New York

20 November 2020

Secretary-General's opening remarks at press stakeout prior to the G20 Summit

A very good afternoon to all of you. 
This weekend, G20 leaders will meet as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage our world.
I will take part and my main message is simple: 
We need solidarity and cooperation.
And we need concrete action now — especially for the most vulnerable. 
We must advance on two fronts:
First, recovering in a way that is inclusive — bringing everyone along.
Second, recovering in a way that is sustainable — meaning, above all, stepped-up climate action.
The recent breakthroughs on COVID-19 vaccines offer a ray of hope.
But that ray of hope needs to reach everyone. 
That means ensuring that vaccines are treated as a global public good — accessible and affordable to everyone, everywhere.  A people’s vaccine.

This is not a “do-good” exercise.
It is the only way to stop the pandemic dead in its tracks. 
Solidarity is indeed survival. 
The ACT-Accelerator and its COVAX Facility are the vehicles to get us there.
Over the past seven months, countries have invested $10 billion in the effort to develop vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics.  
But $28 billion more are needed — including $4.2 billion before the end of the year.
This funding is critical for mass manufacturing, procurement and delivery of new COVID-19 vaccines and tools around the world.  

G20 countries have the resources.
I am urging all of them to fully support the ACT-Accelerator.
Unfortunately, there is no vaccine for misinformation.
Vaccine myths and wild conspiracies continue to spread on social media. 
Our UN communications networks are working to build vaccine confidence with factual, reliable and persuasive content — and reaching out to social media platforms to strengthen public trust. 
All of these efforts are vital to save lives and provide an exit strategy out of this global economic and human crisis.
Across the board, I am issuing an SOS for the needs of developing countries.
Since day one, I have pushed for a massive rescue package equivalent to at least 10 per cent of the global economy.

Developed countries can afford to provide enormous relief for their own societies —and they are doing so.
But the developing world is on the precipice of financial ruin and escalating poverty, hunger and untold suffering.
We see tremendous debt vulnerabilities emerging, especially among commodity- and tourism-dependent economies, including middle-income countries, particularly small island states.
I am calling on G20 leaders to increase the financial resources available to the International Monetary Fund, including through a new allocation of Special Drawing Rights and a voluntary reallocation of unused Special Drawing Rights.  
The G20 extended the Debt Service Suspension Initiative for six months and adopted a common framework for debt treatments.

These are welcome steps — but more is needed.

I am pushing for a further extension through the end of 2021 and, critically, to expand the scope of these initiatives to all developing and middle-income countries in need.

And we need to build a global architecture to enhance debt transparency and sustainability.

A domino effect of bankruptcies could devastate the global economy. 

We cannot let the COVID pandemic lead to a debt pandemic. 

Recovery must be aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. 

There are troubling signs.  As of September, the rescue packages of G20 countries have committed 50 percent more in funding in support of fossil fuels than on low-carbon energy. 
It is madness to borrow money to heat up a planet living on borrowed time. 
At the same time, we also have hopeful news on the climate front. 
A great and growing global coalition for net zero emissions by 2050 is taking shape.
By early next year, countries representing more than 65 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions — and more than 70 per cent of the world economy — are very likely to have made ambitious commitments to carbon neutrality. 
These commitments are sending a clear signal to markets, institutional investors and decision-makers. 
They must act now to:
Put a price on carbon.  
To end fossil fuel subsidies.  
To stop construction of new coal power plants.
To invest in resilient infrastructure.
To shift the tax burden from income to carbon, from taxpayers to polluters. 
To ensure mandatory financial reporting on exposure to climate risks.
To integrate the goal of carbon neutrality into all economic and fiscal policies and decisions. 
And to implement the necessary measures – such as social protection and re-skilling -- for a just transition towards decent jobs.
I firmly believe that 2021 can be a new kind of leap year — the year of a quantum leap towards carbon neutrality.  
We must all make that leap together.

It will not be possible without developing countries. They will need significant support.
Here, too, solidarity is survival.
This means taking into account, in good faith, the common but differentiated responsibilities of one and all, and accompanying developing countries in the adoption and the achievement of ambitious goals.
For this, we need developed countries to fulfill their climate finance commitments.
G20 countries must take decisive action in the boards of multilateral, regional, and national development banks, to urge them to collaborate, provide substantial concessional climate finance to developing countries, including for adaptation and resilience, and re-think their mobilization potential to unlock the trillions held by institutional investors.
Even as we strive to mitigate emissions in the future, we need to cope with the impacts happening here and now.  
Adaptation to present and future climate impacts — particularly for least developed countries and small island developing states —cannot be the forgotten component of climate action.
From health to the economy to the climate and beyond, we are confronting the biggest set of global challenges in generations. 
The decisions we make in the coming months will shape the lives of generations to come. 
We face epic policy tests.  But ultimately, there is a moral test. 
The trillions of dollars needed for COVID recovery is money that we are borrowing from future generations.  Every last penny.
We cannot use those resources to lock in policies that burden them with a mountain of debt on a broken and dangerous planet. 
We have the opportunity to not simply reset the world but to transform it.
A sustainable world will create new jobs, better infrastructure and a resilient future.
An inclusive world will help ensure that people can enjoy the full respect of their human rights and live with dignity on a healthy planet.
Now it’s time to build.

To coordinate.  To cooperate.  And to act. 
We don’t have a moment to lose.
And I thank you for your attention.