United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres Monday told world leaders that the planet was literally on fire. He made those remarks ahead of the 77th General Assembly (UNGA) opening Tuesday in New York, which traditionally happens with a speech from Brazil's President.
Jair Bolsonaro flew straight from London after attending Queen Elizabeth's funeral.
During a meeting Monday to promote the 2030 agenda, Guterres said the world’s many pressing perils make it “tempting to put our long-term development priorities to one side.”
The Portuguese-born diplomat also warned that the world is in “great peril” and urged global leaders to tackle conflicts and climate catastrophes that are increasing poverty and inequality.
Guterres also pointed out that things have taken a turn for the worse after Russia's military deployment in Ukraine. He also insisted on saving the planet, “which is literally on fire,” amid a persisting COVID-19 pandemic, while “a lack of access to finance for developing countries to recover has led to a crisis not seen in a generation.”
The Socialist leader is to deliver his “state of the world” speech Tuesday. “There will be no sugar-coating in his remarks, but he will outline reasons for hope,” a UN source told reporters Monday.
Among Guterres' main concerns is the loss of grain and fertilizer exports from Ukraine and Russia, which has triggered a global food crisis. The UN chief insisted that some things cannot wait: education, dignified jobs, full equality for women and girls, comprehensive healthcare, and action to tackle the climate crisis.
By tradition, Brazil has spoken first for over seven decades because, at the early General Assembly sessions, it volunteered to start when no other country did. The US usually came right afterward. But President Joseph Biden's speech has been rescheduled for Wednesday as the oldest ever US head of state is returning from London. Over 150 world leaders are on the speakers' list.