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NEW YORK, January 16, Xinhua -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Wednesday that the United Nations needs to speed up efforts in fighting climate change, achieving toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and harnessing the benefits of new technologies.
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 United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres briefs the General Assembly on the 2019 outlook, at the UN headquarters in New York, Jan. 16, 2019. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Wednesday that the United Nations needs to speed up efforts in fighting climate change, achieving toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and harnessing the benefits of new technologies. (Xinhua/Li Muzi)

Briefing the UN General Assembly on the 2019 outlook, the secretary-general said that "standing still means falling further behind," and that on these three "key 21st-century challenges," the United Nations should dramatically accelerate efforts.

On climate change, Guterres reaffirmed his stance that the world needs to transform its economies to keep temperature rise within 1.5 degrees Celsius compared with the pre-industrial level.

To that end, the UN chief said he will convene a climate summit on Sept. 23, 2019 to mobilize action by political leaders, the business community and civil society, appealing to world leaders to bring solutions and commitments "that will at last match the scale of the challenge."

Turning to the SDGs set in the UN 2030 Agenda, Guterres warned that "despite considerable efforts from governments and many others, the transformative changes ... are not yet being made."

He called for sharper focus on "what works in reducing poverty and inequality, and in delivering strong and inclusive economies," and urged increased financing for related solutions.

On this front, he said, the UN General Assembly will have its first head of state and government meeting of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development since the 2030 Agenda was adopted in 2015, which will follow the climate summit.

Guterres further announced that the two summits will be complemented by meetings on three other key challenges: Financing for Development, Universal Health Coverage and the risks faced by Small Island Developing States.

With regard to new technologies, the secretary-general said the world needs to step up efforts to enhance its capacity to reckon with their profound impacts.

"The Fourth Industrial Revolution continues to open new possibilities for health care, education, humanitarian assistance and much else," he said, while cautioning against disruption of labor markets, the weaponization of artificial intelligence and the activities on the dark web.

This year, the UN High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation, which was set up in July, will report on proposals for reducing digital inequality, building digital capacity and ensuring that new technologies work as "a force for good," according to Guterres.

"I am convinced that we can move forward with confidence for the green economy and the benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution," he said.

In Wednesday's briefing, Guterres also highlighted the world's major gains in 2018, which included the ceasefire in Hodeidah of Yemen, the peace deal in South Sudan, the peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea, progress in resolving Greece and Macedonia' name dispute and two global compacts respectively on migration and refugees.

 

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