‘Hold Developed States to Account for Climate Justice’, Secretary-General Urges in Remarks to Group of 77 Plus China Summit

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks to the Third South Summit of the Group of 77 and China, in Kampala today:

It is a pleasure to join you for this very important summit.

I thank the Government of Uganda for its hospitality and congratulate it on the leadership of the Group of 77 (G77) plus China.

Sixty years ago, recognizing the need for unity and solidarity in the face of common challenges, the G77 was born.  Over the decades, you have been an engine for South-South cooperation and development; lifted millions of people out of poverty; and provided a powerful voice for developing countries on the global stage.

Today, you are the largest grouping of the Global South, representing 80 per cent of the world’s population.  And your solidarity and partnership are essential to building a sustainable, peaceful and just world for all.

A world in which the Charter of the United Nations, international law and human rights prevail in global relations.

Halfway to the 2030 deadline for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), far from leaving no one behind, we are leaving half the world behind.

Progress on poverty and hunger is stalling and, in some countries, going into reverse.

Many G77 members are grappling with an economic hangover from the COVID-19 pandemic, crippling debts, a cost-of-living crisis and sky-high borrowing costs.

Hundreds of millions of people around the world, particularly women and girls, are living without the most basic respect for their human rights.  And the lack of jobs is generating enormous frustration among young people.

Climate disasters most of you did little to create are knocking chunks out of your economies and increasing people’s suffering.

Investment in sustainable development and climate action is slipping further out of reach.

And while South-South cooperation is strong and deepening, it does not replace the need for the respect of the commitments of the Global North — for sustained engagement to reduce poverty and inequality, support growth and build resilience in developing countries.

Digital technologies have enormous potential for good — but they are also inflaming inequalities.  The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warns that artificial intelligence could make things even worse.

And peace — the foundation of sustainable development — is breaking down amidst a climate of global impunity.

Around the world — from Sudan to Ukraine, the Middle East and beyond — wars are devastating lives, fuelling mass movements of people, disrupting global supply chains and threatening to set entire regions alight.

In Gaza, Israel’s military operations have spread massive destruction and killed civilians on a scale unprecedented during my time as Secretary-General, including more than 150 members of our own staff, following the horrific terror attacks by Hamas on 7 October.

This is heart-breaking and utterly unacceptable.

The Middle East is a tinderbox.  We must do all we can to prevent conflict igniting across the region. And that starts with an immediate humanitarian ceasefire to relieve the suffering in Gaza, allow humanitarian aid to reach everyone in need and facilitate the release of hostages, which should be immediate and unconditional.

The repeated refusal yesterday to accept the two-State solution for Israelis and Palestinians is totally unacceptable, as I told the summit of the Non-Aligned Movement.  The denial of the right to statehood for the Palestinian people would indefinitely prolong a conflict that has become a major threat to global peace and security; exacerbate polarization; and embolden extremists everywhere.

Righting our troubled world depends on effective global action.  Yet the international system is out of date, out of time and out of step, reflecting a bygone age when many of your countries were still colonized.

The United Nations Security Council is paralysed by geopolitical divisions.  And its composition does not reflect the reality of today’s world.  It must be reformed.

And the global financial system, including the Bretton Woods Institutions, has failed to provide a global safety net for developing countries in distress, as it was created after the Second World War in a totally different global economic situation.

Yet, amidst all this gloom, there is hope.  Last year, the SDG Summit issued a strong political declaration — thanks in large part to the advocacy and tenacity of G77 countries.  And this year we have an opportunity to build on that success.

The Summit of the Future, to be held in New York in September, is a generational opportunity.  It aims to reform and revitalize multilateralism so that it works for everyone, everywhere — and meets the challenges of today.  It is a chance to create the conditions for countries to achieve the SDGs.  To find consensus on frameworks to address new challenges.  And to build a better world for us all.

We rely on the G77 plus China to make the Summit of the Future a success.  To seize this opportunity and to find common solutions.

The Summit will consider deep reforms of the international financial architecture.  Financial institutions and frameworks created after the Second World War still largely correspond to the power relations and the global economy of that time.  They must be reformed so that they are truly universal; reflect with justice the realities of today; and are much more responsive to the needs of developing countries.

I have also proposed an SDG Stimulus of $500 billion a year in affordable, long-term finance for sustainable development and climate action in developing countries.  And multilateral development banks must be adequately capitalized and must change their business models to leverage far more private finance for developing countries at reasonable cost.

The SDG Stimulus calls for urgent action on debt, including breathing space for countries facing unbearable repayment schedules.  And it calls for the expansion of the contingency financing for countries in need, including through the rechannelling of special drawing rights.

Momentum is building.  All countries backed these proposals in the SDG Summit last year.  But now we must turn them into reality.

Beyond the Summit of the Future, I ask you to unite against climate catastrophe.

The very existence of some countries in this room depends on limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C — in line with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances.

I urge you to hold developed countries to account for climate justice, and for leading an equitable and just transition, based on the phaseout of fossil fuel and massive investment in renewable energy.  All financial commitments must be met.  Clarifying the delivery of the $100 billion, and doubling adaptation finance by 2025, are only starting points.

The loss and damage fund is a step forward and a testament to the power of the Global South.  But we must call for meaningful contributions that have not yet been announced.

And we must also advocate for an ambitious new finance goal for the future at the twenty-ninth UN Climate Change Conference.

And we must not forget that the just and equitable energy transition includes producing and trading critical minerals in a way that is fair, sustainable and provides maximum benefit to developing countries. They must be more than simple exporters of raw materials.

New technologies can turbocharge progress toward the SDGs. Our proposed Global Digital Compact aims to ensure that in a new technological era, no one is left behind. And I hope it will be agreed at the Summit of the Future.

And the High-Level Body on Artificial Intelligence that I created, which includes several experts from G77 countries and is balanced 50 per cent North and 50 per cent South, has already made preliminary recommendations on global artificial intelligence governance, including the objective of accelerating the Sustainable Development Goals.

The new Scientific Advisory Board is also working to ensure scientific breakthroughs are shared equally for the benefit of all.  And I praise the efforts done by the presidency of Cuba to put science and technology in the centre of G77 concerns.

I encourage you to engage in all these efforts.

The twenty-first century cannot replicate the vast inequalities of the twentieth.

Do not let new rules for new technologies be written by the rich for the rich.

Let us face it:  those that benefit most from the present global governance system are unlikely to lead its reform.  So, momentum for change must come from you.  I urge you to keep driving these efforts forward.

We have a chance to cultivate a just, peaceful and prosperous future, where no one is left behind.  But for that, a lot needs to be changed and reformed.  Together, let’s unite and fight to make that a reality.

For information media. Not an official record.