It’s time for action
Last year, the UN conducted a worldwide consultation exercise. More than one million people from 193 countries took part in it. The answers showed some important facts. First, the expectations, hopes and dreams of women and men, girls and boys across the globe are strikingly similar. People want better access to basic health care, sanitation and education. Second, people want more solidarity with those hardest hit by the pandemic and with those living in poverty. Third, the number one concern over the longer term is climate change and the accelerating loss of biodiversity in our Planet. Fourth, more than 90 per cent of those who participated in the consultations believe global cooperation is vital to deal with today’s challenges. As a matter of fact, the majority of people believe the pandemic has made international cooperation even more urgent. It was especially encouraging that young people all over the world so clearly wanted more international cooperation, not less. This is a call to action we must heed.
Last week Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, presented his Our Common Agenda report. This report, which follows on the UN75 Political Declaration adopted by all Heads of State and Governments of the UN one year ago, sets out a bold plan for how we must tackle the challenges of today and of tomorrow. We stand before the threat of breakdown – or the opportunity of breakthrough.
We, the undersigned, commit to step up our support to the efforts of the Secretary-General and the United Nations to translate this ambitious agenda into reality, day by day, action by action.
We live in an inter-connected and interdependent world. The Covid-19 pandemic, which we are still battling at the global level, has shown this with full force. In the last few months, we have seen record numbers of people affected by heat waves, devastating flooding and some of the largest forest fires in recent history, confirming once again the unparalleled threat of our changing climate.
The UN is the heart of the system of international organizations. The fact that the world came together 76 years ago to create an organization with the purpose to “achieve international cooperation in solving international problems” is in itself extraordinary. But what is even more striking is that this organization, despite its’ challenges and shortcomings, has endured and shown the path towards a better, more peaceful and sustainable world through cooperation, not contest.
Our system of international organizations was however built primarily to resolve inter-state challenges, not those challenges that transcend borders, such as financial crises, pandemics, terrorism and crime networks, the threats to our oceans or climate change. We must therefore modernize multilateral organizations, making them fit for purpose and better equipped to deal with the global and cross-generational challenges we are faced with today.
In 2020, having observed the stark differences between our world at the founding of the United Nations and the world we find ourselves in today, we drew on our collective wisdom and political will to commit to reviving the discussion on the reform of the Security Council, and to continue the work of the revitalization of the General Assembly and strengthening of the Economic and Social Council.
In line with the Joint Statement we signed last Nov. 10th in Madrid, we would like to highlight three areas that we should prioritise in our common goal to reinforce multilateralism and the UN.
First, we need a reinvigorated commitment to international cooperation. We need stronger multilateral organizations that have the means and the mandate to make a difference on the ground. Cooperation between actors, such as the UN, regional organizations and international financial organizations must improve at both policy and operational level. Future generations must be involved and at the centre of our efforts if we are to successfully address the challenges of the future. A more open and inclusive multilateral system is needed where youth, civil society, private sector, academia and others have a space at the table. We are already putting this into practice. On September 23rd, on the margins of the 76 General Assembly, we will be organising the virtual event “Delivering the UN Common Agenda: Action to Achieve Equality and Inclusion” in collaboration with the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies initiative, in which we will make sure all voices are heard.
Second, the Secretary General has outlined an agenda of bold steps that must be taken to revive and strengthen our capacity to better tackle poverty and inequality, ensure inclusion, equality participation and justice, address the climate crisis and the accelerating loss of biodiversity, and to make sure that we are better equipped to deal with future threats of pandemics. We have learned from the Covid-19 pandemic that we need to strengthen our collective ability to anticipate, prevent and manage complex risks such as another pandemic, a new war, massive cyberattacks, environmental disasters or other unforeseen events. We therefore welcome the suggestions for how to strengthen global foresight and risk management capacity, including the proposed Emergency Platform. .
Third, We, commit to stand together with the Secretary General in these efforts and welcome the proposal for a Summit of the future in 2023. Let us use the opportunity of a Summit to step up our efforts to strengthen international cooperation and get ready to tackle together the big challenges of our time.
Today there is hardly any issue that does not reverberate across borders, across generations, and that does not require the world to come together to act. Therefore, we must seize this moment to create a more agile, effective, and accountable organization that can better deliver for all the citizens of this globe.
We want to be in the forefront of this endeavour. We are deeply dedicated to a reinvigorated rules-based multilateralism, with a stronger and a more inclusive UN at its core. This is the call of our times.
Carlos Alvarado Quesada, President of Costa Rica
Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand
Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa
Pedro Sánchez, Prime Minister of Spain
Stefan Löfven, Prime Minister of Sweden