UN Chief reviews 2022 activities, promises peace in 2023

Antonio Guterres, United Nations Secretary General on Monday did a rundown of the organization’s activities in 2022 at the UN end-of-year press conference, examining key issues that have affected the global space in the year, and solutions proffered.

“Our world faced many trials and tests in 2022 – some familiar, others we might not have imagined just one year ago,” Guiterres said while giving the highlights of the year. “There may be plenty of reasons for despair. Geopolitical divides have made global problem solving ever more difficult – sometimes impossible”

Guterres acknowledged that  2022 was filled with a lot of challenges ranging from the geopolitical divide, cost of living crisis, gender inequalities, debt servicing and poverty.

“The cost-of-living crisis is hitting hard and inequalities are growing – affecting the world’s women and girls the most. Most of the world’s poorest countries find themselves on what one could call, “debt row,”  staring down the abyss of insolvency and default. This year alone their debt service payments skyrocketed 35 percent–the largest increase in decades. The poor are getting poorer”, he said.

He then further spoke about solutions the UN has provided to issues that has affected the world, from the COP15 UN Biodiversity Conference, the role of African Union to broker peace in Ethiopia that led to the cessation of hostilities and implementation of agreements, dialogue for the resolution of the crisis in Democratic Republic of Congo.

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“Delegates at the COP15 UN Biodiversity Conference in Montreal agreed on a new Global Biodiversity Framework. We are finally starting to forge a peace pact with nature. This Framework is an important step for determined diplomacy and I urge all countries to deliver.  We are also seeing a measure of progress to help address some, unfortunately not all, but some of the world’s festering conflicts.”

“Much more, in any case,  must be done in all situations.  But diplomacy has helped pull several conflicts from the brink. In Ethiopia, efforts by the African Union to broker peace are a reason for hope. A cessation of hostilities and implementation agreements are in place.  A pathway to assistance in the northern part of the country is emerging. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, diplomatic efforts led by Angola and the East African Community have created a framework for political dialogue to resolve the crisis in the eastern region of the country,” he said.

Guterres also spoke about the impact of the Russian-Ukraine conflict on global food security and the efforts of the UN to ensure steady grain and fertilizer supplies from Ukraine to global markets.

“And even in the brutal war in Ukraine, we have seen the power of determined, discreet diplomacy to help people and tackle unprecedented levels of global food insecurity. Despite ongoing challenges, the Black Sea Grain initiative to facilitate exports of food and fertilizers from Ukraine—and a Memorandum of Understanding for unimpeded exports of Russian food and fertilizers to global markets—are making a difference.

“Over 14 million metric tons of grain and other foodstuffs have been shipped from Black Sea ports in Ukraine. Russian wheat exports have also multiplied threefold. A clear majority of wheat exports under the Black Sea Grain Initiative have been shipped to developing economies.

This includes some 380,000 metric tons transported by the World Food Programme to support ongoing humanitarian operations in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Somalia and Yemen,” Guterres said.

He acknowledged the efforts of the Food and Agriculture Organization to reduce world poverty by 15 percent.

“And the FAO Food Price Index declined for eight months in a row – by around 15 percent – keeping millions of people across the globe from falling into extreme poverty,” he said.

Speaking on what should be expected in the coming year, Guterres said despite the solutions  provided to the many problems that occurred in the course of the year, some of the problems still linger and much work is still needed to be done.

“>But much work remains to be done. Prices are still too high and access to fertilizers still too limited. We will continue to strive around the clock to support the full implementation of these initiatives — clarifying exemptions for food and fertilizer within the different sanction regimes, addressing indirect constraints, and pressing for greater efficiencies in the implementation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative to increase the volume of cargo being moved out of Ukraine’s ports.”

“And we will not relent in the pursuit of peace in Ukraine. Peace in line with international law and the United Nations Charter. Climate change is another area where good news can be hard to find. We are still moving in the wrong direction. The global emissions gap is growing. The 1.5-degree goal is gasping for breath. National climate plans are falling woefully short,” he said.

He concluded with an invitation to world leaders to attend another Climate Ambition Conference to be held in 2023, which he described as a “no-nonsense summit,” and finally announced that he is determined to make 2023 a year of peace and action.

Today I am announcing that I will convene a Climate Ambition Summit in September 2023. I call on every leader to step up—from governments, business, cities and regions, civil society, and finance. They must come with new, tangible, and credible climate action to accelerate the pace of change. There is a price of entry, and the price of entry is non-negotiable: credible, serious, and new climate action and nature-based solutions that will move the needle forward and respond to the urgency of the climate crisis must be presented. It will be a no-nonsense summit,” he said.

“I am more determined than ever to make 2023 a year for peace, a year for action,” Guterres said.