Government & Politics

Transcript of Secretary-General’s press conference at G20 Summit

Ladies and gentlemen of the media,

 

This G20 summit comes at crucial time.

 

Our world is facing the most pivotal, precarious moment in generations.

 

People everywhere are getting hit from every direction – battered by runaway climate change and squeezed by a cost-of-living crisis.

 

Geopolitical divisions are triggering new conflicts and making old ones even more difficult to resolve.

 

The G20 is ground zero for bridging divisions and finding answers to these crises and more.

 

First, climate – the defining challenge of our age.

 

I have just come from the COP27 Summit in Sharm el-Sheikh.

 

The goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees is slipping away.

 

We are dangerously close to tipping points at which climate chaos could become irreversible.

 

Science tells us that global heating beyond that limit poses an existential threat to all life on earth.

 

But global emissions, and temperatures, continue to rise.

 

I tend to agree that insanity consists in doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. It is obvious we need a new approach.

 

And so, I have proposed a historic pact between developed and emerging economies – a Climate Solidarity Pact that combines the capacities and resources of developed and emerging economies for the benefit of all.

 

G20 countries are responsible for 80 per cent of global emissions.

 

G20 leaders can make or break the Climate Solidarity Pact that I intend to present again tomorrow.

 

Under this pact, they would make extra efforts this decade to keep the limit of 1.5 degrees alive.

 

Wealthier countries and International Financial Institutions would provide financial and technical assistance to help the emerging economies accelerate their renewable energy transition.

 

The Climate Solidarity Pact can save lives, livelihoods, and our planet.

 

It can help end dependence on fossil fuels while providing universal, affordable, sustainable energy for all.

 

Second, the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.

 

The SDGs are issuing an SOS.

 

Developing countries cannot access the finance they need to reduce poverty and hunger, and invest in sustainable development.

 

I therefore urge G20 economies to adopt an SDG stimulus package that will provide governments of the Global South with investments and liquidity, and offer debt relief and restructuring.

 

This will enable emerging economies to invest in healthcare, education, gender equality and renewable energy. To invest in their people and rescue the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

 

The SDG Stimulus is a minimal and necessary step to ease the food and energy crises and prevent further suffering and hardship down the line.

 

G20 countries are the world’s most powerful economies, with a majority on the boards of Multilateral Development Banks, and so they can and must make it happen.

 

Ladies and gentlemen of the media,

 

My interventions at this Summit will focus on the food and energy crises, and on the digital transformation of our economies and societies.

 

My message on food is that we need urgent action to prevent famine and hunger in a growing number of places around the world.

 

The Black Sea Grain Initiative, and efforts to ensure Russian food and fertilizers can flow to global markets, are essential to global food security.

 

The Black Sea Grain Initiative has already helped to stabilize markets and bring food prices down.

 

Every fraction of a percent eases hunger and save lives.

 

Meanwhile, we must do more to ease the global fertilizer crunch.

 

Fertilizer prices are up to three times higher than before the pandemic, and we are working to end all obstacles to the free flow of Russian food and fertilizers to global markets.

 

Our engagement with the European Union, the United States and the United Kingdom has helped remove many of the impediments to market access.

 

These products are not subject to sanctions, but suffer indirect impacts.

 

And so, we are working nonstop to resolve all remaining issues, chiefly around payments, and to renew the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

 

On energy, the war in Ukraine has clearly demonstrated the dangers of our addiction to fossil fuels. It is the best possible argument for the fastest possible transition to renewable energy.

 

And on digital transformation: the world is looking for leadership.

 

Powerful tech companies are running roughshod over human rights and personal privacy and providing platforms for deadly disinformation, in pursuit of profits.

 

Let’s be clear: disinformation kills. Undermining public health kills and these are life-and-death issues.

 

We urgently need global guardrails on technology, and I will suggest a way forward based on a Global Digital Compact for an open, free, secure and inclusive internet.

 

A Compact to deliver on universal connectivity; on a human-centred digital space that protects free speech and privacy; and on the safe and responsible use of data.

 

I am also calling for a global code of conduct that promotes integrity in public communications and promotes information literacy.

Ladies and gentlemen of the media,

 

Today, as we welcome the eight billionth member of our growing human family, we must think ahead. By 2050, the world’s population will be approaching ten billion.

 

Action – or inaction – by the G20 will determine whether every member of our human family has a chance to live sustainably and peacefully, on a healthy planet.

 

And thank you for your attention. I’m at your disposal to answer a few questions.

 

Q: James Bays, from Al Jazeera. You mentioned the Black Sea Grain Initiative, Secretary-General. It needs to be renewed in just four days’ time. Are you hopeful? Have you discussed the deal with those delegations – Russia, Ukraine and Türkiye here? and on wider diplomacy on the war there are talks between the US and Russia in Ankara. Can you tell us more, is the UN involved?

 

SG: In relation to your second question; the UN is not involved. I think it is very positive that the US and Russia have talks. I think that is an extremely relevant development in relation to the future, but we are not involved.

 

In relation to the first question, we have on Friday, a very important meeting between our delegation and the delegation of the Russian Federation. There were also contacts this weekend with the Ukrainian side. I, myself, will be talking to Kyiv in a few moments. I will be meeting hopefully with those delegations here in this Summit. There was a lot of progress in removing the obstacles to the Russian export of food and fertilizers. I am hopeful that our efforts will go on being successful and we will be able to remove the last obstacles. I am hopeful that the Black Sea Grain Initiative will be renewed because those things are extremely important for today’s world.

 

Q: Climate Tracker, from Manila. There are fears that G20 leaders are backtracking on their climate pledges. How will the UN push for leaders to double down on their commitments to 1.5%?

 

SG: It is extremely important that in this COP, that questions related to climate finance be positively settled. And that means that there is a clarification of how the $100 billion of support to developing economies will be established. Also, a road map for the commitment that was made to double the financing for adaptation, and I am deeply convinced that a central question for the success of this COP is an important step forward in relation to loss and damage which means not only the recognition of loss and damage, but a roadmap to address the problem including through the establishment of a mechanism to manage the financial aspects of the loss and damage. I was encouraged by some declarations of some countries willing to contribute to a fund, but it is still too early to know whether or not this objective will be – or not – reached.

 

In relation to the necessary ambition in reduction of emissions I would say that the countries around the table in this G20 are the ones that matter, because they represent 80 per cent of the emissions. So, I will be tomorrow making a very strong appeal for them to join efforts in order to make sure that combining those resources, that combining those technology capacities, they would be able to have a common plan to reach net zero globally by 2050.

 

I am convinced that we need to break the dramatic geopolitical divides and as I said in the COP27, there is no way in which we can address the climate challenge that we face without the cooperation of all G20 members and in particular without the cooperation of the two biggest economies, the United States and China. And I am very happy that the countries had a summit today.

 

Q: National Radio of Indonesia. My question is about the presidency of Indonesia this year in the G20, so what is your mind about it and also what aspect could be nurtured by the next presidency?

 

SG: I have to say that I am a great admirer of what Indonesia has been doing, and in particular, of the actions of President Widodo. I think in a very difficult context in which geopolitical divides have reached a climax, Indonesia has demonstrated an enormous capacity to bring parties together to promote dialogue and to try to push for solutions.

I am also very happy that Indonesia will be assuming the presidency of ASEAN in the next year and leading the solution of the dramatic situation in Myanmar.

 

On the other hand, I would like to say that the Indonesia President initiates four presidencies of the G20 of the global south – Indonesia, India, Brazil and South Africa. I believe that this is a golden opportunity to finally address seriously what is a global financial and economic system that is deeply unjust and that has promoted enormous inequality, especially in the uneven distribution of resources after COVID-19 and in the capacity to respond effectively to the impacts of climate change in developing economies. And so, I am very hopeful, that following the lead of Indonesia, India, Brazil and South Africa we’ll be able to really make a clear breakthrough in the necessary reform of what I have called several times as a “morally bankrupt” international monetary system.

 

Q: Two questions if you don’t mind, for Russian National TV. How can you comment on Vladimir Putin’s decision not to take part in this summit, and my second question is about Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov. There was some news that he had some heart problems today. He was taken to hospital. You have meeting scheduled for tomorrow. Do you know anything about it?

 

SG: First of all, I would like very much to have President Putin here. The meeting I am having with Lavrov of course would be even more relevant if it was with President Putin.

I did not know about what happened to Mr. Lavrov. I wish him the best possible recovery, and I hope that tomorrow it will be possible to meet.

 

Q: I work in TELAM the National News Agency of Argentina. As you said we are in the middle of the energy and food crises. What role do you think that can Latin America play in providing food and energy to the world?

 

SG: I think Argentina has very important food production and a very important contribution in that regard. I believe that Latin America is seriously waking up for the need of development of massive renewable energy. I know that Argentina is in that line. So, obviously, the contribution of Latin America is extremely, extremely important.

 

On the other hand, I would like to say that the problem of food energy is also a problem of finance. Even if you have food available, if there is no money to buy it, that doesn’t solve the problem. If you have energy available and there is no money to buy it. And so, as important as solving and addressing directly the food and energy crisis is indeed to provide countries – especially in the developing world – with the fiscal space that is needed to be able to support their populations in this dramatic situation, and at the same time to speed their investment in adaptation and in the green transformation.

 

Spokesperson: Thank you very much, everybody.

 

SG: Thank you very much. Shukran. Merci. Spasiba. Gracias.

 

 

Source: UN Secretary-General

Author Since: Dec 08, 2021

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