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Cooperation key to weathering climate crisis, growing inequality, new tech challenge: Guterres

Secretary-General António Guterres briefs reporters after his meeting with Civil Society Organizations on his Climate Acceleration Agenda.
UN Photo/Mark Garten
Secretary-General António Guterres briefs reporters after his meeting with Civil Society Organizations on his Climate Acceleration Agenda.

Cooperation key to weathering climate crisis, growing inequality, new tech challenge: Guterres

Peace and Security

Divisions are growing and geopolitical tensions rising, as humanity faces three major challenges where the world has the power to “seek and unite for solutions” said the UN chief on Tuesday.

António Guterres was addressing the Council of The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the world’s largest regional security body in terms of landmass and population which currently includes China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and new member Iran.

The UN has had a cooperation agreement with the Asia-focused SCO since 2010, which also partners with multiple UN agencies. This year the summit is being hosted via videoconference by India.

Ukraine, COVID factor

The UN chief told Member States the growing divisions had been aggravated by different national and reasonable responses to global crises, differences over security threats, the consequences of COVID and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“But today’s global challenges, from the climate crisis to growing inequality and the governance of new technology, can only be resolved through dialogue and cooperation. And the only way that can happen is together.”

Solutions needed on three fronts

He said there were three main areas where he believes “we can and must seek and unite for solutions.

“First, the climate crisis. Unless humanity acts together, we are heading for disaster. We need to team up – and speed up”, he said.

He cited his Climate Solidarity Pact aimed at big carbon emitters and developing countries, backing support for emerging economies.

“Climate action is the fight of our lives, and SCO members have an important role to play”, he emphasized.  

Checks on AI

Next, he said solutions needed to be forthcoming as the world sleepwalks “completely unprepared” into the new tech era.

Artificial Intelligence (AI), autonomous weapons, and bioengineering are three areas where our abilities to safely develop and regulate the industry and companies pioneering it, “are falling far behind.” 

To help forge international consensus on the rules, he cited the UN’s proposed Global Digital Compact to bring together governments, regional organizations, the private sector and civil society.

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He said a new UN High-Level advisory group on Artificial Intelligence would be created.

“I am open to any initiative by Member States to create an international agency for AI”, he added. “SCO members are global leaders in many of these areas and we count on your engagement and support.”

‘Reduce injustice’

Thirdly, he reiterated the breakdown in trust within and between countries which has sparked rising inequality. The pandemic only widened it, while saddling developing economies with too much debt and interest payments, swallowing up money that could have gone on climate action and sustainable development.

“The solution to unjust globalization is not to reduce globalization. It is to reduce injustice.  

He called on States to work for fair globalization, climate justice, and global finance reforms that bring equity and balance to both the Bretton Woods institutions and the Security Council.   

“We are calling for deep reforms to make global frameworks more representative of developing and emerging economies, and more responsive to their needs. And I am also calling for an immediate SDG Stimulus to increase liquidity, reduce the debt burden on developing economies, and get the 2030 Agenda on track.”

He said at the national level, a strong focus was needed on social protection and jobs. A new social contract needs to be based on respect “for all human rights”, he added.

Afghanistan and human rights

The SCO is well placed he said to advance peace and security in Eurasia and counter violent extremism and terrorism.  

He welcomed the commitment of Afghanistan’s neighbours to a peaceful and united Afghanistan “with an inclusive broad-based Government” following the 2021 Taliban takeover, which is returning the country to rule by religious fiat and totally undermined women’s rights.

He said Afghans needed “a Government that will safeguard the rights of all its people, particularly women and girls, and prevent the country from becoming a centre for terrorism and violent extremism.”

Mr. Guterres welcomed the SCO’s commitment to deepening cooperation with the UN and called for “strong engagement” from States ahead of the SDG Summit, Climate Ambition Summit and his planned Summit of the Future next year.

“Let us work together for global solutions that advance peace and security, sustainable development and human rights for all.”