United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres arrived in the Russian Federation from New York on Thursday, 6 June, in order to participate in the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum.
On the same day, the Secretary-General spoke at the opening of the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum. Speaking at an interactive panel, he drew attention to the need to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, noting that there are several factors — including slowing economic growth and trade conflicts — that are obstacles to realizing those Goals.
He underscored the need to provide education to prepare people better for the jobs of the future, saying that we need to base things on lifelong learning and we need to create a new generation of safety nets for many people who have difficulties adapting.
The Secretary-General added that climate change is a major threat to us all and a major limitation to our capacity to deliver in relation to the Goals.
In the afternoon, he met with the Rector of MGIMO University and President of the United Nations Association of Russia, Anatoly Torkunov.
He also had a brief meeting with the President of the Republic of Moldova, Igor Dodon.
The Secretary-General then met with the heads and members of the delegations of the United Nations entities participating in the Forum, followed by a group photo.
Later that afternoon, the Chairwoman of the Federation Council, Valentina Matviyenko, welcomed the Secretary-General at the Tauride Palace.
On Thursday evening, he visited the Russian Museum and attended a performance at Saint Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre.
On Friday, 7 June, the Secretary-General met with Ruslan Edelgeriyev, Adviser to the President of the Russian Federation and Special Presidential Representative on Climate Issues.
Later, he had a meeting with the President of Bulgaria, Rumen Radev, followed by a working luncheon hosted by Sergey Lavrov, Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation.
In the late afternoon, the Secretary-General spoke at the plenary session of the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum. He said that the Forum embodies a twenty-first century truth: global challenges require global solutions. No country, and no organization, can do it alone, he said; we need political leaders, the business world, scientists, scholars, philanthropists and civil society to join hands in addressing shared threats and pursuing common opportunities.
He told Forum participants that we need a global economy that works for all and creates opportunities for all, adding that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development points the way.
The Secretary-General underscored that we must address the global climate emergency. We are in a race against time, he warned, and we are losing the race; yet as global warming speeds up, political will is slowing down.
He also discussed the impact of new technologies, saying that our shared challenge is to reduce digital inequality, build digital capacity and ensure that new technologies are on our side and are a force for good. (See Press Release SG/SM/19615.)
Later that day, the Secretary-General met with President Vladimir Putin.
In remarks to the press after the meeting, the Secretary-General underlined “the very important role that Russia plays in support of multilateralism and the UN — support that is even more important in difficult times we are living in”.
He said that he was extremely grateful for the intense consultations that the United Nations has been able to maintain with the Government of the Russian Federation on the different crisis situations that we have around the world, from Syria to Libya to the Central African Republic to Yemen.
The Secretary-General returned to New York on Saturday 8 June.