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UN Chief Has a Warning

Pandemic, damage to planet, inequality could put world in constant crisis, Antonio Guterres says
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 11, 2021 4:35 PM CDT
UN Chief Warns 'Pivotal Moment' Has Arrived
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks at an EU summit in Brussels in June.   (John Thys, Pool Photo via AP, File)

(Newser) – UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has issued a dire warning that the world is moving in the wrong direction and faces "a pivotal moment" where continuing business as usual could lead to a breakdown of global order and a future of perpetual crisis. Changing course could signal a breakthrough to a greener and safer future, he said. The UN chief said the world's nations and people must reverse today's dangerous trends and choose "the breakthrough scenario," the AP reports. The world is under "enormous stress" on almost every front, he said, and the pandemic was a wake-up call demonstrating the failure of nations to come together and take joint decisions to help all people in the face of a global life-threatening emergency.

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Guterres said this paralysis extends far beyond COVID-19 to the failures to tackle the climate crisis and "our suicidal war on nature and the collapse of biodiversity," the inequality undermining the cohesion of societies, and technology's advances "without guardrails to protect us from its unforeseen consequences." In other signs of a more chaotic and insecure world, he pointed to rising poverty, hunger, and gender inequality after decades of decline, the extreme risk to human life and the planet from nuclear war and a climate breakdown, and the inequality, discrimination, and injustice bringing people into the streets to protest "while conspiracy theories and lies fuel deep divisions within societies."

In a horizon-scanning report presented to the General Assembly and at a press conference Friday, Guterres said his vision for the "breakthrough scenario" to a greener and safer world is driven by "the principle of working together, recognizing that we are bound to each other and that no community or country, however powerful, can solve its challenges alone." The report—"Our Common Agenda"—is a response to last year's declaration by world leaders on the 75th anniversary of the United Nations and the request from the assembly’s 193 member nations for the UN chief to make recommendations to address the challenges for global governance. In today's world, Guterres said, "Global decision-making is fixed on immediate gain, ignoring the long-term consequences of decisions—or indecision."

(Read more United Nations stories.)

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