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UN chief calls on leaders for action and unity to solve global problems

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Leaders from a world fractured by war, climate change and persistent inequality gathered under one roof Tuesday to hear the U.N. chief call on them to act together to face the enormous challenges of humanity – and start providing their own assessments on the most important challenges. overall stages.

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“Our world is becoming unbalanced. Geopolitical tensions are increasing. Global challenges are multiplying. And we seem unable to come together to respond,” Antonio Guterres told leaders of the world’s nations. He said the UN – and the way countries cooperate – must evolve to keep up with the times.

“The world has changed. This is not the case with our institutions,” Guterres said before the opening of the general debate of the United Nations General Assembly. “We cannot effectively solve the problems as they present themselves if institutions do not reflect the world as it is. Instead of solving problems, they risk becoming part of the problem. »

He said the world needs action now – not just more words – to address the worsening climate emergency, escalating conflict, “dramatic technological disruption” and a crisis global cost of living which increases hunger and poverty.

This year’s week-long session, the first full meeting of world leaders since the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted travel, will have 145 leaders speaking. This is a significant number that reflects the multitude of crises and conflicts.

But for the first time in years, US President Joe Biden, who will speak shortly after the UN chief, will be the only leader of the five powerful nations with veto power in the UN Security Council to address the assembly made up of 193 members.

China’s Xi Jinping, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, France’s Emmanuel Macron and Britain’s Rishi Sunak will not attend the UN this year. That is expected to shine a spotlight on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who will make his first appearance at the assembly podium later Tuesday, and on Biden, who will be particularly scrutinized for his views on China, Russia and Ukraine.

The absence of four-power leaders from the Security Council has sparked discontent among developing countries who want the world’s major players to listen to their demands – particularly for money to begin narrowing the growing gap between the haves and the have-nots. deprived of the world.

The G77, the UN’s main group of developing countries which now numbers 134 members including China, has pushed for this year’s global gathering to focus on the 17 UN goals adopted by world leaders. world in 2015. These are well behind halfway to their 2030 target deadline.

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At a two-day summit aimed at launching actions to achieve these goals, Guterres highlighted the grim findings of a UN report released in July. He said 15% of the approximately 140 specific targets aimed at achieving the 17 goals are on track. Many of them are going in the wrong direction, and no goals are expected to be achieved in the next seven years.

The far-reaching goals include ending extreme poverty and hunger, ensuring every child has a quality secondary education, achieving gender equality and making significant progress in the fight against climate change – the all by 2030.

At current rates, the report says, 575 million people will still live in extreme poverty and 84 million children will not even go to primary school in 2030 – and it will take 286 years to achieve gender equality. and women.

Guterres told leaders Monday at the summit’s opening that he called for saving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, that they promised in 2015 to build “a world of health, progress and prosperity.” ‘opportunities’ for all – and to pay for it.

Shortly after his speech, leaders of the UN’s 193 member countries adopted by consensus a 10-page political declaration recognizing that the goals are “at risk.” But it reaffirms more than a dozen times, in different ways, leaders’ commitment to achieving the SDGs, reiterating their individual importance.

The statement lacked details, but Guterres said he was “deeply encouraged” by his commitment to improving developing countries’ access to the “fuel needed to advance the SDGs: finance.” He emphasized his support for an SDG stimulus of at least $500 billion per year, aimed at offsetting the difficult market conditions facing developing countries.

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At the summit, leaders were then expected to commit to achieving the SDGs.

For example, Nepalese Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who chairs the United Nations’ group of least developed countries, said they need a “massive increase in affordable financing,” including through SDG recovery measures. He said foreign investment in least developed countries fell by about 30% in 2022 compared to 2021, and he urged developed countries to be more generous in their aid to the world’s poorest countries.

Hundreds of side events are also organized during the high-level week.

The European Union’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, told reporters after a closed-door meeting aimed at trying to revive the decades-old peace process between Israel and the Palestinians that there was “a strong commitment in favor of the two-state solution. He said there were 60 participants in the meeting organized by the EU, the Arab League and several other countries, and called it a “good starting point.”

There has been “an injection of new political will,” Borrell said.

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