vulnerability into account. We also need to consider changes in credit ratings and the issuance of special drawing rights.
And we need a serious effort to increase the number of countries that can produce Covid-19 vaccines, therapies and tests, sharing licenses and providing technical and financial support.
Our complex and interconnected world demands a more effective, more interconnected and more inclusive multilateralism. We must combine the strengths of existing institutions to jointly address humanity’s most pressing challenges. I put forward a number of ideas in my report Our common program.
An example: I have proposed biennial summits to bring together the G20, the United Nations Economic and Social Council, international financial institutions and my office as Secretary-General, to work towards a more sustainable, inclusive and resilient. We are working closely with Member States to deliver on this recommendation, as well as many other recommendations from Our Common Agenda.
I thank the members of the G20 for their support and contributions. Strengthening multilateralism is the only sustainable path to a peaceful, stable and prosperous world for all. The United Nations was founded on these aspirations. And the G20, which represents 80% of the world’s economic power, can make it happen.