The COVID-19 pandemic, a generational global economic crisis, and faltering progress on sustainable development and gender equality were some of the challenges the Secretary-General outlined in a speech, delivered in German.
“It is clear that the way to win the future is through an openness to the world. Yet in too many places, we see a closing of minds,” said Mr. Guterres.
The UN chief was invited to the Bundestag by the body’s President Wolfgang Schäuble, on the occasion of the UN’s 75th anniversary.
A people’s vaccine
In his speech, the Secretary-General thanked Germany for its support to the WHO Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-Accelerator) and its COVAX facility to develop and equitably distribute vaccines, diagnostics and treatments.
He added that the next step is to ensure that everyone, everywhere can access the vaccine.
“Our challenge now is to ensure that vaccines are treated as a global public good – accessible and affordable to everyone, everywhere. A people’s vaccine.”
Fight virus of misinformation
At the same time, the virus of misinformation must also be defeated, added Mr. Guterres.
“Across the globe, we have seen how populist approaches that ignore science have misled the public. Coupled with false news and wild conspiracies, things have become manifestly worse,” he cautioned.
In that context, Mr. Guterres applauded the leadership of Chancellor Angela Merkel for early and decisive steps driven by science, local data and local action that suppressed transmission of the virus and saved lives.
“Studies show that women’s leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic led to more evidence-based, sustainable, inclusive and effective results.”
The UN chief also drew attention to the issue of climate security, with events such as loss of bio diversity and ecosystems, increased desertification and acidification, and devastating fires, floods and hurricanes.
He called for action in three areas: mitigation, finance and adaptation.
“Germany has been a driving global force on all fronts,” continued Mr. Guterres recalling the country’s pledge to net-zero by 2050.
“We need others to follow your example and help build a Global Coalition for Carbon Neutrality. All countries – and in particular all major economies – must come forward with plans to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.”
The UN chief urged efforts globally to end fossil fuel subsidies, stop building new coal power plants, and integrating carbon neutrality into all economic and fiscal policies and decisions.
Mr. Guterres highlighted Germany as an important partner for the UN in peacekeeping, peacebuilding and humanitarian assistance, including its support for his global ceasefire call, earlier this year.
He noted the country’s convening of the Berlin International Conference on Libya last January, its support to peace efforts in Yemen, Afghanistan, the Sahel, and in Eastern Ukraine; its advocacy for full participation of women in peace processes; as well as hosting Syrian and many other refugees and contributing vital relief for millions in need.