The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has pointed out peace and security as well as climate change as the two major challenges the African continent presently faces.
The UN chief made the remarks on Sunday while addressing the opening session of the 32nd African Union (AU) assembly summit, which is underway from Feb. 10 to 11 at the headquarters of the AU in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.
“On peace and security, strong winds of hope are blowing across the African continent,” Guterres said.
According to Guterres, the AU’s efforts to “silence the guns” by 2020 are gaining ground.
He also stressed that the UN’s surge in diplomacy for peace is producing results.
“The fruits of our strategic partnerships are making a difference. Ethiopia and Eritrea have signed a historic peace accord,” Guterres said, as he described some of the strategic cooperation areas among the UN and AU.
Noting UN’s growing support to peace operations in Africa, the UN chief also reiterated that the recently launched Action for Peacekeeping initiative would “enable our missions to be more effective, better equipped, safer and more robust.”
Guterres also stressed that durable peace and security cannot be achieved without sustainable development.
“All our gains in peace and security need to be consolidated by addressing the root causes of conflict,” Guterres said, adding “The UN is strongly committed to supporting the AU’s Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda,” Guterres said.
“The global community is falling behind in addressing two key challenges: meeting the Sustainable Development Goals and tackling climate change,” he added.
“The world is not moving far enough, or fast enough, to translate the promise of the SDGs into reality,” Guterres said, adding that “At present trends, we will only get half the job done.”
The UN Secretary-General, who dubbed climate change as the “mighty challenge before us,” said that the challenge is still moving much faster than our efforts to slow it.”
“Just this past week, the World Meteorological Organization confirmed that the last four years have been the hottest since records began, emphasizing the urgency of accelerated climate action,” he said.
Guterres also indicated that climate change’s existential threat is in particular higher in Africa, as it shoulders some of the heaviest burden despite its least responsibility for the crisis. According to Guterres, global emission has continued to rise and the essential target of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees “becomes ever more elusive.”
“We need more ambition – ambition on adaptation, ambition on mitigation, ambition on finance and ambition on innovation,” he stressed.
The UN chief also acknowledged some of the progresses in Africa and the rest of the world with regard to climate change, peace and security as well as sustainable development.
“Great challenges remain, but winds of hope are blowing throughout our shared agenda,” Guterres said.
“Africa is on the move and there are real reasons for optimism. The United Nations will continue to work together with you for a peaceful and prosperous future for all Africans,” he added.