30 November 2021

Activities of Secretary-General in Italy, 28-31 October

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres departed New York on Thursday, 28 October, for Rome, where he arrived on Friday morning to attend the annual Group of Twenty (G20) Summit.

Before starting his official duties, the Secretary-General met with the Director-General of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), Qu Dongyu.

Later in the day, at the G20 Summit press centre the Secretary-General spoke to reporters and he said that “we are at a pivotal moment for our planet”.  On the eve of the twenty-sixth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26) in Glasgow, he said, all roads to success go through Rome.  But let’s be clear, he added — there is a serious risk that Glasgow will not deliver.

He urged the G20 to show the solidarity that people want and that our world so desperately needs — and this begins by rebuilding trust and credibility.  On vaccines, the Secretary-General called for support to the strategy presented by the World Health Organization (WHO) and coordination among Member States for the implementation of this strategy.

On climate, he stressed the need for a meaningful increase of adaptation in climate finance to the benefit of countries of the developing world, small island developing States and African countries, which are now suffering the impacts of climate change more than anywhere else.  He also emphasized that we must create conditions to allow for an effective reduction of emissions in this decade.

Later in the day, the Secretary-General held a series of bilateral meetings with the Italian hosts of the G20, including President Sergio Mattarella, Prime Minister Mario Draghi and the President of the Chamber of Deputies, Roberto Fico.  He thanked them for Italy’s critical leadership in strengthening multilateral cooperation on climate sustainable development as leaders of the G20 summit.

On Saturday morning, the Secretary-General attended the closed session opening of the G20 Summit.  He addressed the leaders during the first session entitled “Global Economy and Global Health”.

In his intervention, he urged leaders to show leadership to save lives, prevent further suffering, and enable a full global recovery.  The Secretary-General reiterated the importance of the G20 to adopt and coordinate action to support WHO’s vaccination plan.  The plan aims to get vaccines into the arms of 40 per cent of people in all countries by the end of this year — and 70 per cent by mid-2022.  Additionally, he encouraged the leaders to look at how we can simultaneously relaunch the global economy while fighting inequality, as well as restoring trust between developing and developed countries.

On the sidelines of the session, the Secretary-General had the opportunity to speak informally to a number of world leaders.

He also had a bilateral meeting with President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Before joining G20 leaders at the official dinner hosted by Italian President Sergio Matterella, the Secretary-General met with the leaders of the Community of San’Egidio.  He congratulated them for the mediation work they conduct in many parts of the world.

During the closed “Climate Change and Environment” session on Sunday, the Secretary-General reiterated to the gathered leaders that they have a particular responsibility to keep the 1.5-degree global warming goal alive, given that they collectively represent 80 per cent of global emissions.  The upcoming climate meeting in Glasgow can be a turning point towards a safer, greener world for our children and grandchildren.  But action is needed now.

Before flying off to Glasgow to attend the Climate Summit, the Secretary-General participated in the second closed session on “Sustainable Development”.  In his intervention, he underscored that today’s economic development is based on deep and growing inequalities, leaving billions of people behind.  That is why, he said, inclusive, sustainable development is vital to overcome the planetary emergencies of climate, biodiversity and pollution, and secure stable societies for the future.

Upon his departure, Secretary-General said in a tweet that while he welcomed the G20’s recommitment to global solutions, he departed Rome with his hopes unfulfilled — but at least, he added, they are not buried.  Moving on to Glasgow — at the COP26 — to keep the goal of 1.5 degrees alive and to implement promises on finance and adaptation for people and planet.

For information media. Not an official record.