UN Headquarters

18 June 2021

Opening remarks at press encounter on the Appointment of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to a Second Term of Office

António Guterres

Ladies and gentlemen of the media, Thank you very much for your presence. 

It is an enormous pleasure to be with all of you today.   

I am humbled but also energized by today’s decision of the General Assembly.   

I take on the responsibility of serving a second term as Secretary-General with profound gratitude and a deep commitment to work together to advance the UN Charter at a time of great peril and promise. 

We are at a crossroads, with consequential choices before us.  

It can go either way: breakdown or breakthrough.   

Breakdown and perpetual crisis — or breakthrough leading to a greener, safer and better future for all.  

I will do everything in my power to push for breakthroughs.   

I believe there are reasons to be hopeful.  

The pandemic has revealed our shared vulnerability, our inter-connectedness and the absolute need for collective action.  

Our biggest challenge — and at the same time our greatest opportunity — is to use this crisis as a chance to turn things around, to pivot to a world that learns its lessons, recovers fairer, greener and more sustainably, and forges ahead with much more effective global cooperation to address global concerns.  

The Vision Statement I presented lays out the details for my second term.  

The driving theme is prevention — prevention in all its aspects — from conflict, climate change, pandemics to poverty and inequality.  

Indeed, our success in finding solutions to interlinked problems depends on our ability to anticipate, prevent and prepare for major risks to come.  

That means more innovation, more inclusion and more foresight.  

It means more investment in the global public goods that sustain us all.  

All of this requires a reinvigorated multilateralism for the new era, based on principles of equity and solidarity.  

Drilling down, I see ten inter-related imperatives for action.   

It starts with mounting a massive and enduring response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences. 

Our single most immediate test will be effectively overcoming COVID-19 and equipping the world to prevent and be better prepared for future pandemics and other existential threats.   

Yet again, we see developing and many middle-income countries being left behind.  They require massive support.  

The virus is spreading faster than vaccines. 

We need an all-out effort to ensure vaccines for everyone everywhere — and we need it now.  

Second, we must leave no stone unturned in the search for peace and security. 

This is fundamental in an increasingly fragmented peace and security context, impacted by geopolitical divides and the constantly changing nature of conflicts.  

Third, we need to make peace with nature and press for climate action.  

Our world faces a triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature loss and pollution. This triple crisis is our number one existential threat. We need an urgent, all-out effort to turn things around.  

Fourth, we must turbocharge the Decade of Action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and a more equitable world. 

The struggle against inequality is at the core of a new globalization that is fairer, more inclusive, sustainable and human-centric. We will advance our efforts to integrate work within the UN system that straddles across peace and security, sustainable development and humanitarian action, firmly underpinned by human rights. 

Fifth, human rights must be central. 

My Call to Action for Human Rights lays out a pathway for mainstreaming a human rights culture and prism within the UN. 

Sixth, we must take gender equality to the next level. 

Gender inequality and discrimination against women and girls are the most prevalent injustice across the globe. The world needs a new push for women’s leadership and equal participation.   

I will build on our progress in promoting gender equality in all areas of our work. 

Seventh, we must rise to the challenge of digital transformation. 

Advances in technology and science have left no aspect of life untouched. We are all faced with a digital divide that is turning into a digital Grand Canyon. The aim must be an open, free and secure digital future. Our digital roadmap launched last year points the way. 

Eighth, we will advance multilateralism and our common agenda. 

A future of peace and problem solving requires an embrace of international cooperation and solidarity.   

In September, responding to the UN75 Declaration, I will present a report on how to advance “our common agenda” to address present and future challenges.  

Ninth, we will embark on a United Nations 2.0 — building on our reform efforts to date, we will strive for a more integrated, cohesive and joined up UN that also actively brings in outside networks.  
Tenth, and underpinning all our efforts, is the focus on people — bettering the lives of individuals, families and communities.  Reaffirming the dignity and worth of the human person.  Rekindling a strong commitment to shared and enduring values.   

The Charter lights the way. 

I pledge to honour it every day to restore trust and to inspire hope. 

Thank you very much.