HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
FRIDAY, 17 SEPTEMBER 2021
This morning, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, spoke at the Major Economies Forum convened by US President Joe Biden.
Mr. Guterres told participants that “the fight against climate change will only succeed if everyone in this room comes together to promote more ambition, more cooperation and more credibility. The world demands that you, as the leading economies of the world, take immediate action to lead us towards a sustainable and resilient future.”
“There is a high risk of failure of COP26,” the Secretary-General warned, adding that everyone must assume their responsibilities and be more ambitious on finance, adaptation and mitigation.
In his remarks he also referred to the newly-released Synthesis Report by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which says we need a 45 per cent cut in emissions by 2030 to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. However, the data shows that we’re on track for an increase of 16 per cent in emissions in 2030 compared to 2010 levels. This puts us on a catastrophic pathway to 2.7 degrees Celsius of heating.
In a statement issued this morning, the Secretary-General said that before COP 26 all nations should submit more ambitious nationally determined contributions and asked developed nations once more to finally deliver on the $100 billion commitment promised over a decade ago in support to developing countries.
CLIMATE LEADERS ROUNDTABLE
On Monday, at 9:00 a.m., the Secretary-General and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Northern Island, Boris Johnson, will hold an Informal Climate Leaders Roundtable on Climate Action. The Roundtable will address the gaps that remain on the actions urgently needed from national governments – especially the G20 – on mitigation, finance and adaptation.
We expect a stakeout afterwards with the Secretary-General and the Prime Minister right after the event. We do not expect to have a Noon Briefing that day. We may have UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi early in the afternoon here, but that is yet to be confirmed.
Also on Monday morning, there will be a Sustainable Development Goals [SDG] Moment in the General Assembly, which will include the band BTS.
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS
The Secretary-General appointed four new Sustainable Development Goals Advocates: Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi, STEM activist Valentina Munoz, Microsoft President Brad Smith and K-pop superstars Blackpink.
The SDG Advocates use their spheres of influence to reach new constituencies to keep the promise of the Sustainable Development Goals for people and for the planet. Together they will take on climate change, work to bridge the education digital divide and close the gap on gender equality, as well as working to promote and protect the rights of children.
SHANGHAI COOPERATION ORGANIZATION
This morning, by prerecorded video message, the Secretary-General spoke to the Summit of the Council of the Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization held in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.
He said that troubling developments in Afghanistan are causing profound political, economic, security and humanitarian challenges.
The Secretary-General said it is clear that the Afghan people want extreme poverty to be eradicated, jobs to become available, health and education services to be restored, and their lives and basic rights and freedoms to be protected. They want their country free of insecurity and terror.
The United Nations is committed to deliver for the Afghan people, the Secretary-General stressed.
This morning, the Security Council unanimously voted to extend the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan for another six months, until 17 March 2022.
The Security Council also held consultations on Somalia. The Secretary-General’s Special Representative, James Swan, briefed Council members.
As Somalis mark the one-year anniversary of the 17 September Agreement, the UN and our international partners said today they are increasingly alarmed that the escalating dispute between the President and Prime Minister will undermine Somalia’s stability and derail the electoral process.
We urge the President and the Prime Minister to resolve their differences immediately, avoid further unhelpful exchanges of public statements and personnel announcements, refrain from any action that could destabilize the security situation, and re-focus on concluding the overdue elections without further delay.
Our humanitarian colleagues tell us that following two weeks without access, aid workers managed to send 147 trucks into Tigray in Ethiopia between 5 and 7 September. More than 50 additional trucks are currently en route from Semera in Afar. However, as we said before, this continues to fall far short of the required supplies, with 100 trucks a day needed to sustain aid operations.
In addition to these challenges, many of the trucks bringing humanitarian aid into Tigray, primarily vehicles from private companies contracted by the World Food Programme and other agencies, have not returned. This is further impacting our ability to send relief items into the region. Among the reasons cited are lack of fuel to return as well as drivers fearing for their security.
We are urgently engaging with all parties, including local authorities in Tigray, to make sure any logistical issues that may be preventing the trucks from leaving Tigray are resolved.
Our Special Envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, concluded today his visit to Riyadh, where he met with Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, Vice-President Ali Mohsen, Speaker of the Parliament Sultan al Barakani, Prime Minister Maeen Abdul Malik and Foreign Minister Ahmed bin Mubarak.
During his meeting yesterday with President Hadi, Mr. Grundberg underlined his intention to listen to the parties and to engage in serious, sustained discussions on the way forward towards an inclusive and comprehensive political settlement that meets the aspirations of Yemenis.
The Special Envoy highlighted that a serious commitment by all parties to engage in good faith is a necessary first step in making progress on the UN’s peace efforts.
Mr. Grundberg also exchanged views with representatives of political parties on ways to reinvigorate the political process. The Special Envoy also met with the Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Nayef Al-Hajraf, Saudi officials and the ambassadors to Yemen from the P5 countries. In all engagements, the Special Envoy welcomed the clear engagement to actively support his mission and the willingness to work together to support a Yemeni-led political process.
Today, the UN received a donation of 300,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from the Government of China.
The vaccine, manufactured by SinoPharm, was granted WHO Emergency Use Listing earlier this year and will be distributed to UN personnel and peacekeepers through the UN system-wide COVID-19 vaccination programme.
The COVID-19 vaccination programme delivers vaccines to locations where access to vaccines is not possible through national vaccination programmes.
The donation, including the 18-month shelf life of the vaccine, will provide for the continuation of the programme, and support the UN's efforts to reach all UN personnel, peacekeepers, and implementing partners who have stayed to deliver on our critical mandates throughout this pandemic.
The donation comes at a very important time, following exhaustion of the vaccine stocks donated by the Government of India in March this year.
From Malaysia, the UN team there, led by Resident Coordinator Karima El Korri, continues to support the country’s participation in the COVAX Facility and the wider vaccination scheme to reach undocumented people, refugees and asylum-seekers.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF have supported the vaccine roll-out, procurement and logistics. To date, Malaysia has received close to 1.4 million doses of vaccines through COVAX. As of today, nearly 93 per cent of the adult population has been vaccinated with at least one dose and nearly 77 per cent has been fully vaccinated.
WHO, the International Organization on Migration and UNHCR are working closely with the health authorities and NGOs to coordinate and fund the vaccination of vulnerable and hard-to-reach people.
WHO has procured medical equipment and supplies for COVID-19 patients. UNICEF delivered 400 oxygen concentrators and 36,000 oxygen masks to two hospitals in one of the most impacted regions. UNHCR and IOM are supporting the vaccination of hundreds of refugees and migrants.
From Latin American and the Caribbean, our UN teams tell us that vaccines from COVAX arrived in Jamaica, Guatemala, Panama and Peru, and our UN teams are also working across the region to address vaccine hesitancy.
WORLD PATIENT SAFETY DAY
Today is World Patient Safety Day. This year, the Day is dedicated to the need to prioritize and address safety in maternal and newborn care, particularly around the time of childbirth, when most harm occurs.
INTERNATIONAL EQUAL PAY DAY
Tomorrow is an important day – it is International Equal Pay Day. In his message, the Secretary-General says that, by pushing care work out of the formal economy and into the home, the COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated the gender pay gap.
He points out that, despite equal pay laws, women earn an average of just 80 cents for every dollar men earn for work of equal value, adding that this figure is even less for women of colour and those with children.
The Secretary-General said that addressing the COVID-19 pandemic offers a generational opportunity to write a new social contract that upholds women’s human rights, including the right to equal pay. He stresses that this is a matter of justice and a responsibility for us all.
Lastly, on an artistic note, if you walked by the North Lawn this week, you may have noticed an artist and his team busy spraying paint on the grass.
The result is a giant land painting by the artist Saype, will be inaugurated tomorrow, at 11 a.m., with the Secretary-General and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, Ignazio Cassis.
The artwork is a gift from Switzerland to mark the 75th anniversary of the UN and the launch of the Common Agenda report.
This is not his first project on UN grounds. Saype has done a similar ephemeral artwork in front of the Palais des Nations in Geneva in June of last year.
Also, as a reminder, the Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, will launch In Their hands: Women Taking Ownership of Peace, a photo exhibition, in Brooklyn.