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Press Release


Dear members of the press,

It is wonderful to be back in Geneva.

I have just come from Jordan, where the United Nations co-hosted a conference on the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza.

From here I will go to the G7 Summit in Italy.

My message is very clear:

This is a critical time.

We face profound global challenges on multiple fronts.

And the G7 leaders have a particular responsibility.

First, on climate.

We’re reaping the whirlwind of climate inaction – with devastating floods, fires, droughts and heat.

The European Commission’s Copernicus Climate Change Service reported last week that May 2024 was the hottest May ever recorded.

That makes twelve straight months of the hottest months ever.

And the World Meteorological Organisation reported an eighty per cent chance that global annual average temperature will cross 1.5 degrees Celsius in at least one of the next five years.

In 2015, the chance of such a breach was near zero.

The window for action is rapidly closing.

Naturally, to have an over-shooting above 1.5 for a short period will not put into question the objective of 1.5 as a long-term objective for the end of the century. But the possibility of that over-shooting increases our responsibility to accelerate climate action to make it as limited and as short-term as possible.

Countries must deliver new national climate plans by next year. Those plans must align with the international community’s commitment to limit the rise in global temperature to 1.5 degrees.

That means a just global phase out of fossil fuels – which account for 85% of global emissions.

And the biggest countries have a responsibility to go furthest, fastest.

For the G7 that means committing to end coal power by 2030.

It means creating fossil-fuel free power systems, and cutting supply and demand for oil and gas by sixty percent – by 2035.

And it means supporting a just global transition to clean energy.

Globally, renewables are booming.

But many countries are being left in the dark.

Developing and emerging economies outside China have seen clean energy investments stuck at the same levels since 2015.

Africa was home to less than one percent of last year’s renewables installations, despite its wealth of resources and its vast potential.

We need advanced economies to rally behind the emerging and developing ones:

To show climate solidarity by providing the technological and financial support they need to cut emissions.

We need a clear commitment from the G7 on doubling finance for adaptation by next year, and closing the adaptation finance gap. And the G7 Adaptation

Accelerator Hub must be translated into concrete action by COP29 this year.

We also need more systemic change.

That is the second area for G7 action.

Our international financial architecture is outdated, dysfunctional and unfair.

The rich are over-represented; the poor are under served.

It needs reform so that it better represents developing countries and responds to their needs;

Reform that substantially increases the lending capacity of multilateral development banks;

And reforms that change their business model – so that they can provide far more finance for climate action and sustainable development and leverage massive amounts of private finance.

This is particularly important for African countries – one of the items of the G7 -some of whom spend more on average on servicing their debt than on health, education and infrastructure combined.

Let’s not forget it is an embarrassment that Africa still has no permanent representation on the United Nations Security Council.

And we must act urgently on artificial intelligence – another of the items for the G7 – a central question of governance today.

These technologies are racing ahead of regulation. They’re being rolled out with virtually no regard for the consequences. And they are inflaming tensions and divisions.

All of these is a recipe for profound instability.

AI must support human rights, sustainable development, and benefit all humanity.

The Independent Advisory Body that I appointed has identified clear priorities for AI governance.

These include: the creation of an International Scientific Panel on AI; a regular policy dialogue on AI Governance; common AI ethics and standards; strengthened data governance; and global financial commitments to support developing countries.

I also welcome the Advisory Body’s recommendation for a new small, dynamic, and flexible United Nations AI Office, which would report directly to me.

We’ll also take full profit of the capacity of the International Telecommunication Union as demonstrated in the recent AI for Good Summit.

The Summit of the Future in September is an opportunity to advance progress on all of these issues.

And the place of G7 countries in the global economy and institutions give them a unique responsibility and opportunity to push for change.

Finally, the G7 has a critical role to play in peace.

Peace in the Middle East – and I welcome President Biden’s recent peace initiative and urge all parties to seize the opportunity for a ceasefire and release of the hostages, and prepare the ground for a two-state solution.

We must also keep working for peace in Ukraine – a just peace, based on the United Nations Charter and international law.

Around the world, we must never let up in pursuit of solutions that affirm – and do not undermine – international law, including international humanitarian law:

Every time, everywhere.

These are the messages I will be carrying with me to Italy.

Thank you.

Questions and Answers

Question: In three days there will be the first global summit on Ukraine, at the Bürgenstock. Why did you choose yourself at this stage not to attend? Is it because Russia, one of the parties, is not present? Or is it because it is too early? And what are your expectations for the summit?

Secretary-General: No, no, the UN will be present. The UN is an observer. And so obviously we will be represented at the adequate level and totally committed to peace in Ukraine. But peace, as I said, peace based on the UN Charter, peace based on international law, peace based on the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Our position is very clear.

Question: Why you, yourself, are not going to the Bürgenstock summit? And in general, UN is very much present in Ukraine and in Gaza on the ground, on the humanitarian side. But at the same time, it seems that the UN is less involved, or seems to be less involved, in the political process to try to move forward both situations.

Secretary-General: As I said, the UN has an observer status, of the full status, and it will be represented at the adequate level. I have also, unfortunately, a personal commitment to which I cannot escape the same day. There is no political significance in the question that you are raising.

Question: And on the second part of [the] question, Sir? About the UN political involvement in Ukraine and Gaza?

Secretary-General: Well, as I mentioned, in Ukraine, the position of the UN is clear. At the present moment, there are no negotiations for peace in which [the UN] might be called to play any role. And our position is, and I reaffirmed it, we want peace in Ukraine, but we want peace based on the Charter, international law and the territorial integrity of the Ukraine.

In Gaza, we are deeply committed to humanitarian aid to the population in Gaza, where UNRWA is the backbone of that support. We have faced a number of difficulties and obstacles that are well known, but that in nothing diminishes our commitment. Of course, it's extremely difficult to support the population that is under fire. It's extremely difficult to support the population when there are so many restrictions to the entry of the necessary supplies for humanitarian aid.

Question: Mr. Secretary-General, this morning a commission of inquiry, UN commission of inquiry, published its findings regarding the fact that both Israel and Hamas committed war crimes. What is your reaction to this inquiry and what is the way forward from here?

Secretary-General: Well, first of all, the Commission of Inquiry is appointed by the Human Rights Council. It has a specific mandate. We never comment on the work of the mandated bodies created by the Human Rights Council. But we have witnessed, and we are perfectly aware of what was a unique level of destruction and the unique level of casualties in the Palestinian population during these months of war, that has no precedent in any other situation that I've lived [through] as Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Question: Welcome to, Geneva. My question is, what is your comment on the video speech of Chinese President Xi Jinping today? Thank you. What is your comment on the speech?

Secretary-General: Of course, I welcome the increased support of China to UNCTAD and also the reaffirmation by President XI Jinping [of] this commitment to multilateralism and to the work of the United Nations.

Question: Secretary-General, you've seen the results over the last European elections. We saw the rise of extreme right parties. Are you afraid that this might have an impact on multilateralism? Thank you.

Secretary-General: Well, as you know, I am Portuguese. And if you look at the results in my country, that doesn't apply. So, that is not necessarily something to take place everywhere. But obviously it is very important to strengthen European democracy. It's very important to strengthen the European commitment to multilateralism. It's very important to strengthen the European commitment to the rule of law, to the values of the Charter and to the principles of democratic societies. And I hope that that will prevail in Europe.

Question: Hello, Mr. Secretary-General. You listed some of the biggest challenges we face. Geopolitical divisions, conflicts, global debt, increasing levels of poverty. People say you have the most, or one of the most difficult jobs in the world. My question is: how can you imagine [manage] to deal with it in these critical times? How did you change since you took office in 2017?

Secretary-General: How do I manage these difficult times? Unfortunately, I cannot manage the difficult times. If I was able to manage the difficult times, we would not have the levels of inequality, of conflict, the climate change that we have. But what I can guarantee is our total commitments. The United Nations, as you know, has no effective power on the ground. The United Nations has not vast resources, but we have two things. We have a voice. And that voice will be clearly always expressed in line with the Charter, in line with international law, and in line with the principles of equality and justice in the world. And at the same time, we have a convening power, and we use the convening power whenever it is possible to try to create avenues for dialogue and for bringing together countries to address the dramatic challenges of all time, be it climate change, be it the governance of AI, to give two examples, two recent examples. Be it the situations of conflict in the areas of the world where we have the capacity to bring together the parties involved. All the best.