Activities of the Secretary-General in India, 18-20 October

The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres arrived in Mumbai from New York late on Tuesday, 18 October.

On Wednesday, he attended a tribute to the victims of the 26/11 attacks at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Mumbai.  After the tribute, the Secretary-General participated in a United Nations Day Public Lecture on the partnership between India and the United Nations and strengthening South-South Cooperation.  The event also celebrated the seventy-fifth anniversary of India’s independence.

In his remarks at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, the Secretary-General noted that India is the biggest provider of military and police personnel to United Nations missions — including the first all-women United Nations police contingent to a peacekeeping mission.  He added that as a member of the Security Council for the past two years, India has contributed significantly to promoting multilateral solutions and addressing crises.

The Secretary-General pointed out that as the home of one-sixth of humanity and the world’s largest generation of young people, India can make or break the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.  He emphasized that he counts on India’s support in mobilizing G20 countries around debt relief and also encouraged India’s engagement in deep reform of the global financial architecture, which favours the richest countries at the expense of the rest.

The Secretary-General urged India to become a global superpower in renewables technology, and a manufacturing hub to fuel this revolution around the world. He also urged the students participating in the lecture to use their considerable talents to tackle the planetary emergency we face, and respectfully urged them not to work for those who are wrecking our climate.  See Press Release SG/SM/21543.

Following the lecture, the Secretary-General had a brief meeting with Dia Mirza, a United Nations Environment Goodwill Ambassador and a Secretary-General’s Advocate for Sustainable Development Goals.

The Secretary-General then headed to Vadodara, where at the airport, he was received with a cultural performance, before taking off to Kevadia, his next destination.

In the evening, in Kevadia, the Secretary-General had a meeting with the Minister of External Affairs of India, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.

On Thursday morning, the last day of his visit to India, the Secretary-General met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and also participated in the launch of the Lifestyles for the Environment initiative, which took place at the Statue of Unity, in Ekta Nagar, Narmada.

In his remarks, the Secretary-General emphasized that in these perilous times for the planet, we need all hands on deck.  He stressed that all of us, as individuals and communities, can — and must — be part of the solution of protecting our planet and our collective future.

After all, the Secretary-General added, overconsumption is at the root of the triple planetary emergency of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. We are using the equivalent of 1.6 Earths to maintain our lifestyles.

The world counts on Group of 20 (G20) economies to lead the way in progressively ending the use of coal by 2030 in Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries and by 2040 in non-OECD countries, he said.  He emphasized that a quantum leap in support of adaptation in developing countries and serious and measurable progress in loss and damage are essential conditions to re-establish trust between developing and developed countries.  See Press Release SG/SM/21546.

After the event, the Secretary-General headed to Modhera, the first solar village in India, with a population of about 6,400.  He interacted with the community and saw first-hand the impact that solar power is having on the daily life of the community.

Speaking to the media, the Secretary-General noted that one thousand years before, the ancestors of those that live in the village had built the marvellous Temple of Sun, recognizing that the origin of all energy on Earth comes from the sun.  Unfortunately, he said, we have not been deserving this gift, and in the last decades, we have been in war with nature.

The Secretary-General added that in the ancient Temple of Sun, there is a new Temple of Sun, now based on solar energy.  He expressed his deep gratitude to the people of this village, the state and India for their commitment to rescuing the planet, making peace with nature and defeating climate change.

Following the visit, the Secretary-General returned to Mumbai, from where he departed to Hanoi, Viet Nam.

For information media. Not an official record.