World Has Moral Obligation to Ensure Future Generations Not Burdened by Mountain of Debt on Broken Planet, Secretary-General Tells G20 Summit
22 November 2020 SG/SM/20440
Following are UN Secretary General António Guterres’ remarks, as delivered, to the Group of 20 (G20) Riyadh Summit Session II: Building an Inclusive, Sustainable and Resilient Future, today:
Our greatest defence against COVID 19 is solidarity and cooperation. In this context, G20 leadership is vital in three key areas.
First, halting the further spread of the pandemic. Yesterday, I was encouraged by the broad recognition that vaccines – as well as tests and treatments – must be global public goods, available and affordable for all.
But I want to repeat the call on G20 members to support the ACT Accelerator and its COVAX facility. There is a financial gap of $28 billion and we need $4.2 billion of that immediately for mass manufacturing, procurement and distribution around the world.
Second, mobilizing the resources to build forward better. The initiative I took with the Prime Ministers of Canada and Jamaica on Financing for Development in the Era of COVID 19 and Beyond puts forward an array of concrete policy options. I urge you to consider these in shaping solutions. There will be no different and better future without stronger action now to provide the necessary liquidity and tackle the debt emergency of the most vulnerable.
It means strengthening the firepower of the IMF [International Monetary Forum] and other international financial institutions in support of the developing world, including through a new issuance of special drawing rights and the reallocation of unused SDRs [special drawing rights]. It means broadening the eligibility of the G20 debt initiatives to all vulnerable developing countries, including the middle income ones that need it. It means building a global architecture to enhance debt transparency and sustainability.
Third, aligning recovery efforts with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change. To build an inclusive, resilient and sustainable post COVID world, public spending must be linked with achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
And we have a moral obligation to ensure that the trillions of dollars for COVID 19 recovery – money that we are borrowing from future generations – does not leave them burdened by a mountain of debt on a broken planet. The recovery must help to reconcile humankind and nature on all fronts – from climate to biodiversity, from protecting the oceans to stopping deforestation and land degradation.
A growing number of countries have pledged carbon neutrality by 2050: good news. By early next year, countries representing more than 65 per cent of global emissions – and more than 70 per cent of the world economy – are very likely to have made ambitious commitments to carbon neutrality. I urge all G20 members to join the global coalition for net zero greenhouse gas emissions – and act now to set a clear direction.
I firmly believe we all must put a price on carbon. End fossil fuel subsidies. Stop construction of new coal power plants. Invest in resilient infrastructure. Shift the tax burden from income to carbon, from taxpayers to polluters. Ensure mandatory financial reporting on exposure to climate risks. Integrate the goal of carbon neutrality into all economic and fiscal policies and decisions. Implement the necessary measures – such as social protection and reskilling – for a just transition towards decent jobs. And meaningful increases to the support to developing countries for resilience and adaptation.
The pandemic has revealed the enormous fragilities of our world; the absence of effective universal health care, shocking inequalities that undermine the social cohesion of our societies, the climate disruption and lawlessness in the cyberspace.
We must be humble. We must recognize these fragilities and make sure our recovery strategies are designed to overcome them. This is critical to achieving a resilient, inclusive and sustainable future, where women and youth are empowered, and all people can enjoy the full respect of their human rights on a healthy planet. We can only get there together, committed to an inclusive multilateralism based on international law and the values of the UN Charter.