“The world is facing an unfolding pandemic that has exposed multiple weaknesses in our societies. Meanwhile, climate change, which affects your nations acutely, is gathering pace. Both crises point to the need for a new, effective multilateralism to provide global governance on issues that concern us all,” said Guterres.
He reminded delegates that the pandemic is not just a health crisis and that it has an impact on other areas. Contrary to the media-created image that COVID-19 has been good for the climate, UN Secretary General António Guterres warned that the pandemic has put a number of important climate measures on hold. He pointed out that the world is currently completely off track when it comes to achieving the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050.
Guterres believes that the pandemic has not made things any easier, and that the way in which we rebuild our economies will have a huge impact.
We will count on the Nordic countries. The nations you represent have historically been among the strongest advocates of ambitious climate action. The world needs your leadership now more than ever.
Crisis gives rise to new opportunities
A positive of the pandemic is that this year’s digital version of the Nordic Council Session week has made it possible for Guterres to take part. It is unlikely he would have had the time to travel to Iceland where the Session was due to take place. An hour on Zoom is easier to find the time for. Guterres used this time well, delivering a stark message.
“It is essential that we rebuild our economies after the pandemic through effective climate action that will create millions of better jobs, promote cleaner and more efficient technologies, and bring better health worldwide,” said Guterres.
The UN is promoting six climate-positive actions that countries and other stakeholders can take to effect a sustainable economic recovery from COVID-19, including:
- Investing in sustainable jobs and businesses
- Ensuring no more bailouts to polluting industries and ending subsidies for fossil fuels, especially coal
- Considering climate risks in all financial decisions and policy-making
- Working together for a common cause
Guterres stressed that all countries must commit to more ambitious national contributions in relation to the goals of the Paris Agreement. The UN Secretary General believes the Nordic Region plays a key role.
“We will count on the Nordic countries. The nations you represent have historically been among the strongest advocates of ambitious climate action. The world needs your leadership now more than ever,” said Guterres
The UN will always have strong supporters and friends in the Nordic countries when it comes to political as well as economic matters. We stand ready to safeguard a better future.
The Nordic Region is the UN’s best friend
Guterres received the answers he wanted from the Nordic prime ministers. Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said in her speech that the Nordic Region will use the pandemic as a wake-up call to build a better, greener, and more just world.
“The UN will always have strong supporters and friends in the Nordic countries when it comes to political as well as economic matters. We stand ready to safeguard a better future,” said Frederiksen.
Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin pointed out that Finland has already set its sights on a post-pandemic world.
Finland is emphasising a green, sustainable, and inclusive recovery. A green recovery can present itself as a unique opportunity to tackle the root causes of pandemics and also to boost progress towards carbon neutrality,” said Marin.
Guterres also received support from among parliamentarians, as well as questions as to how the Nordic Region can play a greater role in the work of the UN. Danish MP Annette Lind from the Social Democrat group highlighted that Denmark has already secured a COVID-19 vaccine dose for all its inhabitants once a vaccine is ready.
Lind wanted to know what we can do to ensure that a vaccine is made available to those living in poorer parts of the world.
Guterres did not hesitate to respond, stating that an instrument is already in place with a number of participants, including nine vaccine manufacturers. The more critical matter is funding, however. USD 4 billion has already been ploughed into the scheme to start with. However, it is estimated that funding of an additional USD 14 billion is needed.
Guterres pointed out that we have to find this money from among member countries and international financial institutions. The World Bank has provided a loan of USD 12 billion to enable developing countries to buy vaccines, but this is just a loan. One contribution could therefore be to secure financing so that developing countries also have access to the vaccine.
Guterres concluded by saying that the Nordic Region is a role model for the rest of the world when it comes to multilateralism, climate action, and not least its efforts in the fight against COVID-19.