Skip to main content

Addressing Americas Summit, Secretary-General Urges Closing Gap  between Potential of Region, Daily Struggles Faced by Its People

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres remarks at the Summit of the Americas, in Los Angeles today:

President [Joseph R.] Biden, thank you very much for your invitation to be here today in Los Angeles.  Like the Americas itself, the City of Angels both embodies and celebrates the rich gift of diversity.

Today, it is more important than ever to bring the countries of the Americas closer together, and help deliver the prosperous, democratic and equitable societies that people expect.  However, the challenges loom large.

It is essential to close the gap between the great potential of this region and the daily struggles faced by the people who call it home.  Across the region, we see countries that continue to be weighed down by a toxic brew of inequality, poverty, crime, insecurity and mistrust.

COVID-19 has hit this region hard, reversing hard-won development gains.  Climate change threatens to erase entire communities — from small island developing States in the Caribbean, to the fires that have levelled communities here in California.

The global consequences of the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine are rippling across a world already struggling with rising commodity prices, food insecurity and high levels of poverty and inequality.

Inflation is growing, debt is spiralling and many countries lack the fiscal space and financial support to invest in recovery.  And some middle-income countries in desperate need are considered ineligible for support from international financial institutions.

This stems from an over-reliance on narrow measures of progress that count as production of richness the activities that are destroying our planet and ignore the vulnerabilities to external shocks — and I refer to gross domestic product (GDP) or the gross domestic income that are far from translating the realities of our societies.

In this context, people see violence and insecurity that are driving them to flee their homes and their countries.  They see increasing levels of gender violence.  More fundamentally, people risk losing their faith in their Governments and in their institutions.  They see frequently crime and corruption going unpunished.

They see a broken global financial system that benefits the wealthy and punishes the poor.  They see lies, misinformation and hate speech going viral, sowing divisions, mistrust and hatred.  And they hear the voices of democracy drowned out by rising authoritarian and nationalist sentiments, giving false promises of security and prosperity.

This Summit provides an opportunity to address these challenges.  This includes rescuing the Sustainable Development Goals and investing in all the systems that support people — from health and decent work to social protection systems and vaccines for all.

It includes investments in quality education to all.  It includes reforming the global financial system, so all countries can access the financing and debt relief they need to invest in recovery.  It includes ending our addiction to fossil fuels, safeguarding biodiversity, and increasing financial support to the transition and adaptation of developing countries.

It includes a new look at migration, and ensuring that people are welcomed and protected, and given the safety, dignity and support that all people deserve, in keeping with the Global Compact for Migration.  We need enhanced cooperation among countries of origin, transit and destination, with human rights at its core.

Justice systems that are impartial and impervious to corruption.  New efforts to tackle crime and violence.  Democratic systems that protect human rights defenders and truly reflect the voice of the people.  And a renewed multilateralism that can gather all nations of the world together in search of common solutions to the common challenges we face.

Every step of the way, you can count on the steadfast support of the United Nations.

Let’s work together to support people from across the hemispheric family.  Let’s live up to the Americas’ full promise and potential.

For information media. Not an official record.