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Heed UN Secretary-General’s call to address most urgent global concerns

“Our world is in peril and paralyzed. We are gridlocked in colossal global dysfunction. The United Nations (UN) charter and the ideals it represents are in jeopardy and we have a duty to act. We cannot go on like this.”

Thus spoke UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as he addressed the opening of the 77th UN General Assembly that has adopted the theme — “A watershed moment: Transformative solutions to interlocking challenges.”

The protracted Russia-Ukraine conflict has embroiled Europe with its first major military conflict since World War II, with far-reaching consequences to the rest of the world. Commodity prices continue to soar. Countries like the Philippines that are net importers of energy and food products are threatened by major supply disruptions.

Secretary-General Guterres has flagged the seriousness of the current global fertilizer market crunch that, if not stabilized immediately, could trigger an even larger and more serious global food supply crisis. He said it is essential to remove obstacles to the export of Russian fertilizers and their ingredients, including ammonia. High gas prices also affect the production of nitrogen fertilizers and must also be addressed immediately.

Climate change is another high-priority concern. According to the latest assessment made by the World Meteorological Organization, there’s a 50:50 chance of global temperature temporarily reaching the 1.5 degree centigrade threshold that was set in the 2015 Paris Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Agreement on Climate Change in the next five years. The annual mean global near-surface temperature for each year between 2022 and 2026 is predicted to be between 1.1 and 1.7 degrees centigrade higher than preindustrial levels.

Secretary-General Guterres has deplored that “climate action is being put on the back burner – despite overwhelming public support around the world.” Meantime, Pakistan was severely flooded; mega-drought was experienced in both the United States and China; famine stalked the Horn of Africa; and as the climate crisis worsens, women and children are the most affected.

The G20 countries that are economically more affluent emit about 80 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions; they also control the levers of decision-making in the United Nations. Hence gridlock or inaction, such as the situation being deplored by the UN Secretary General, worsens the extent of global warming and exacerbates climate injustice: “The poorest and most vulnerable – those who contributed least to this crisis – are bearing its most brutal impacts.”

Finally, Secretary-General Guterres called attention to a global cost-of-living crisis, “in which some 94 countries – home to 1.6 billion people – many in Africa – face a perfect storm: Economic and social fallout from the pandemic, soaring food and energy prices, crushing debt burdens, spiraling inflation, and a lack of access to finance.” He warned: “These cascading crises are feeding on each other, compounding inequalities, creating devastating hardship, delaying the energy transition, and threatening global financial meltdown.”

It is hoped that the national leaders who have travelled to New York last week will instruct their delegates at the UN General Assembly to heed the Secretary General’s call for unified action to address the world’s most urgent concerns.

Credit belongs to : www.mb.com.ph

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