U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres 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 U.N. chief said the world’s nations and people must reverse today’s dangerous trends and choose “the breakthrough scenario.”
The world is under “enormous stress” on almost every front, he said, and the COVID-19 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.
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 “unchecked inequality” undermining the cohesion of societies, and technology’s advances “without guard rails 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.