Guterres warns Nordic Council: Sustainable development in danger

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has warned that the COVID-19 pandemic is endangering the success of sustainable development.

“The pandemic is not simply a health crisis. Steady progress on sustainable development since the turn of the century is at risk,” Mr. Guterres said in a speech to the Nordic Council.

The Secretary-General praised the Nordic countries as “great friends of the United Nations and the causes of multilateralism and sustainable development. “

He said that the meeting took place in a time of great crisis and uncertainty. The world is facing an unfolding pandemic that has exposed multiple weaknesses in our societies.

He said that there are some signs of hope on the COVID-19 pandemic, including international cooperation on testing for poorer countries and cooperation on purchase of vaccines. However, to continue this, “the world has to immediately raise an additional $14 billion dollars.”

“It is imperative that vaccines are available and affordable everywhere as a global public good… Because no one is safe until we are all safe,” Mr. Guterres said.

He also pointed out that climate change, which he said affects the Nordic countries acutely, is gathering pace.

The Arctic he said, has experienced record temperatures this year and faces the very real prospect of a future free of sea ice within our lifetime. Guterres said that the UN will continue to do all it can to ensure ambitious climate action, including to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels,

“To that end we are promoting six climate-positive actions that countries and other stakeholders can take to effect a sustainable economic recovery from COVID-19, “ Guterres added.

“Invest in sustainable jobs and business.  Ensure no more bailouts to polluting industries and end subsidies for fossil fuels, especially coal. Consider climate risks in all financial decisions and policy-making. Work together in a common cause…In all these, we count on the Nordic countries. “

“The nations you represent have historically been among the strongest advocates of ambitious climate action and of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The world needs your leadership now more than ever.“

The Secretary-General said countries need to submit, well in advance of COP26 next year, more ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement, that are consistent with the net-zero goal.

“It is my hope that members of the Nordic Council will serve as the global model for green, inclusive and sustainable recovery. “

The Secretary-General participated in the Nordic Council debate on the theme: “How has Nordic co-operation been affected by the pandemic and what can we do to ensure closer co-operation before the next crisis? What does the global picture look like?”

Other participants were, the President of the Nordic Council, Silja Dögg Gunnarsdóttir, and the Nordic prime ministers and heads of the devolved administrations: Mette Frederiksen, Sanna Marin, Stefan Löfven, Erna Solberg, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Kim Kielsen, Bárður á Steig Nielsen and Veronica Thörnroos.

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