World Must Match Africa’s Ambitions with Resources to End Pandemic, Develop Bold Climate Action, Secretary-General Tells Aswan Forum for Peace, Development
Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks to the Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development, in Aswan today:
As you gather for this forum, the people of Africa are facing unprecedented and multidimensional crises: an economic crisis sparked by COVID-19 and deepened by the skyrocketing price of food, fuel and fertilizers resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine; a crisis of unequal access to vaccines to protect people from the virus; a financial crisis, with countries unable to access debt relief or finances to recover; a crisis of instability, terrorism and conflict; and — as this year’s theme reminds us — a climate crisis.
Africa contributes just 3 per cent of global greenhouse‑gas emissions. But, many countries are paying an outsized price: in droughts, hunger and ruined crops; in the erosion and erasure of coastal communities; in 6 out of every 10 Africans unprotected by early warning systems for climate disasters; and in a lack of support to make the transition to the just, sustainable, and job-creating economies of the future.
We need action now. We need to end the COVID-19 pandemic, with Governments, global and regional organizations and pharmaceutical companies working better together to deliver and locally produce tests, vaccines and treatments.
We must expand African countries’ access to financing and debt relief, so they can invest in job-creation, poverty reduction, expanded social protection, food security and green growth. We need to silence the guns across Africa and address conflict’s many roots by tackling inequalities and discrimination, and strengthening governance, institutions, public services and justice systems.
And we need bold climate action. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has identified Africa as a global hotspot for the climate crisis. Breaching the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C goal would be disastrous.
Many African Union member States have come forward with ambitious nationally determined contributions, clearly identified adaptation needs and adopted the African Union Green Stimulus Programme. The world must match Africa’s ambitions with resources, financing and technologies to accelerate the transition from coal and other fossil fuels to renewables.
I am calling for a five-point proposal to achieve a renewable energy revolution: making renewables technology freely available as a global public good; doing the same for the components and raw materials required; reforming bureaucracies to encourage investment accelerate grid modernization, fast-track approvals for renewables projects, and provide services and support so all countries can benefit; shifting subsidies away from fossil fuels and towards supporting vulnerable communities as they build green economies; and tripling public and private investments in renewables to at least $4 trillion a year.
Despite the continent’s enormous renewable energy potential, just 2 per cent of renewable energy investments have gone to Africa over the last decade. Countries must arrive in Egypt for COP27 [twenty-seventh Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] determined with clear plans to close this financing gap.
And they should support the work of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to ensure that every person in the world has access to early warning systems for disasters over the next five years. Across all these areas, the United Nations stands with Africa as we shape a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable future for all Africans.