UN Secretary-General’s remarks to press prior to the Security Council meeting on Peace Operations



 New York, 3 November 2022, 9:30 a.m.


Ladies and gentlemen of the media. Thank you very much for your presence.

I come today bearing a measure of good news – hopeful news in a world churning in turmoil. 

It has been said that one might not always appreciate something until it is at risk or gone altogether.

Over the past few days, I believe the world has come to understand and appreciate the importance of the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

For stemming the food crisis.  For easing prices and pressures on people around the world.  For reducing the risks of hunger, poverty and instability.  

The Black Sea Grain Initiative is making a difference.

I am pleased to announce that, today, the Initiative has hit a new milestone. 

As of today, ten million metric tonnes of grain and other foodstuffs have been shipped through the Black Sea corridor.

It has taken just three months to reach this milestone.

Despite all the obstacles we have seen, the beacon of hope in the Black Sea is still shining.  The initiative is working. 

It is our collective responsibility to keep it working smoothly.

I thank President [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan and the Government of Türkiye for their crucial contribution for that to happen.

Now that the initiative has fully resumed, I appeal to all parties to concentrate efforts in two areas.

First, to renewal and full implementation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

Second, to removing the remaining obstacles to the exports of Russian food and fertilizer.

I am fully committed – along with the entire United Nations system – to the achievement of both these essential objectives.

The world needs safe and unimpeded navigation for exports of grain, foodstuffs and fertilizer from Ukraine through the Black Sea.

And the world needs concerted efforts to urgently address the global fertilizer market crunch and make full use of Russian export capacity essential for that purpose. 

High fertilizer prices are already affecting farmers around the world. 

We cannot allow global fertilizer accessibility problems to morph into a global food shortage. 

As we have been reminded in the last few days, all of this is crucial for people everywhere.

We have also some encouraging news from Ethiopia.

Two weeks ago, I stood before you and raised the alarm about the spiraling conflict.

Today, I am pleased to commend the Federal Government of Ethiopia and the Tigrayan People’s

Liberation Front for yesterday’s signing of a Permanent Cessation of Hostilities. 

I salute the African Union’s High-Level Panel – President [Olusegun] Obasanjo, President [Uhuru] Kenyatta, and our former colleague Phumzile [Mlambo-Ngcuka] – for their work in facilitating this agreement.

It is a critical first step that paves the way for the unimpeded delivery of lifesaving humanitarian aid and the resumption of public services.

The human cost of this conflict has been devastating.

I urge all Ethiopians to seize this opportunity for peace and I pledge the full support of the United Nations.

From the Black Sea Initiative and the Ethiopian agreement, we can see that they are demonstrations of the power of multilateralism in action and the value of discrete – but determined – diplomacy. 

We must never give up in the cause of peace and advancing the values of the United Nations.

That is the spirit that every country must bring to the UN Climate Conference, COP27, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. 

COP27 must be the place to rebuild trust and re-establish the ambition needed to avoid driving our planet over the climate cliff.

In the last few weeks, report after report has painted a clear and bleak picture.

Emissions are still growing at record levels. 

Instead of going down 45 per cent by 2030 as scientists tell us must happen — greenhouse gas emissions are now on course to rise by 10 per cent.  

Meanwhile, temperatures are on course to rise by as much as 2.8 degrees, with the present policies in place, by the end of the century. 

And that means our planet is on course for reaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible and forever bake in catastrophic temperature rise.

We need to move from tipping points to turning points for hope.

That means urgently increasing ambition and trust – especially between North and South.

Specifically, it is time for an historic pact between developed and emerging economies.

A pact in which developed countries deliver on the commitment made in Paris and make an additional effort to reduce emissions in line with the 1.5-degree goal. 

And a pact in which wealthier countries provide financial and technical assistance – along with support from Multilateral Development Banks and technology companies – to help emerging economies speed their renewable energy transition, as it is also necessary for us all. 

COP27 must be the place to close the ambition gap, the credibility gap and the solidarity gap.

It must put us back on track to cutting emissions, boosting climate resilience and adaptation, keeping the promise on climate finance and addressing loss and damage from climate change.

Getting concrete results on loss and damage is the litmus test of the commitment of governments to help close all these gaps.

I travelled to Pakistan and witnessed one-third of the country under water – with lost lives, lost crops, lost hope.

There is no way anyone can argue there is no loss and no damage.

The world must come together to support developing countries and vulnerable communities.

At COP27, I look forward to launching an initiative to ensure every person on earth is protected by an early warning system within five years.

In short, COP27 must lay the foundations for much faster, bolder climate action now and in this crucial decade, when the global climate fight will be won or lost.

We need all nations and all people on board in these make-or-break next years, starting at COP27.

 Thank you.


Q: Thank you so much.  Benno Schwinghammer, German Press Agency. I have one follow up about the grain deal. How optimistic are you now that it can be extended over the deadline in November? And then one question about climate change. You talked about the 1.5-degree goal. And experts now say this door is basically shut; increasingly, they say that. Are you prepared to announce that humanity failed Paris and that we need a new goal – for example, two degrees?

SG: Well, in relation to the first question, I usually use an expression of Jean Monnet that you might have heard several times, which is: I’m not optimistic. I’m not pessimistic, I’m determined. And we must all be determined to do whatever is necessary in order to make sure that we have the renewal of the Black Sea Grain Initiative and at the same time that we solve the remaining problems for Russian food and fertilizer exports. 

On the second question, the 1.5 degrees is in intensive care and the machines are shaking. So, it is in high danger. But it is still possible. And my objective in Egypt is to make sure that we gather enough political will to make this possibility really moving forward, to make the machines work. And to make sure that we progressively move from life-saving to normal perspectives to 1.5 goal, but it is indeed in high danger and we are closing, we are getting close to moments where tipping points might, at a certain moment, make it irreversibly impossible to achieve. Let’s avoid it at all costs.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, you have reacted to some positive diplomatic developments on Ethiopia and on the grain deal, which is one aspect of Ukraine. You’re now going to COP, as you’ve said, and then you’re going to the G20. At the G20, you’ll be there, Türkiye will be there, Ukraine will be there, Russia will be there, and the US will be there. What are the chances of any meaningful discussions on the wider issues of the war?

SG: Well, many things will happen before the G20. There are a number of meetings that are scheduled. There are a number of initiatives that are taking place. We are working hard. I hope that when we will get to the meeting in Bali, the two perspectives that I have expressed here as absolutely needed, the continuation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative and the solution of the remaining problems for the exports of Russian food and especially fertilizers, will have moved in the right direction. 

Q: So, ending the war – ending the war?

SG: Let me close. About ending the war, we need, I believe, still a certain way to go. Peace is of course the objective of us all – peace in line with international law and with the UN Charter. But I think that we are still relatively away from it, and we need to do everything to accelerate that – moving in that way.

Q: Thank you, Steph. Thank you, Secretary General. It’s Pamela Falk from CBS News. You are pleading with leaders for COP27 to change things, but you cited these grim reports and now there’s a new UNESCO report that says several glacier sites will disappear by 2050. What do you believe can happen at COP27? And do you believe something will actually change before everyone falls off what you call the ‘climate cliff’? 

SG: I think the most important is to have a clear political will to reduce emissions faster. And that is why I have proposed a pact, an historical pact between developed and emerging economies. They will all be in the G20, by the way.

And if that pact doesn’t take place, we will be doomed, because we need to reduce emissions, both in the developed countries and emerging economies; but for that, the emerging economies need a massive support that needs to be established. And on the other hand, we must re-establish in this COP the trust between North and South, and to re-establish the trust between North and South, it’s essential that the commitments made, the financial commitments made, are met; and more than that, that we really move forward in a very clear way in relation to both increasing support to adaptation and loss and damage. Loss and damage have been the always-postponed issue. There is no more time to postpone it. We must recognize loss and damage and we must create an institutional framework to deal with it.

Q: Thank you. Joseph Klein, Canada Free Press. What further efforts are being made to prioritize the shipment of foodstuffs from Ukrainian ports to poorer countries in the Global South, because that’s been one of the criticisms that’s been a levelled to date – that the poor countries that really need the foodstuffs are not getting their fair share. Thank you. 

SG: Well, first of all, we need to distinguish between animal feed, foodstuffs and food for human consumption. Indeed, in relation to animal feed, there has been a clear larger percentage for developed countries, which is normal because in the developing world, animal feed is done in some different ways. This is not corn that is used for animal feeds. But in relation to human consumption, there is a much larger movement of grains to developing countries than to developed countries. In relation to the least developed countries, we are as you know, accelerating our work with the World Food Programme, and at the same time, we are creating conditions for them to have the possibility of access to foodstuffs. It is also a matter of price, and that is why donations will be also very important to accelerate that process. Thank you very much.