DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
FRIDAY, 23 JULY 2021
This morning, in Rome, the Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, met with Cardinal Peter Turkson from the Vatican. They discussed the UN Food Systems Summit, including the need for integration among all sectors and for implementation of the new actions agreed during the summit, in order to deliver progress on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
Also today, the Deputy Secretary-General held talks with the Italian Minister of Sustainable Infrastructures and Mobility, Enrico Giovannini. Ms. Mohammed welcomed Italy’s support for the Sustainable Development Goals and encouraged the use of the 2030 Agenda as a beacon for the design of the COVID-19 recovery efforts.
Following this, the Deputy Secretary-General met with Italy’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Luigi Di Maio. She emphasized the link between climate and food systems and the alignment between the Food Systems Summit and Italy’s G20 objectives.
She also underlined the need to move toward food systems capable of delivering healthy diets with greatly reduced environmental impacts.
The meeting was followed by a press briefing, where the Deputy Secretary-General said that Italy has long been a valued and important partner to the UN in support of global goals. She emphasized how Italy has shown enormous international solidarity and compassion despite the trials of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tomorrow, the Deputy Secretary-General will take part in a Farmer’s Market Event, where she will meet with farmers and will pay tribute to producers, particularly women, for their central role in food systems. She will then travel to London to attend the first day of the July Ministerial meeting convened by the incoming President of the Conference of Parties on Climate Change, Alok Sharma.
She will return to Rome on Sunday for the Pre-Summit of the UN Food Systems Summit, which will take place in a hybrid format from the 26th to the 28th of July.
And after my briefing, we will hear from Dr. Agnes Kalibata, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to the 2021 Food Systems Summit. She will brief you on the Pre-Summit of the UN Food Systems Summit. Dr. Kalibata will brief virtually from Rome.
Today at the Environment and Energy Ministers meeting of G20 nations in Naples, Italy, the UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, Patricia Espinosa, called on countries to provide the necessary leadership to hold the global average temperature rise to as close as possible to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
“There is no path to 1.5 degrees Celsius without the G20,” she said.
Ms. Espinosa also reminded developed countries of their pledge to mobilize $100 billion annually to developing nations by 2020, a commitment made more than a decade ago.
Only 97 countries have submitted updated Nationally Determined Contributions – or NDCs – that’s less than half of all signatory countries of the Paris Agreement. Ms. Espinosa called on G20 nations to show leadership by presenting more ambitious NDCs in line with science and urged nations and businesses to align their portfolios and activities to the goals of the Paris Agreement.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) today said that water-related hazards dominate the list of disasters in terms of both the human and economic toll over the past 50 years.
According to WMO’s Atlas of Mortality and Economic Losses from Weather, Climate and Water Extremes, of the top 10 disasters, the hazards that led to the largest human losses during the period have been droughts with 650,000 deaths, storms - 577,232 deaths, floods 58,700 deaths, and extreme temperature, 55,736 deaths. That Atlas will be published in September.
With regard to economic losses, the top 10 events include storms and floods.
The data shows that over the 50-year period, weather, climate and water hazards accounted for 50 per cent of all disasters, 45 per cent of all reported deaths and 74 per cent of all reported economic losses at the global level.
WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said that “no country – developed or developing – is immune. Climate change is here and now. It is imperative to invest more in climate change adaptation, and one way of doing this is to strengthen multi-hazard early warning systems.”
More than four million people, including one million refugees, are at immediate risk of losing access to safe water in Lebanon – that’s according to UNICEF. With the rapidly escalating economic crisis, shortages of funding, fuel and supplies such as chlorine and spare parts, UNICEF estimates that most water pumping will gradually cease across the country in the next four to six weeks.
If the public water supply system collapses, UNICEF estimates that water costs could skyrocket by 200 per cent a month when securing water from alternative or private water suppliers.
Also concerning Lebanon, I’d like to announce that the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, will be travelling to the Middle East from 25-30 July, where he will be visiting the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, UNIFIL.
Throughout his visit to Lebanon and Israel, he will hold meetings with Government officials and key stakeholders to discuss UNIFIL’s operations and priorities. He will also visit the UNIFIL area of operations and meet with the personnel of UNIFIL to thank them for their service in a challenging environment.
And you’d asked about yesterday’s Security Council consultations on Lebanon, which included briefings by Mr. Lacroix and by Joanna Wronecka, the Special Coordinator for Lebanon.
Focusing on the recent developments in Lebanon, Joanna Wronecka highlighted the country’s multiple and accumulating socio-economic, financial and political difficulties and their impact on the people.
She reiterated the UN’s calls for the formation of a fully empowered government that can put the country on the path to recovery. And the Special Coordinator added that the United Nations is doing what it can to mitigate the situation, but ultimately the responsibility for salvaging Lebanon lies in the hands of Lebanon’s leaders.
Speaking of the Security Council – today at 12:30, it will hold an open meeting on Cyprus. We have been told that the Permanent Representative of Cyprus will speak at the stakeout following that meeting.
We remain deeply concerned about the escalating violence in north-west Syria, which poses a growing risk to civilians.
Ongoing fighting has killed and injured dozens of civilians in recent weeks, including many women and children.
The latest reports indicate that, yesterday, shelling in Beiyloun village in southern rural Idlib killed seven civilians, including three children. Seven other civilians were injured, including a girl.
Such attacks raise further concerns about compliance with international humanitarian law, which requires the parties to take all feasible precautions to avoid and minimize civilian harm.
Yesterday, Geir Pedersen, the Special Envoy for Syria, met Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow and also spoke to the press there.
In his remarks, he said that he hoped that the common understanding that was made on humanitarian issues could also be developed into a more unified approach to the political process so that we can address all the issues in Security Council resolution 2254.
Our humanitarian colleagues are reiterating that while access within Tigray has improved, the road between Afar and the Tigray region, via Semera - the capital of the Afar region - remains restricted due to security reasons. This makes the movement of humanitarian personnel impossible for now, and also prevents food stocks, fuel and other humanitarian goods from entering Tigray.
The Afar Regional Government estimates that more than 54,000 people have been displaced from the districts of Yalo, Golina and Awra, due to clashes. There is a risk of further displacement in neighbouring districts should fighting continue to spread in the region.
The regional authorities are reportedly identifying school buildings in Semera to house displaced people while others are staying with relatives in Logia town.
Priority needs for the displaced people include food, non-food items, emergency shelter, health services, water, sanitation and hygiene.
About 200,000 people in the Afar region, mainly in the border areas with Tigray, have been severely affected since the start of the crisis last November. This is due to electricity and telecommunications blackouts, lack of banking services and movement restrictions.
New Government data released this week tells us that in the first half of the year, 237,000 people fled their homes to seek refuge in other parts of the country. This is a sharp increase compared to the 96,000 people registered during the second half of 2020.
In total, more than 1.3 million people have been displaced inside the country in the past two years.
UNHCR is also alarmed by the increase in the number of people seeking safety across the country’s borders. In the past six months, the total number of refugees and asylum seekers from Burkina Faso has nearly doubled, reaching 38,000 people across the region.
UNHCR is calling for concerted action towards peace and stability in the Sahel region, as well as for additional resources to address the growing humanitarian needs in Burkina Faso and neighbouring countries.
Yesterday, El Salvador received 1.5 million vaccine doses [Moderna] as part of a second shipment from the United States through the COVAX mechanism. With this delivery, the country has received 3,417,480 doses of vaccine via COVAX.