The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has welcomed India's G20 Presidency’s focus on “One Earth, One Family, One Future”. He wanted the G20 leaders to show leadership in two priority areas – climate change and sustainable development goals (SDGs).
On a visit to New Delhi to participate in the two-day 18th G20 Heads of State and Government Summit that begins on September 9, Guterres says he hopes that “India’s presidency of the G20 will help lead to the kind of transformative change our world so desperately needs, in line with the repeated commitment of India to act on the behalf of Global South and its determination to pursue the development agenda”.
Addressing a press conference on the eve of the Summit, the Secretary-General says while the human population is indeed one global family, it resembles a rather dysfunctional one today. “Divisions are growing, tensions are flaring up, and trust is eroding – which together raise the spectre of fragmentation, and ultimately, confrontation,” he says.
According to Guterres, the global financial architecture is outdated, dysfunctional, and unfair and requires deep, structural reform. The same can be said about the United Nations Security Council too, he adds.
He calls for effective international institutions rooted in 21st-century realities and based on the UN Charter and international law and says that is why he has been advocating for bold steps to make those global institutions truly universal and representative of today’s realities, and more responsive to the needs of developing economies.
Pointing out that the climate crisis is worsening dramatically, he says the collective response is lacking in ambition, credibility, and urgency. “Wars and conflicts are multiplying – but efforts to advance peace are faltering. New technologies are raising red flags – but actions to contain the risks remain too slow and too piecemeal. Poverty, hunger, and inequalities are growing – but global solidarity is missing in action. I have come to the G20 with a simple but urgent appeal: we cannot go on like this. We must come together and act together for the common good,” Guterres says.
Highlighting the need for the G20 leadership to prioritise climate action, he says the climate crisis is spiralling out of control and G20 countries are responsible for 80% of global emissions. “Half-measures will not prevent full climate breakdown. Leadership means: keeping the 1.5 degree goal alive, rebuilding trust based on climate justice, and advancing a just and equitable transition to a green economy,” he says.
Highlighting the need for G20 leadership to show leadership in saving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), he suggests a series of measures including an SDG Stimulus of at least $500 billion per year and an effective debt workout mechanism to support payment suspensions, longer lending terms and lower rates on fairer terms to developing countries in distress. He also calls for meaningful capitalisation and changes in the business model of Multilateral Development Banks to be able to massively leverage private finance at a reasonable cost to developing countries.
These actions can catalyse SDG progress and help developing economies invest in key transitions across energy, food systems, digital, education, health, decent jobs, and social protection, he says.