U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Friday that global divisions are growing, risking catastrophic fragmentation and confrontation.
He told reporters at the G20 summit in New Delhi that the gathering’s theme - One Earth, One Family, One Future - resonates today not just as an ideal but as an indictment of the times.
“Because if we are indeed one global family – we today resemble a rather dysfunctional one,” he said. “Divisions are growing, tensions are flaring up and trust is eroding – which together raise the specter of fragmentation, and ultimately, confrontation.”
He said such divisions are very concerning in the best of times, but in the present, “it spells catastrophe.”
Guterres noted a list of challenges facing the international community, including accelerating climate change, a multiplicity of wars and conflicts, growing poverty and hunger, and the risks from new technologies. He emphasized that the outdated multilateral institutions of the post-World War II era need to evolve to meet 21st-century challenges.
“We need effective international institutions rooted in 21st-century realities and based on the U.N. Charter and international law,” he said. “That is why I have been advocating for bold steps to make those global institutions truly universal and representative of today’s realities, and more responsive to the needs of developing economies.”
Later this month, Guterres will convene summits on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly to address climate action, sustainable development, and pandemic prevention and preparedness.
He hopes to get leaders, particularly from G20 nations, which are responsible for 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions, to make bold commitments, including ending all licensing or funding of new fossil fuel projects and fulfilling financing pledges to help developing economies mitigate and adapt to climate change.
On the development front, the secretary-general is aiming for an ambitious stimulus of at least $500 billion a year toward the U.N.’s sustainable development goals. Many of the 17 goals that are focused on ending poverty are off-track to meet targets by 2030.
“All of this is within reach, but it will take all hands,” he said. “No nation, no region, no group – not even the G20 – can do it alone. We must act together as one family to save our one Earth and safeguard our one future.”