‘The green economy is the future,’ UN chief says in Beijing, urging climate solutions that strengthen economies, protect the environment

Winning the race against climate change to keep our planet livable and on a healthy trajectory requires action rooted in sustainable solutions aligned with the Paris Agreement and the UN-driven 2030 Agenda for sustainable development, Secretary-General António Guterres said on Saturday.

UN China/Zhao YunUN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attends the Leader’s Roundtable on Promoting Green and Sustainable Development to Implement the 2030 Agenda in Beijing, China

“To put it simply, we need green development.  We need sustainable development.  And we need it now,” the UN chief told world leaders in Beijing, discussing ways to boost green development as part of a conference on China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Painting a sobering picture of the challenges ahead – for the planet and the broader effort to secure improved human well-being while reducing environmental risks – Mr. Guterres recalled that the last four years were the hottest on record and that natural disasters have wreaked havoc in nearly every region of the globe.

“No country or community is immune. And, as we know, the poor and vulnerable are the first to suffer, and the worst hit,” said Mr. Guterres, warning that the climate crisis threatens decades of progress and jeopardizes all our plans for inclusive, sustainable development.

“And the clock is ticking.  Science has clearly told us that we have only 12 years for this transformation, if we want to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius and avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”

Yet the race to head off a climate catastrophe and ensure a safe and secure planet for all can be won, he said, with global action rooted in solutions that are sustainable and aligned with the landmark Paris accord and the UN 2030 Agenda.

To help generate ambition and to showcase practical, feasible and ambitious solutions to meet globally agreed goals, Mr. Guterres is convening a Climate Action Summit in New York on 23 September.

UN China/Zhao YunLeader’s Roundtable on Promoting Green and Sustainable Development to Implement the 2030 Agenda was held in Beijing, China on 27, April, 2019

“I am calling on leaders to come with concrete, realistic plans to enhance their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by 2020,” he said, referring to efforts by each country under the Paris Agreement to reduce national emissions and adapt faster to the impacts of climate change.

The Secretary-General said these plans must show how greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced by 45 per cent over the next decade and how the world can get to net zero emissions globally by 2050 through strong mitigation and adaptation measures.

“It is why I have been asking leaders around the world to adopt carbon pricing that reflects the true cost of emissions, end subsidies on fossil fuels, and stop construction of new coal plants beyond 2020,” he explained, noting that he is also counting on leaders to make sure their plans include women as key decision-makers and address the disproportionate impacts many women experience from climate change.

In all this, Chinese leadership will continue to be crucial, said Mr. Guterres, stressing that new renewable energy jobs in China now outnumber those created in the oil and gas industries.  China also played a pivotal role in building bridges and securing an agreement at last December’s UN Climate Conference in Katowice – and will host next year’s second Global Sustainable Transport Conference.

The Belt and Road Initiative, with its huge volume of investment, said, Mr. Guterres, is an opportunity to propel the world into a green future and help countries transition to low-carbon, clean-energy pathways with new infrastructure that is sustainable and equitable.

“The momentum for transformational change is growing,” said the Secretary-General, stressing that the “green economy is the future,” and more governments, cities and businesses than ever understand that climate solutions strengthen economies and protect the environment at the same time.

New technologies are delivering energy at a lower cost than the fossil-fuel-driven economy, he continued, and solar and onshore wind are now the cheapest sources of new power, in virtually all major economies.

UN chief hopeful for Libya, after Quartet meeting in Tunis

Secretary-General António Guterres said he is hopeful for a solution to the eight-year long conflict in Libya, after a high-level meeting in Tunis, Tunisia, on Saturday with officials from the Arab League, the European Union and the African Union — the group known as the ‘Libya Quartet.’

UN Photo/Ahmed GaaloulJoint press conference of the Libya Quartet on 31 March, in Tunis. From left to right: Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy; UN chief António Guterres; Ahmad Abulgheit, Arab League Secretary-General; Moussa Faki, African Union Commission Chairperson; and Ghassan Salamé, UN Special Representative in Libya.    30 March 2019Peace and Security

“If is there is a word that defines what I think and feel about Libya today that word is hope. This is a moment of hope for Libya,” said the UN Secretary-General in a press conference after the meeting.  “I have hope because I believe that it is possible to have now a Libyan-led political process aiming at the solution of the Libyan problems.”

The meeting in Tunis included Federica Mogherini, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Ahmad Abulgheit, Secretary-General of the Arab League, Moussa Faki, Chairperson of the African Union Commission; and Ghassan Salamé, UN Special Representative in Libya.

Announcing that the meeting had led to “intensified forms of cooperation among our four organizations to work more and more together in support of a Libyan-led political process,” the UN chief said he hoped “the Libyan leaders will understand the enormous responsibility that they have, that they will be able to come together in solutions for the future of Libya, to the benefit of the Libyan people and to the benefit of the whole region as we all know the impact of Libya in the Sahel and many other parts of Africa, even in Europe”.

He mentioned three key steps for a successful outcome: the Libyan National Conference to take place in two weeks; the upcoming conference of peace and reconciliation to take place in Addis Ababa, headquarters of the African Union; elections “at the right moment for the country to re-establish a normal political life.”

The UN Secretary-General acknowledged that there are difficulties, but stressed that a window of opportunity has been created by the recent historic meeting in Abu Dhabi between Libya’s Prime Minister, Faiez Serraj, and a key rival military leader, the Commander of the Libyan National Army, Khalifa Haftar.

Citing the recent peace deals between Ethiopia and Eritrea, in South Sudan, in the Central African Republic and elsewhere, Mr. Guterres said there is a “wind of hope,” not only in Libya.

“People are starting to show their leaders that they want peace.” he stated. “It’s not for us to define, because we’re not Libyans, so the Libyans themselves define the precise definition of the solution, but we see signs that the [divide in Libya], for the first time has the possibility to be overcome.”

In a tweet, UN Special Representative Salamé called on the Libyan people “not to waste the opportunity” of the recommendations adopted during this high-level meeting and “not to close this window to build a unified, civil, sovereign, capable, fair state.”

When he briefed the UN Security Council last week from Tripoli, he said that the UN mission there, UNSMIL, was working to both “prevent recent developments and tensions on the ground from escalating”, and “pivot to stability and a political compact” which would end the country’s crisis.

For most of the period since the 2011 overthrow of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi, the Mediterranean nation has been contested by various armed factions, leading to a breakdown of the economy, infrastructure and security across the country.

The Quartet meeting and press conference coincided with the kick-off in Libya of municipal elections in nine municipalities across the country. 

‘Address root causes’ of instability in Mali through ‘aid and support’ urges UN chief


Appearing before the Security Council on Friday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that the only way to prevent increased violence and instability in Mali is to tackle root causes such as grinding poverty; climate change and competition for resources; underdevelopment, and a fundamental lack of opportunities for young people.

MINUSMA/Harandane DickoMalian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta receives the UN Security Council delegation at Palais de Koulouba in Bamako. March 2019.    29 March 2019Peace and Security

Although the security situation in Mali is deteriorating, Mr. Guterres pointed to important steps taken in the last six months, to implement a stalled peace agreement signed by the Government and armed groups, in 2015.

These include the integration of over 1,400 former combatants into the Malian army; the establishment of interim administrations in all five northern regions; and the effective participation of women in the peace process.

I call on all national, regional and international actors to step up efforts to tackle the multiple threats facing Mali and the entire Sahel region – UN chief Guterres

The Malian Government has been seeking to restore stability and rebuild following a series of setbacks since early 2012 that fractured the country, including a military coup d’état, renewed fighting between Government forces and Tuareg rebels, and the seizure of its northern territory by radical extremists. 

Noting the launch of a comprehensive political and administrative reform process by the Government, the UN chief encouraged leaders in the north-west African nation to promote reconciliation and inter-communal dialogue, “aimed at inclusivity, strengthening resilience and creating social cohesion from the ground up.”

He also welcomed efforts by the Government to make the process as broad as possible, including political leaders across the spectrum, armed groups and movements involved in the peace process – both pro-Government and opposition – as well as experts and members of civil society.

Mr. Guterres urged all Malian parties to redouble their efforts, use dialogue to address their differences, and listen to the voices of Malian people, and called on the international community to continue its support.

Recalling the ongoing humanitarian challenges in Mali, where he visited restive areas north of the capital last year, the Secretary-General said that 2.4 million people in the country need food assistance, and that, in northern and central regions, there are just three health workers per 10,000 people. 800 schools are closed, and nearly a quarter of a million children have no access to education.

We ‘cannot stand by’ while Mali deteriorates

He praised the UN Integrated Strategic Framework adopted inside the country, international initiatives underway, such as the Sahel Allliance, launched by France, Germany and the European Union (EU), which aims to invest nine billion euros by 2022 across the vast region, badly effected by rising extremism, trans-national crime and economic instability.

Such initiatives are in themselves, “insufficient” he warned the Council, calling on “all to strengthen efforts to address the root causes of instability and insecurity in Mali through humanitarian aid and support for sustainable development, including programmes on climate change mitigation and adaptation.”

Mali’s recovery is “a test of the international community’s ability to mobilize in support of peace and stability. This is not a question of charity; it is one of enlightened self-interest. Security in Mali has an impact on the entire Sahel, which in turn affects global stability.”

We cannot stand by while the humanitarian situation deteriorates, development gaps increase, and security risks become unsustainable”, said Mr. Guterres. “I call on all national, regional and international actors to step up efforts to tackle the multiple threats facing Mali and the entire Sahel region.”

Guterres lauds UN peacekeeping, highlights need to bridge ‘critical’ gaps

United Nations Peacekeeping missions are working flat out and need to be made “stronger and safer”, Secretary-General António Guterres told a major ministerial pledging conference on Friday, stressing that “critical” gaps must be bridged, so they can deliver better, on behalf of the people they serve.

MINUSMASecretary-General António Guterres awards a medal to a peacekeeper from the Nigerian contingent of MINUSMA during the wreath-laying ceremony to honour peacekeepers killed in the line of duty, Bamako, May 2018.    29 March 2019Peace and Security

“Across the decades, our peacekeeping operations have helped countries from Liberia and Sierra Leone to Timor Leste and Cambodia, transition from conflict to peace”, he said on Friday at the third key UN Peacekeeping Ministerial meeting, this time taking place at UN Headquarters in New York, to reaffirm and strengthen commitments to ‘blue helmets’ and others who work in peacekeeping missions across the world.

“But,” he continued, “as conflicts become more complex and high-risk, our operations must keep pace”. 

Secretary-General António Guterres opens the 2019 UN Peacekeeping Ministerial meeting to reaffirm and strengthen commitments to ‘blue helmets’ and others who work in peacekeeping missions across the world., by UN Photo/Cia Pak

After moment of silence for the 27 UN peacekeepers lost who lost their lives in 2018 and for “all who have died in the service of peace”, he stressed that making missions stronger and safer is a key element of his Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) initiative, along with refocusing peacekeeping with more realistic expectations, and mobilizing greater support for political solutions.

The UN chief thanked the more than 150 governments that have signed the Statement of Shared Commitments so far which, among other things, encompassed advancing political solutions and improving peacekeepers’ safety and security.

“We are already seeing results”, said Mr. Guterres, pointing to a “significant reduction” last year in the number of peacekeepers killed, citing as examples the “more agile and more proactive” missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the Central African Republic (CAR); and “for the first time ever”, verified military units on standby, which can be deployed in less than 60 days.

The Secretary-General also highlighted some “critical” gaps in UN missions that must be bridged, such as the urgent need in the Mali mission (MINUSMA), for armored personnel carriers and in CAR (MINUSCA) for 24/7 evacuation helicopters that can operate from remote areas.

Elsewhere, armed utility helicopters are needed; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance units; quick reaction forces, and airborne medical evacuation teams.

He urged everyone to contribute, with the assurance that “they will be utilized effectively and efficiently”.

Mr. Guterres also pushed for triangular partnerships and joint contingents, in which one group of governments provides equipment and training, and another provides troops and police; training to address safety and security challenges; and better equipment and local engagement.

“Women peacekeepers and civilian staff are essential”, he also stressed, flagging that the UN has “almost doubled the number of female staff officers and observers” since the November 2017 ministerial meeting in Vancouver.

However, he noted that so far this year, women account for only four per cent of military peacekeepers, indicating that he would present a new strategy to the Security Council next month to increase the numbers of female uniformed personnel.

“Only our continued strong partnership can help us advance lasting peace and protection for those we serve”, concluded the Secretary-General.

‘Proud to be at the helm of peacekeeping’

Taking the podium, UN peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix said that the more than 110 Member State participants gathered in New York, demonstrated “the deep and widespread commitment to peacekeeping, by Governments across the world”. 

He highlighted four priority areas to focus on “how we are fulfilling” A4P commitments, pointing first to the investment being made by the UN in solutions and developing regional peace process strategies.

Citing several examples, such as partnering with the African Union in CAR on the February peace agreement, Mr. Lacroix said that “real progress” was being made.

“We cannot achieve lasting peace without our partners” he stressed, appealing for support to political solutions and peace agreement implementation.

Explaining that missions are being reconfigured to be more mobile and proactive, he said there were critical shortfalls, including a lack of helicopters, and other key resources that must be addressed.

Thirdly, he pointed to the link between peacekeepers’ performance and their security, which includes “a renewed commitment” to implementing the concrete recommendations of A4P on improving the security of ‘blue helmets’.

Finally, he outlined the UN’s strong commitment to increasing the number of women peacekeepers and ensuring women’s full and meaningful participation in political processes.

“Increasing the number of women soldiers and police deployed to peacekeeping mission is an operational imperative”, Mr. Lacroix underscored, applauding those that have recruited, trained and nominated of female peacekeepers.

The UN peacekeeping chief concluded by thanking the Member States for their “unwavering support”, saying “I am proud to be at the helm of peacekeeping, pride which is mirrored in each and every one of the women and men serving.”

Pledges announced at Peacekeeping Ministerial on Uniformed Capabilities, Performance and Protection

  • Sweden – Specialized Infantry Company to MINUSMA for 2020; a Mobile Training Team to MINUSMA and courses at the Nordic Center for Gender in Military Operations.
  • South Korea – Training pledges and offer to host the next Peacekeeping Ministerial meeting.
  • Nigeria – Quick Reaction Force, Force Protection Company, Engineer Company, Signal Company or Military Police Company.
  • Mexico – First ever Mexican military unit to UN peacekeeping operations (for 2020)
  • Guatemala – Special Forces Company.
  • Egypt – Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Company for MINUSMA, Special Forces Company.
  • Ireland – Expand training support to other trooop contributing countries, including on first aid, disabling improvised explosive devices and mine awareness.
  • Norway – Specialized Police Team to MINUSMA.
  • Indonesia – Long-range Reconnaissance Patrol Unit for MINUSMA.
  • Pakistan – New units and pledges to organize a Female Military Observers Course, Counter-Improvised Explosive Device training, and other trainings.
  • El Salvador – Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Aviation Unit for MINUSMA.
  • Rwanda – Infantry Battalion available for Rapid Deployment.