U.N. chief calls G20 Summit ‘pivotal, precarious moment’

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Nov. 14 (UPI) — On the eve of the G20 Summit, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres called the timing of the world meeting “the most pivotal, precarious moment in generations.”

“Today, as we welcome the eight billionth member of our growing human family, we must think ahead. By 2050, the world’s population will be approaching ten billion,” Guterres said.

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“Action — or inaction — by the G20 will determine whether every member of our human family has a chance to live sustainably and peacefully, on a healthy planet.”

Guterres spoke to reporters on Monday in Bali, Indonesia where the G20 Summit will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday, calling it a “crucial time” to resolve global crises.

“People everywhere are getting hit from every direction — battered by runaway climate change and squeezed by a cost-of-living crisis,” the U.N. leader said.

“Geopolitical divisions are triggering new conflicts and making old ones even more difficult to resolve,” Guterres said as he called for an end to “deadly disinformation and a resolution to the world’s food, energy and climate crises.

Guterres, who will present his Climate Solidarity Pact that calls for combined resources and a tax on oil companies to finance climate loss and damage, said the G20 is “ground zero for bridging divisions and finding answers to crises.”

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“The goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees is slipping away. We are dangerously close to tipping points at which climate chaos could become irreversible,” Guterres warned Monday. “But global emissions, and temperatures, continue to rise.”

“I tend to agree that insanity consists in doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result,” he said as he blamed G20 countries for 80% of global emissions. “It is obvious we need a new approach.”

Guterres also discussed the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals to help struggling governments ease the food and energy crises generated by the war in Ukraine.

“Developing countries cannot access the finance they need to reduce poverty and hunger, and invest in sustainable development,” Guterres said. “I therefore urge G20 economies to adopt an SDG stimulus package that will provide governments of the Global South with investments and liquidity, and offer debt relief and restructuring.”

“My message on food is that we need urgent action to prevent famine and hunger in a growing number of places around the world,” Guterres said. “The Black Sea Grain Initiative, and efforts to ensure Russian food and fertilizers can flow to global markets, are essential to global food security.”

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In addition to the climate, food and energy crises, Guterres also called for leadership to place “guardrails” on technology.

“Powerful tech companies are running roughshod over human rights and personal privacy and providing platforms for deadly disinformation, in pursuit of profit,” Guterres said as he called for a Global Digital Compact to provide an open, free, secure and inclusive internet.

“Let’s be clear: disinformation kills. Undermining public health kills and these are life-and-death issues.”