United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday called for immediate attention to three global emergencies after listing a long string of threats and challenges the world is facing.
“Among the challenges we face, there are three global emergencies that demand immediate attention,” the UN chief told the press conference held at the UN headquarters in New York.
The secretary-general said that the first global emergency that needs immediate attention is the “distribution of vaccines for COVID-19.”
Guterres said that more than 70 million doses have been administered, but less than 20,000 of these were on the African continent.
“A global immunity gap puts everyone at risk,” he said.
“Vaccine nationalism is an economic as well as a moral failure,” he said. “While every country has the right – and the duty – to protect its own people, no country can afford to neglect the rest of the world.”
“We must close the funding gap; ramp-up vaccine production by making licenses widely available and sharing technology; and get doses into the arms of all who need them – starting with health workers and those most at risk around the world,” said the secretary-general, adding that “we need a global vaccination campaign to deal with a global pandemic.”
“The second area for urgent action is financial support for all countries that need it,” said Guterres.
“In today’s world, self-interest cannot be separated from solidarity. The global economy is made up of an intricate web of transactions between developed and developing countries,” he said.
“While the pandemic continues to disrupt supply chains, developed (economies) will not make a full recovery,” added the UN chief.
The top UN official warned that for a fast and full recovery, the developed world should not only share vaccines equitably; it should support developing economies by ensuring continued liquidity, including through the issuance of Special Drawing Rights, and expanding debt relief to all developing countries and Middle-income countries in need of it.
Guterres said the third global emergency is the climate crisis.
“The recovery from the pandemic must embrace renewable energy and green and resilient infrastructure,” he said. “We have an opportunity to end our senseless war on nature and start the healing process.”
“At five minutes to midnight, governments are finally starting to listen to scientists, businesses, cities, academia and in particular, the young people who have been global leaders on this issue,” said the UN chief, noting that “we need to build on that momentum.”
Guterres underscored that the central objective of the United Nations for 2021 is to build a global coalition for carbon neutrality by 2050. “Every country, city, financial institution and company needs to adopt credible plans for transitioning to net zero emissions by 2050, and take decisive action now to put themselves on the right path.”
“Countries must review their Nationally Determined Contributions before COP26 (the UN Climate Change Conference) in Glasgow to cut global greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent by 2030 compared with 2010 levels,” he said.