At Handover Ceremony of Chairmanship, Secretary-General Calls Group of 77 Developing Countries and China Multilateralism in Action

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks at the Handover Ceremony of the Chairmanship of the Group of 77 “developing countries” and China, in New York today:

I commend Ambassador [Munir] Akram’s skilful stewardship of this group over the last year, including in the dramatic period of the floods in Pakistan.  And I congratulate Cuba as it assumes the Chairmanship for 2023.  I look forward to working with you over the coming year to continue placing the needs of developing countries front and centre in the global agenda.

In many ways, the Group of 77 and China reflects the very purpose of the United Nations itself.  Our Organization sprang from the belief that peace and progress for all were best supported by collaboration, rather than conflict.  By dialogue, rather than division.

Your group is an inspiring example of multilateralism in action.  Year in and year out, you stand together to discuss, debate and amplify global solutions to realize the better, fairer and more sustainable future every country deserves.

We appreciate your steadfast support of the United Nations and our work with countries to make progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.  We value your insights and ideas to strengthen ECOSOC [Economic and Social Council] and the work of the General Assembly’s Committees.  And I appreciate your support for the reforms that are taking place since 2017, and for the report on Our Common Agenda.

But, dear friends, as we begin 2023, we must be brutally honest.  Our world faces a series of difficult and deeply intertwined challenges.  Rising poverty, widening inequalities, a persistent pandemic and a looming global recession.  Increased unemployment — especially among young people — made worse by the erosion of social protections and deteriorating work conditions.

Food, energy and cost-of-living crises exacerbated by the war in Ukraine.  Mounting sovereign debt and a morally bankrupt global financial system that undermines recovery in so many developing countries.  Climate chaos, biodiversity loss, conflicts and human rights abuses.  And a world that continues to deny women and girls their fundamental rights across every walk of life.

While each challenge is different, they are all felt most keenly in the countries you represent.  In many cases, we can draw a straight line between the hardships suffered by your people and the continued failure of developed countries and global institutions to support developing countries on multiple fronts.  And in every case, these are challenges that could actually be solved by standing as one in the world, in solidarity.

As we start this new year, I am determined to continue highlighting the need for concerted action to support developing countries and our common future.  And to do so guided by the spirit of collaboration and common purpose that has defined the United Nations — and your group — from the very start.

First, we need to re-energize the global economy through massive support to the developing world.  Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals has been thrown dramatically off-track.  Rescuing the SDGs [Sustainable Development Goals] means ensuring that developing countries receive massive support to reduce poverty and hunger, and invest in systems like health care, education, social protection, gender equality and renewable energy.

We cannot leave low or middle-income countries to fend for themselves.  But, the current global financial system is not fit for purpose.  It is a broken system favouring wealthy countries and penalizing less-wealthy ones.  In particular, vulnerable middle-income countries are routinely denied the debt relief and concessional financing they need.

I will continue urging leaders and international financial institutions to join forces and develop creative ways to ensure that developing countries can access debt relief and concessional financing when they need it most.  This must include a re-allocation of unused special drawing rights according to the needs of developing countries.

And I will continue pressing for an SDG Stimulus Package to help Governments of the Global South invest in the systems that support development and resilience.  Because in an interconnected global economy, when developing countries win, all countries win.

Second, we need real, credible and ambitious climate action.  Reminders of the climate emergency are everywhere.  Floods, droughts, wildfires and heatwaves have struck countries across the world, hitting the poorest and most vulnerable hardest.

Climate change is worsening other complex emergencies.  Mass displacement, ruined crops and famines, rising seas, horrific biodiversity and ecosystem loss, competition for scarce resources — including water.  At a time when we must reduce emissions, humanity instead is on the verge of racing past the 1.5°C limit a liveable future requires.

So, 2023 must be focused on two goals — justice and ambition.  We need justice for those who did so little to cause the crisis.  An important step towards justice — thanks in great part to the leadership of the [Group of 77] — was the decision at COP27 [twenty-seventh Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] to establish a loss and damage fund.

Justice means turning this decision into effective reality.  Justice means the delivery of the $100 billion commitment by the developed world.  Justice means a clear and credible road map to double adaptation finance.  Justice means a successful second replenishment of the Green Climate Fund.  And justice means ending the war on nature and supporting developing countries in protecting the ecosystems and species that call them home.

2023 must also be focused on ambition.  Ambition to close the emissions gap.  And ambition to phase-out coal and accelerate the renewables revolution.  At the G20 [Group of 20] Summit, I also called for a Climate Solidarity Pact in which all countries make extra efforts this decade to keep the 1.5°C limit alive.

And for that, developed countries must provide — together with international financial institutions and the private sector — the financial and technical assistance that is needed to help major emerging economies accelerate their renewable energy transition.

The Climate Ambition Summit in September will be a moment to increase the pace of change.  Across all of these areas — from climate and water, to ecosystem preservation — the [Group of 77] has been a strong and active voice, and I thank you for your leadership.

And third — we need to use the many global gatherings this year to re-energize progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.  From the United Nations Water Conference and the Least Developed Countries Conference in March, to the midterm review of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction in May and a series of important global health meetings, to the high-level political forum in July.

In particular, September’s SDG Summit will be critical.  I’m calling on all leaders to come to the Summit and to be prepared to share their vision, their ideas and their commitments to realize the Goals.  This includes how they will forge partnerships with the private sector and civil society to summon the finance and investments required to help all countries reach their SDG commitments.  And I encourage your active engagement as we move forward on Our Common Agenda — including as we prepare for the 2024 Summit of the Future.

Throughout, we need your active support as we make the United Nations as effective and responsive as it can be.  Recent reforms have helped us reduce bureaucracy and strengthen our focus on mandate-delivery and country needs.  And your support of our annual programme budget cycle has improved the accuracy of our resource estimates and our ability to adjust programme planning in the face of new mandates and fast-moving global crises.

As always, our mandate implementation will greatly depend on the early and full payment by Member States of their assessed contributions.  Your decision to increase the level of our Working Capital Fund in 2023 will help mitigate the impact of cash shortages on programme delivery and operational requirements.

This year, I hope that Member States will be able to reach agreement on my proposals for more predictable and sustainable funding for the Peacebuilding Fund.  And of course, we are working hard to advance gender parity and equitable geographical representation in our global workforce.

Throughout this work, your group’s engagement will be critical to me, to our organization, and to the hundreds of millions of people living throughout the developing world.  Please be assured that in me, you have a champion of the [Group of 77] and the people you represent.  Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.