Remarks by H.E. Mr. Abdulla Shahid, President of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly
30 November 2021
Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates,
I would like to welcome Ambassador Luigi Mattiolo to the General Assembly.
Ambassador Mattiolo briefed the membership on Italy’s G20 priorities last April, and today will debrief on the outcomes of the G20 Rome Summit.
Regular briefings from the G20 to the UN is an important mechanism to strengthen collaboration and cooperation.
The period since the last briefing of the G20 has been marked by COVID-19, particularly the rise of vaccine inequity, as well as COP26 and the need for climate ambition and action.
On both counts the G20 and United Nations must be in lockstep.
On COVID-19, we must simultaneously rectify the clear problems in ensuring equitable access to vaccines, while at the same time realign our recovery towards a more resilient, sustainable path.
On the first point, it is unfathomable that only about 5 per cent of Africans are fully vaccinated, while others roll out booster shots, and shots for less vulnerable groups.
I welcome the G-20 leaders’ agreement to work towards the global vaccination of at least 40% of the population by 2021 and 70% by mid-2022.
In support of such ambitions, I will be convening a High-level Meeting on Universal Vaccination on Thursday, 13 January 2022.
The meeting will provide an opportunity to review existing challenges in vaccine production and distribution and provide a platform to build synergies among existing strategies and initiatives.
I am counting on the support of the membership for this meeting.
Beyond vaccinations, we must look to a recovery that, quite simply, changes the game.
The principles of resilience and sustainability must colour our approach.
We cannot assume that the next pandemic, or the next crisis, is years away. It is likely far sooner.
Let us use this rare opportunity to realign priorities, to ensure that we address the gaps exposed by the pandemic on health, social systems, technological and financial access, inequalities, and the environment.
The 2030 Agenda is our best guide for such a resilient recovery. One that protects us from cascading and compounding risks due to our unsustainable relationship with nature.
Let us follow the path that it has laid out.
Colleagues, I think most will agree that COP26 did not go as far as we needed, though it was a step in the right direction.
Our work must now be focused on implementation. And on building momentum for the stronger commitments needed ahead of COP27.
The G20 can demonstrate clear leadership on climate change – pushing for the action and ambition required, as well as further support for climate finance.
I welcome the G20’s commitment to cooperate on the sharing of low carbon and renewable technologies. This will enable those countries that commit to phasing out investment in new coal capacity to do so.
Achieving the goal of 1.5 will require greater coordination than ever before.
The same must be said for efforts to protect biodiversity, restore life to degraded land and soils, and preserve the ocean.
In support of this, I will convene, in July, a ‘Moment for Nature’.
This event will enable Member States to reflect on the outcomes of the various Summit-level events on environment held during the 76th session and provide the much-needed political momentum for enhanced climate action on ground.
It will also help assess where action is lacking, what synergies can be built upon, and areas the international community must prioritize.
In ‘Our Common Agenda’, the Secretary-General has proposed holding a Biennial Summit between the Group of 20, the Economic and Social Council, the Secretary-General, and the heads of international financial institutions.
The goal of this will be a sustainable, inclusive, and resilient global economy
As President of the General Assembly, I have been requested to initiate a process of follow-up, to enable Member States to consider ‘Our Common Agenda’s various proposals, options and means of implementation.
I look forward to continuing to engage with the Membership on these discussions.
Change is only possible when we work in tandem. I thank the Government of Italy for keeping the General Assembly informed at the begging and end of your Presidency.
We look forward to welcoming the incoming President of the G20 to the General Assembly, in the coming year.