Cooperation, Unity Key to Managing Climate Crisis, Technological Challenges, Secretary-General Tells Shanghai Cooperation Organization

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, in Trinidad and Tobago and online today:

Thank you for this opportunity to address the Shanghai Cooperation Council.  I am sending you my greetings from the Caribbean, where during the day I attended the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Summit.

Your Summit takes place amid growing global challenges and risks. But, at a time when the world needs to work together, divisions are growing, and geopolitical tensions are rising. These differences have been aggravated by several factors:  diverging approaches to global crises; contrasting views on non-traditional security threats; and of course, all the consequences of COVID-19 and the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine.

But, today’s global challenges, from the climate crisis to growing inequality and the governance of new technology, can only be resolved through dialogue and cooperation.  And the only way that can happen is together.  Allow me to point to three areas where I believe we can and must seek and unite for solutions.

First, the climate crisis.  Unless humanity acts together, we are heading for disaster.  We need to team up — and speed up.  I have proposed a Climate Solidarity Pact, under which big emitters will make extra efforts to cut emissions while developed countries support emerging economies for the benefit of all.

The Acceleration Agenda I’ve suggested calls for developed countries to reach net-zero as close as possible to 2040, and emerging economies as close as possible to 2050.  It urges developed countries to phase out coal by 2030 and developing countries by 2040, and calls for the delivery of $100 billion to developing countries, the doubling of adaptation finance and the operationalization of the loss and damage fund. 

Climate action is the fight of our lives, and Shanghai Cooperation Organization members have an important role to play.

Second, humanity is entering a new technological era — completely unprepared.  Artificial intelligence, autonomous weapons and bio-engineering are three areas where governance capacities are falling far behind.  We have therefore proposed a Global Digital Compact to bring together Governments, regional organizations, the private sector and civil society.  And I will soon appoint a High-Level Advisory Group on Artificial Intelligence.

I am open to any initiative by Member States to create an international agency for [artificial intelligence].  Shanghai Cooperation Organization members are global leaders in many of these areas and we count on your engagement and support.

Third, inequalities within and between countries are eroding trust.  Developing economies have not recovered from the economic impact of the pandemic.  Deep in debt and facing sky-high interest rates, many have no hope of investing in sustainable development and climate action. The pandemic showed that the global financial architecture is outdated, dysfunctional and unjust.  It is not fulfilling its core function as a global safety net.

The global trade system is also contributing to inequalities.  Market restrictions, border closures are aggravating risks.  The World Bank estimates that the fragmentation of the global trading system could cost the global economy $1.4 trillion.  The solution to unjust globalization is not to reduce globalization.  It is to reduce injustice.

We must work for fair globalization, climate justice and reforms that bring equity and balance to both the Bretton Woods institutions and the United Nations Security Council.  We are calling for deep reforms to make global frameworks more representative of developing and emerging economies, and more responsive to their needs.

And I am also calling for an immediate Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Stimulus to increase liquidity, reduce the debt burden on developing economies, and get the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development on track.  We need more inclusive institutions at every level, including through greater representation of women and young people, and the voices of civil society, the business community, the media and others.

At the national level, we can only reduce inequality and build resilient communities through a strong focus on social protection and jobs.  We need a new social contract based on respect for all human rights — civil, cultural, economic, political and social.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is well-placed to facilitate dialogue on regional peace and security in Eurasia — and to counter violent extremism and terrorism.  I thank Shanghai Cooperation Organization member States for your important role in supporting the Afghan people during very difficult times.

And I welcome the commitment of Afghanistan’s neighbours to a peaceful, united, sovereign and independent Afghanistan with an inclusive, broad-based Government.  A Government that will safeguard the rights of all its people, particularly women and girls, and prevent the country from becoming a centre for terrorism and violent extremism.

The growing membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which now encompasses almost half of the world’s population, is matched by your growing influence on the global stage.  I congratulate you on this success.  And I urge you to meet the new challenges and responsibilities that go with it.

I welcome your commitment to deepen cooperation between our organizations, and count on your support for multilateral initiatives to manage crises, reduce risks and reform outdated systems and frameworks.  I urge your strong engagement in preparations for the SDG Summit and the Climate Ambition Summit in September, and the Summit of the Future next year in the United Nations.

Let us work together for global solutions that advance peace and security, sustainable development and human rights for all.

For information media. Not an official record.