Secretary-General urges countries to reconsider cuts in development aid 

Guterres Sweden
UN Secretary-General António Guterres and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson at a press conference in Stockholm. Photo: UN Spokesperson.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has arrived in Sweden where he will participate in the 2-3 June Stockholm+50 conference.

In his remarks to the press Mr. Guterres praised Sweden as “a trailblazer for gender equality” and “a champion of climate action and sustainable development”, in addition to its staunch defense of human rights, mediation efforts and generous contributions to humanitarian action and development assistance. 

 In his comments on the Stockholm+50 conference the Secretary-General said that it is a crucial opportunity to bolster our response to the triple planetary emergency of climate disruption, pollution and biodiversity loss. 

Stokkhólmur í dag

 “I welcome Sweden’s commitment to achieve net-zero emissions by 2045 at the latest, and negative emissions shortly thereafter,” Guterres said. “I count on the European Union to match this ambition and review its renewable energy and energy efficiency targets this year.”  

Perfect storm for developing countries

 He pointed out that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is inflaming a three-dimensional global crisis – food, energy and finance – that is pummeling the most vulnerable people, countries and economies.  

“Now they also face ballooning energy costs and growing hunger. A perfect storm is threatening to devastate the economies of many developing countries. They need support,” the Secretary-General said. 

 “Unfortunately, there are recent indications that some countries are considering deep cuts to Official Development Assistance, a reversal of prior commitments. 

 This is alarming.  I urge countries to reconsider given the dire consequences these cuts will have on the lives of the most vulnerable. “  He added that the Swedish Prime Minister had assured him that Sweden would maintain its development assistance. 

 In their meeting this morning the Prime Minister and the Secretary-General discussed Ukraine, and the implications for European security, and possible pathways towards de-escalation and a negotiated settlement. 

Quick action needed

Guterres Andersson
Press conference in Stockholm today. Photo: UN Spokesperson

 The Secretary-General said that with respect to the food crisis, quick and decisive action is needed.  

“But let me be frank: there is no effective solution to the food crisis without reintegrating Ukraine’s food production, as well as the food and fertilizer produced by Russia into world markets – despite the war. I continue to exert every possible effort and use my good offices to promote a dialogue towards this end.” 

 Two UN teams – led by Martin Griffiths and Rebeca Grynspan – are visiting the relevant capitals to negotiate the safe and secure export of Ukrainian-produced food through the Black Sea along with unimpeded access of Russian food and fertilizers to global markets, especially developing countries.