Welcoming Pact, Secretary-General Tells Summit of the Future Ministerial Meeting ‘We Cannot Inch towards Agreement While the World Races towards a Precipice’

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks to the ministerial meeting on the Summit of the Future, in New York today:

My report on Our Common Agenda called for renewed trust and solidarity between peoples, countries and generations.  It proposed a reformed multilateralism to reflect and address today’s political and economic realities.

Today, the need for such reforms is clearer than ever.  We face a host of consequential and even existential risks, without the multilateral systems needed to manage them.  We are moving towards a multipolar world.

Multipolarity is creating new opportunities for different countries to lead on the global stage.  But, history teaches that multipolarity without strong multilateral institutions creates serious risks.  It could result in even greater geostrategic tensions, chaotic competition and further fragmentation.

Multilateral institutions will only survive if they are truly universal.  The Summit of the Future is a unique opportunity to help rebuild trust and bring outdated multilateral institutions and frameworks into line with today’s world, based on equity and solidarity.  But, it is more than an opportunity.  It is an essential means of reducing risks and creating a safer and more peaceful world.

I welcome your agreement that the Summit of the Future will adopt an intergovernmentally negotiated Pact for the Future, reaffirming the United Nations Charter; reinvigorating multilateralism; boosting implementation of existing commitments; and agreeing on solutions to new challenges.

I also welcome your decision to work towards a Pact covering five baskets of issues: sustainable development and financing for development; international peace and security; science, technology and innovation, and digital cooperation; youth and future generations; [and] transforming global governance.

I commend your pledge to advance human rights, the empowerment of women and girls, and acceleration towards the Sustainable Development Goals.  You, the Member States, will decide what to take forward within these five groups of issues into the Pact for the Future.

We have shared a series of concrete proposals for your consideration in eleven policy briefs. These proposals cover:  A New Agenda for Peace that would reinvigorate our collective security framework; a global financial system that works for all; economic metrics that go beyond GDP [gross domestic product] to underpin policy decisions; a compact that would harness the benefits and manage the risks of digital technologies and artificial intelligence; a voluntary code of conduct on information integrity online; new protocols to manage global shocks more effectively; stronger cooperation in outer space; a transformation of education systems; the meaningful inclusion of young people in global decision‑making processes; ways to safeguard the future and uphold the rights of future generations; and a UN 2.0, better equipped to support Member States through the use of data, digital tools, innovation, foresight and behavioural science.

Our proposals deepen the vision of Our Common Agenda, turning the original recommendations into concrete, achievable steps towards fairer, more sustainable, universal and effective global systems.  I also welcome the contributions of the High-Level Advisory Board on Effective Multilateralism, which deserve your serious consideration and I thank the Co-Chair for the excellent work that was done by the group.

And I commend the progress that has already been made on many of the mandated Our Common Agenda recommendations, through the debates convened last year by the President of the General Assembly; the establishment of the UN Youth Office; the five transformative measures for gender equality; the new vision for the rule of law; the Global Accelerator on jobs and social protection; and plans for the proposed open Biennial Summit among members of the G20 [Group of 20], ECOSOC [Economic and Social Council], leaders of international financial institutions and myself as Secretary-General of the United Nations.

The Pact for the Future will be your contract with each other and with your people.  It represents your pledge to use all the tools at your disposal at the global level to solve problems, before those problems overwhelm us.  The challenges we face are universal. They require universal solutions and cannot be solved through small groupings of states or coalitions of the willing.

The United Nations is the only forum where this can happen.  It will also be important to welcome the contributions of civil society, academia, the private sector and other important stakeholders.

The stakes are high.  A substantive, comprehensive Pact for the Future has the potential to turbocharge implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals in line with the declaration of the SDG Summit. It will help to determine whether we meet the serious challenges of today and tomorrow, or continue down the path of social, financial, political and environmental breakdown.  Let me stress that this Pact will fully complement and reinforce our efforts to achieve the SDGs and create a more peaceful, sustainable and equitable world today. 

But, let’s be clear.  Time is not on our side.  In the two years since my report on Our Common Agenda, new conflicts have emerged and geopolitical tensions are higher than ever.  We have crossed a new Rubicon with generative AI. We are seeing the signs of climate breakdown.  Billions of people around the world have been hit by the cost-of-living crisis.  And more countries than ever are struggling with debt distress or default.

We cannot inch towards agreement while the world races towards a precipice.  We must bring a new urgency to our efforts, and a shared sense of common purpose.  Let us draw inspiration from recent global agreements on global biodiversity, on the high seas, on climate loss and damage, and on the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.

Reaching agreement will be difficult.  But, it is possible.  I urge you to redouble your efforts over the coming year to ensure that the Pact for the Future is ambitious and transformative.

The Summit of the Future must also be a moment to reinforce the connection between global governance and the people of the world.  The Pact for the Future must reflect the priorities and concerns of women and men struggling to feed their families, and communities bearing the brunt of the climate emergency.  It must offer solutions for a better, fairer, more peaceful and more sustainable world. Above all, it must demonstrate that multilateralism can deliver for everyone, everywhere.  Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.