Incontro stampa del Segretario Generale delle Nazioni Unite al Vertice sul clima in Africa



Nairobi, 5 September 2023

Ladies and gentlemen of the media, it’s good to be back in Nairobi once again.

I thank President Ruto, the Kenyan government and the people of Kenya for their warm welcome.

Like so many African countries, Kenya is home to enormous opportunities and limitless potential.

But achieving this potential requires confronting — and addressing — some deeply rooted challenges and injustices.

One of the prime injustices is what brings me to Nairobi today — climate chaos.

Africa accounts for just four per cent of global emissions, but it suffers some of the worst effects of climate change.

Today, I renewed my call for the world to step up climate action to avoid the worst effects of climate change, keep global promises to provide essential support, and help Africa make a just and equitable transition to renewable energy.

As I detailed in my remarks, Africa can be a renewable energy superpower.

Now is the time to bring together African countries with developed countries, financial institutions and technological companies to create a true African Renewable Energy Alliance.

And all of that requires addressing another injustice: an outdated, unfair and dysfunctional global financial system.

On average, African countries pay four times more for borrowing than the United States — and eight times more than the wealthiest European countries.

Turbocharging a just and equitable green transition — while supporting development more broadly across Africa — requires a dramatic course correction.

This means ensuring an effective debt-relief mechanism that supports payment suspensions, longer lending terms, and lower rates.

It means re-capitalizing and changing the business model of Multilateral Development Banks so they can massively leverage private finance at affordable rates to help developing countries build truly sustainable economies.

And I have called for an SDG Stimulus of at least $500 billion every year to help developing countries invest in their people and the systems they need.

But the heart of all of these injustices and more is that the multilateral system does not reflect today’s Africa or a world that is growing increasingly multipolar.

Global governance structures reflect the world as it was, not as it is.

Global institutions were created in the aftermath of World War II when many African countries were still ruled by colonial powers and not even at the table.

We see this injustice playing out in the African context today.

Global institutions need to step up, guarantee African representation, and respond to African needs and African potential.

From international financial institutions, to the Security Council of the United Nations, where Africa lacks a permanent seat.

That is why across my upcoming meetings — including the ASEAN meeting in Indonesia this week, followed by the G20 meeting in India and the G77 in Cuba — I will continue advocating for deep reforms to make these institutions more responsive to the needs of developing countries and in particular Africa.

We need and international financial system with an architecture that favours developing countries sin general and in particular African countries, and we need a reform of the Security Council in which Africa finally gets at least one permanent seat.

We cannot afford a fractured world.

We have the tools we need to guide us — the UN Charter, international law and human rights.

It’s time to end the injustices that are holding Africa back.

I will work closely with African leaders and organizations like the African Union to make progress towards the peaceful, prosperous and sustainable future that Africa needs and deserves.

Thank you.

Question: So your excellency…

Secretary-General: You don’t need to use your excellency. That is a word that I avoid. SG, Secretary-General, António, any other.

Question: OK thank you. Apart from these financial reforms, yesterday the president of Kenya, Dr. Ruto, talked about how these divisions between the north and south are holding Africa hostage to environmental stewardship. I don’t know, as the United Nations, how you, how do you respond to that?

Secretary-General: I think when I speak about the need for reform of the Bretton Woods system I’m addressing exactly that problem. When I speak about an international financial architecture that is not biased against developing countries I’m talking about those divisions. When I say that we need to have an effective debt relief mechanism, we have so many African countries in a situation of debt distress or close to debt distress and they have no fiscal space to have climate action and even to address the basic needs on education and health.

In Africa, there is more money paid in interest rates than in education and health in several African countries. So when we speak about the need to reform international financial institutions, when we speak about the reform of the Security Council and the presence of Africa we are talking exactly on how to bridge that division, that gap, that exists between the developed and developing countries.

Question: Regina Manara from the national broadcaster that is KBC. So what does the United Nations have to say in regard to the loss and damage proposition for those who are calling for justice, especially for Africa? The second one, what is the stand or the take of the United Nations when it comes to use of data from early warning systems to avert major climatic situations and challenges?

Secretary-General: Well, we have battled very strongly for years and years for loss and damage to be recognized and for a loss and damage fund to be created. It was created in the last COP but now it needs to be made operational. And there are 23 countries that are responsible for that and we are doing everything possible to make sure that in the next COP, the loss and damage fund becomes operational.

I launched already last year, a global project with the support of the World Meteorological Organization and our Disaster Risk Reduction department, and already with the support of the Green Climate Fund and a number of other institutions with the objective to make sure that in five years all countries are covered by early warning systems.

After this initiative, Africa has launched its own initiative and we think they are entirely together. The objective is that no country suffers a dramatic flood or a dramatic hurricane without that country having the possibility to know in advance what’s going to happen to be able to prepare itself and prepare its population for it.

This is an investment, an important investment that needs to be done. We are working hard to gather the resources necessary for it. But we are moving forward. And I hope that in five years we’ll have all countries in the world covered by early warning system against natural disasters.

Question: Good afternoon, Mr. Guterres I’m from CCTV, Chinese news media. So we notice that in this Africa Climate Summit so many Asian countries also send their delegates. Apart from China also, South Korea and India. So to what extent do you think Asian countries may contribute to climate action in Africa? And since I’m from the Chinese media, so could you also like especially talk about the role of China in this process?

Secretary-General: I think it’s absolutely essential that all countries that can support African development of renewables, all countries that can support African efforts in adaptation all countries that can share their experience in this regard are very much welcome. I believe this is true for many Asian countries, but it is also important that Asian countries do their bit in relation to the reduction of emissions. And as I said in my intervention, 20 countries of the world, the G20, including several Asian countries, represent 80 per cent of the emissions. And the impact is being suffered everywhere, but of the 20 countries more impacted by climate change in the disasters that are created, 17 are in Africa. So, all the efforts that Asian countries must make to reduce their emissions are very important to help Africa avoid the kind of disasters that unfortunately are increasing in such a devastating way.

Question: and especially the role of China in this process?

Secretary-General: China has cooperation with Africa in many aspects and I think that that cooperation can be boosted in relation to climate action. On the other hand, China is also a big emitter and so, China must also make a very strong effort in order to be able to…I remember President Xi Jinping said that China will peak its emissions before 2060 so what I’m asking is for this before to be as large as possible.

Question: I’m Nick Fares from the New Statesman. So data shows that like investment infrastructure, public and private investment financing is going down year and year, right? So, with all of the kind of talk of reforms of financial mechanisms and you know, new ways of investing what can we do to like ensure that we’re not just rebranding this scenario as opposed to what we actually need to do which is just boosting finance. Is there a risk that would just put money in a bad situation?

Secretary-General: Well, there are several things that can be done. First, if you recapitalize multilateral development banks, for each dollar you put in the capital, there’s five dollars that they can have as additional loans. On the other hand, if the SDRs, the Special Drawing Rights are channeled through multilateral development banks, then again for each dollar that is put in a multilateral development bank, that’ll be five dollars that the multilateral development banks can provide to the African continent and others in loans at a reasonable cost because it’s at low cost, as you know, in concessional funding. On the other hand, we have been telling that multilateral development banks need to be able to – beyond what they do in their loans – to give guarantees to be first risk takers in order to massively leverage, the mobilization of private finance. And a lot can be done in this regard.

So we have a number of instruments that can allow us to multiply the resources that exist and to reorient those resources, in order to effectively support those countries, like was said today by President Ruto, that when they go to capital markets, they pay interest rates that are eight times the level of the richest European countries which makes investment in renewables practically impossible. So we need to mobilize those other resources I mentioned to make sure that Africa has access to the resources that it needs for this renewables revolution. Thank you very much.