Secretary-General calls for renewal of social contract in new report

Common Agenda

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres is calling for a renewal of the social contract to rebuild trust and social cohesion in recommendations made to Member States of the United Nations.

The Secretary-General presents “Our Common Agenda” at the General Assembly.

Tackling the “infodemic” of misinformation, addressing tax evasion, achieving social protection coverage, and reforming how GDP is measured are among the UN Chief’s recommendations in his report “Our Common Agenda”, published 10 September.

Last year, on the occasion of the UN’s 75th anniversary, members states requested the Secretary-General to report back with recommendations on strengthening global governance for the sake of present and future generations.

“Covid-19 is a wake-up call – and we are oversleeping,” Mr. Guterres said when he presented the report to the General Assembly.

“The pandemic has demonstrated our collective failure to come together and make joint decisions for the common good, even in the face of an immediate, life-threatening global emergency.

This paralysis extends far beyond COVID-19.  From the climate crisis to our suicidal war on nature and the collapse of biodiversity, our global response has been too little, too late. ”

 Key recommendations include:

  • Fighting the “infodemic” of misinformation plaguing our world by ending the ‘war on science’ and introducing a global code of conduct that promotes integrity in public information.
  • Addressing tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance, money-laundering and illicit financial flows, through a new joint structure on financial integrity.
  • Reinvigorating our thinking around human rights, including our online lives.
  • Achieving universal social protection coverage, including universal health care, concretised at a World Social Summit in 2025.
  • Eradicating violence against women and girls and ensuring their full and equal participation, including in emergency response plans and backed by a global campaign to eliminate damaging social norms.
  • Correcting blind spots in how we measure progress and prosperity by introducing measures that complement the gross national product (GDP), and ensure profits do not come at the expense of people and planet.

Our Common Agenda builds on many of the ideas that emerged during the year-long global listening exercise conducted in the context of the 75th anniversary where more than 1.5 million people in all 193 Member States voiced strong public support for international cooperation, and a desire for more effective, inclusive and networked multilateralism in the future.

This latest report brings together key ideas that emerged during the reflection process and offers suggestions on how to take them forward.

Our Common Agenda is an agenda of action, designed to strengthen and accelerate multilateral agreements – particularly the 2030 Agenda – and make a tangible difference to people’s lives.

“Business as usual could result in breakdown of the global order, into a world of perpetual crisis and winner-takes-all,” the Secretary-General warned the General Assembly.

“Or we could decide to change course, heralding a breakthrough to a greener, better, safer future for all.  This report represents my vision, informed by your contributions, for a path towards the breakthrough scenario.”

Other key proposals include:

  • Transformative measures on education, skills training and lifelong learning, including a Transforming Education Summit in 2022.
  • The appointment of a Special Envoy for Future Generations to serve as a voice for the 10.9 billion people expected to be born this century, as well as an upgraded UN Youth Office.
  • The repurposing of the Trusteeship Council to make it a deliberative body on behalf of succeeding generations.
  • Immediate steps for a global vaccination plan for COVID-19.
  • Better preparedness for future global shocks through an Emergency Platform that would be triggered automatically in response to large-scale crises.
  • A Summit of the Future to forge a new consensus on the most critical global concerns that the international system must protect and deliver– including peace, climate action beyond 2030, the digital commons and outer space.