29 November 2021

Recognizing China’s Role, Secretary-General Says Africa Needs Global Solidarity, More Support to End COVID-19 Crisis, Conflicts, in Video Message for Cooperation Forum

Following is the text of UN Secretary‑General António Guterres’ video message to the eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, in Dakar today:

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to join you for this eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.  I thank President Macky Sall and President Xi Jinping for inviting me.

It is clear to me that our efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals will only succeed if Africa succeeds.  As we progress towards the 2030 deadline, the people of Africa must not be left behind.  Solidarity and cooperation are essential.  Developed countries have a particular responsibility to lead.

But South-South and triangular cooperation efforts are increasingly gaining ground to advance sustainable development, eradicate poverty and hunger, and reduce inequalities.  Which is why this Forum is so important.  You meet at a critical juncture in human history.

Great strides have been made around the world — especially in China — on reducing extreme poverty.  But our objectives for a sustainable future remain in jeopardy, not least because of the existential threat of climate change, which is disproportionately affecting many parts of Africa.

At the same time, the COVID‑19 pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing inequalities and challenges and exposed new ones.  Health systems are overburdened, and economies are struggling.  Inroads against poverty are being reversed.

Africa is the last in the global queue for COVID‑19 vaccines.  Less than 10 per cent of people are fully vaccinated.  This is not just a risk for Africa but for the entire world as the virus is left free to multiply and mutate.  I repeat my call for global solidarity to end this crisis.  What has happened with vaccines in the world is immoral.

Africa also needs solidarity and support to end conflicts and complex security and governance challenges.  Insurgencies, coups and unrest are symptoms.  They are a warning of the dangers of failing to provide access to essential social services, safety nets and the dividends of peaceful economic progress.

Recognizing the role of China, my appeal today is for greater support for Africa from the international community as a whole — for COVID‑19 recovery, for climate adaptation and mitigation, and for peaceful sustainable development.

As I outlined in my Common Agenda report, we need to embrace global solidarity and find new ways to work together.  That includes a stronger and more inclusive multilateralism and more cooperation in addressing today’s complex global challenges.

This Forum provides a strong example, and I commend your commitment — from both China and Africa — to deepening partnerships through the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable and Africa’s Agenda 2063.

The top priority must be ending the COVID‑19 crisis.  In this context, I encourage partnerships to allow for a quantum leap in the delivery of vaccines to the millions of African people who are still denied this basic lifesaving measure.  I also urge you to take bold action to address the growing climate emergency that is increasing hunger and food insecurity throughout the African continent.

We must keep working together to promote economic development and better standards of living — and expand efforts to promote resilient, sustainable economies in Africa, able to contribute to peace and security and to the flourishing of human rights.

At its root, this means investing in human capital.  People need reliable, equitable and inclusive public services — including education, health and social protection — that will help shield them from external shocks such as COVID‑19 and climate disruption.  Access to adequate development financing can be a game changer.

I commend this Forum for its commitment to a greener, more peaceful and more prosperous future for China and Africa’s people.  I wish you a productive meeting and I thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.