UN Chief Highlights Need for Climate Action, Pandemic Response, in Commemorating 75th Anniversary of General Assembly
London – In his first major speech of the year, the UN Secretary-General underlined the need for global cooperation to address today’s challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.
António Guterres was speaking on Sunday during a virtual event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the first meeting of the UN General Assembly, which was held in London.
“The work of the General Assembly has helped to boost global health, literacy, and living standards, and to promote human rights and gender equality,” he said, reflecting on some of its accomplishments since then.
“Over the past 75 years, we have achieved more together than we could have apart,” he said in a video message for the online commemoration, which was co-hosted by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the United Kingdom.
While the international community can be proud of its collective accomplishments, the Secretary-General stressed the need for greater action in the face of pressing issues, including the pandemic.
Nearly two million COVID-19 deaths have been reported worldwide as of Sunday, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO).
Meanwhile, global response to the climate emergency has been “utterly inadequate,” he added.
Although the UN chief described the pandemic as “a human tragedy”, he emphasized that it can be an opportunity to achieve a more sustainable and equitable world, as outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
“The central objective of the United Nations this year is to build a global coalition for carbon neutrality by the middle of the century. We need meaningful cuts now, to reduce global emissions by 45 per cent by 2030, compared with 2010 levels,” he said.
UK Minister of State, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, acknowledged the collective concern over the damaging impact of climate change on the natural environment and global security.
“We all need to find new ways of doing things, so our progress is not at the expense of our planet but by us working together,” he said, recalling that the UK will co-host the latest global climate change conference, known as COP26, to be held in Glasgow, Scotland, in November.