NEW YORK, NY – With the planet and its people facing serious security, developmental and environmental challenges, G-20 countries possess not only the political power to set us on a better course, but a political responsibility to do so, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in Brisbane, Australia.
Speaking to reporters at a press conference on the margins of the G-20 Summit, Mr. Ban highlighted the need for global action in three critical areas namely promoting inclusive growth and decent jobs, meeting the climate challenge and providing financing for sustainable development.
“The determination of the G20 to raise growth by more than 2 per cent in the next five years is a step in the right direction. But the quality of growth is just as important as its quantity,” the UN Chief said.
We must pursue an agenda that advances sustainability, addresses inequalities and generates decent jobs, especially for young people, he added.
On climate change, he commended the recent announcement by the United States and China of their post-2020 climate action, which comes on the heels of Europe’s decision on emission reduction targets.
As the transition towards a low-carbon, climate-resilient future accelerates, other leaders and major economies, especially among the G20, should come forward with contributions that will sustain momentum.
The world also looks to the G20 to lead on climate finance, Mr. Ban told reporters as he urged G20 countries to make ambitious pledges towards the capitalization of the Green Climate Fund at next week’s pledging conference in Berlin.
“We must act quickly and decisively if we want to avoid increasingly destructive outcomes – but we also have the means to limit climate change and build a better future,” the UN Chief emphasized.
Growth and sustainable development agendas depend on financing – public, private, domestic and international. Hence, the G20 must continue efforts to reform the global financial system, strengthen tax systems, fight corruption and reaffirm their commitment to meeting the target of 0.7 per cent of gross national income for official development assistance.
Turning to the Ebola epidemic, Mr. Ban stressed the need to intensify the international response in West Africa and also thanked “front-line” health-workers and countries that are making life-saving contributions. He commended Australia for being one of the first to contribute to the United Nations trust fund set up to combat Ebola in West Africa.
“The rate of new cases is showing signs of slowing in some of the hardest-hit parts of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. But as rates decline in one area, they are rising in others. Transmission continues to outpace the response,” Mr. Ban warned.
He urged the G-20 to step up efforts to meet the 70/70 goal: isolating and treating 70 per cent of all Ebola cases and providing safe and dignified burials to 70 per cent of those who have died.
Equally important is addressing the secondary impacts on healthcare, education and soaring food prices caused by a disruption in farming that could provoke a major food crisis.
On the war in Syria, he said the protracted conflict continues to destabilize the region and cause immense humanitarian suffering. In Syria, Iraq and northern Nigeria, extremist groups control territory larger than that of many countries.
Unilateral steps are making a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict seem more elusive than ever. And in the heart of Europe, the Ukraine conflict has raised fear of Cold War-style divisions that can impede collective efforts to solve problems.
“Across these arcs of crisis, we need more determined steps to end grave abuses of human rights, resolve the conflicts and address the underlying sources of instability,” Mr. Ban said.