Discorso del Segretario Generale alla riunione del G20 a Venezia

Remarks of UN Secretary-General António Guterres to third G20 Meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors

Venice, Italy, 9 July 2021

Below are the UN Secretary-General’s remarks to the third G20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors.


Your Excellency,

Distinguished Ministers and Central Bank Governors,

Ladies and gentlemen,

We are now in the second year of a global pandemic that has killed four million people. Extreme climate events regularly devastate vulnerable communities. And I do not need to tell you: it is far from over.

Indeed, the pandemic has gathered pace. It took nine months for the virus to claim one million lives; and about three months for it to take the second and third million. The fourth million died in just two and a half months.

You have come together to determine the course of some of the most pressing issues we face: access to vaccines; extending an economic lifeline to the developing world; and more and better public finance for ambitious climate action.

Many developed countries appear to be overcoming the pandemic, but developing countries are still struggling to survive, let alone recover. While 70 percent of people in some developed countries are vaccinated, that figure stands at less than 1 per cent for low-income countries.

A global vaccine gap threatens us all because as the virus mutates, it could become even more transmissible, or even more deadly.

Pledges of doses and funds are welcome – but they are not enough. We need not one billion, but at least eleven billion doses to vaccinate 70 percent of the world and end this pandemic.

This calls for the greatest global public health campaign in history, to vaccinate everyone, everywhere.

The world needs a Global Vaccine Plan, to at least double production of vaccines and ensure equitable distribution, using COVAX as the platform; to coordinate implementation and financing; and to support countries’ readiness and capacity to roll out immunization programmes, while tackling vaccine hesitancy.

To realize this plan, I am calling for an Emergency Task Force that brings together the countries that produce and can produce vaccines, the World Health Organization, the global vaccine alliance GAVI, and international financial institutions, able to deal with the relevant pharmaceutical companies and manufacturers, and other key stakeholders.

The G20 is best placed to lead the world in preparing and implementing such a plan.

You have the production and financial capacities to defeat COVID-19.

Right now, it is important to support the $50 billion investment roadmap, to be led by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World Health Organization and the World Trade Organization.

Distinguished Ministers and governors, ladies and gentlemen,

Solidarity does not stop there.

Many developing countries are teetering on the verge of debt default. They need an economic lifeline.

In advanced economies, fiscal packages have reached nearly 28 percent of GDP. In middle-income countries, this figure drops to 6.5 percent; in least developed countries, to 1.8 percent.

Developing countries face significant funding constraints, curtailed in many cases by interest payments and by reduced opportunities to raise taxes.

In parallel, the COVID-19 pandemic is set to increase the number of poor people by up to 124 million people. Eight out of 10 of these ‘new poor’ are in middle-income countries, which currently remain ineligible for debt relief programs.

I am encouraged by the swift action of the International Monetary Fund and its members to allocate a new round of $650 billion in Special Drawing Rights.

Solidarity requires that richer countries channel their unused shares of these funds to developing countries, including vulnerable middle-income countries and small island developing states. I encourage advanced economies to channel unused SDRs into the new Resilience and Sustainability Trust.

Special Drawing Rights also need to be considered as additional funding, not deducted from Official Development Assistance.

I hope the G20 will expand the Debt Service Suspension Initiative and Common Framework for Debt Treatment to include vulnerable middle-income countries and small island developing states; and fully operationalize the Common Framework as the basis for a reformed, and more equitable, international debt architecture.

Distinguished ministers and governors, ladies and gentlemen,

Strengthening the financial architecture is also critical to fight climate change.

A promising movement for carbon neutrality is now taking shape.

By next month, countries representing more than 65 per cent of harmful greenhouse gases and more than 70 per cent of the world economy will have committed to achieve net zero emissions.

But we are still struggling to hold the global temperature increase to the 1.5-degree target of the Paris Agreement.

1.5 degrees is not an arbitrary number.

At 1.2 degrees, we are already seeing the devastation of climate change on an almost weekly basis.

If COP26 in Glasgow is to be a turning point, we need all G20 countries to commit to achieve net zero by mid-century, and to present Nationally Determined Contributions beforehand aiming at a cut in global emissions by 45 per cent by 2030, compared to 2010 levels.

Developing countries also need reassurance that their ambition will be met with financial and technical support.

I am deeply concerned over the lack of progress on public climate finance.

Twelve years ago in 2009, developed countries agreed to mobilize 100 billion dollars annually from public and private sources for mitigation and adaptation action by 2020. They repeated this pledge in the Paris Agreement in 2015.

$100 billion is a bare minimum. From the Caribbean to the Pacific, developing economies have been landed with enormous infrastructure bills because of a century of greenhouse gas emissions they had no part in. But the agreement has not been kept.

A clear plan to fulfil this pledge is not just about the economics of climate change; it is about establishing trust in the multilateral system.

Solidarity begins with the $100 billion. It should extend to allocating 50 percent of all climate finance to adaptation, including resilient housing, elevated roads and early warning systems that save lives and livelihoods.

This adaptation finance should not come at the expense of mitigation. We need both.

Development banks have an essential role to play here, helping developing countries to transition from coal, oil, and gas to renewable energy by adding green jobs and reducing inequalities.

Banks need a clear strategy to avoid entrenching developing countries in high-carbon, fossil fuel-intensive investments that are at risk of becoming stranded assets.

While public finance is key, large scale private finance is also essential. This now appears possible, for the first time.

Over160 financial firms, responsible for $70 trillion of assets, have joined the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero.

The Assets Owners Alliance, representing $6.6 trillion in assets under management, is leading the way with concrete plans and targets.

To reinforce these efforts, the G20 must set ambitious, clear and credible climate policies, and ensure the private sector has the framework it needs through mandatory climate-related financial disclosures.

This will pull forward investment in your economies, grow jobs and accelerate the transition to sustainable, renewable energy.

And we need all financiers to commit to no new international funding for coal, by the end of 2021.

Distinguished ministers and governors, ladies and gentlemen,

To restore trust in multilateralism, we need to deliver on vaccines, economic recovery and climate finance. Developed economies need to demonstrate solidarity that goes beyond words into meaningful, concrete actions.

With your leadership and political will, we can do it.

The next six months will be critical.

I urge you to work together to build a strong recovery from the pandemic, reinforce the foundations of the global economy, and prevent catastrophic climate change.

Thank you.