Guterres brushes off key leaders’ absence

UN secretary general Antonio Guterres says he cares less about who comes to New York and more about what gets done, especially as it concerns reviving the lagging Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Mr Guterres told journalists on Sunday in New York that some high-profile world leaders opted out of the UN General Assembly’s annual opening session scheduled for Tuesday.

“This is not a Vanity Fair. This is a political body in which governments are represented. What matters is that (countries) are represented by someone that can (rise to) the present moment. So, I’m not so worried about who’s coming,” stated Mr Guterres.

The UN chief added, “What I’m worried (about) is making sure the countries that are here … are ready to assume the commitments necessary to make the SDGs – that unfortunately are not moving in the right direction – a reality.”

Mr Guterres emphasised the need to reform the current “unjust, dysfunctional, and outdated” global finance system to achieve the SDGs by 2030.

He recalled his $500 billion SDGs Stimulus proposal to support developing nations to ensure they have the resources to achieve the SDGs.

The UN chief further said his 2023 Climate Ambition Summit will allow countries, businesses, and civil society to step up their efforts to reign in runaway climate change.

In a notable departure from standard practice where countries are front and centre, this Summit will give a platform to what the secretary-general referred to as “frontliners”, those most committed to climate action and can share the best practices.

“We are moving to 2.6-2.8°C of global temperature rise by the end of the century,” he warned, stressing the urgency of returning to the goal of limiting the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels,” said Mr Guterres. “It is still possible with political will – but a lot needs to be done.”

As for the ongoing war in Ukraine, the secretary general reiterated that the central objective is to secure peace, which is just and in line with the UN Charter and international law.

However, Mr Guterres cautioned against undue optimism, acknowledging that current conditions may not favour a “serious dialogue” on peace.

The UN chief added, “I think the parties are far from that possibility at the present moment, but we will never, never stop our efforts to make sure that peace comes to Ukraine.”


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