Secretary-General António Guterres began his press stakeout at UN Headquarters in New York, with the announcement that the deal to free-up vital foodstuffs from Ukraine had hit “a new milestone” with 10 million metric tonnes now shipped through the Black Sea humanitarian corridor, in just three months.
‘Beacon of hope still shining’
“Despite all the obstacles we have seen, the beacon of hope in the Black Sea is still shining and the initiative is working”, he said.
With Russia back in the fold and ships on the move again from three Ukrainian ports – with most of their cargo for human consumption, bound for developing world countries in need – Mr. Guterres said he had two priorities going forward.
Firstly, “renewal and full implementation” of the deal, followed by the removal of the remaining obstacles to the export of food and much-needed fertilizer, from Russia.
He said he and the UN were fully committed to both objectives, stressing the need to urgently address the “global fertilizer market crunch”.
“We cannot allow global fertilizer accessibility problems, to morph into a global food shortage.”
Both the grain deal and the signing of a binding agreement by Ethiopian authorities and Tigrayan rebels to end fighting and allow aid back in to war-ravaged Tigray, showed not only multilateralism at work, but “the value of discrete – but determined – diplomacy”, he added.
Turning his attention to the critical UN climate conference beginning in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, this weekend, he said it had to be the moment to “rebuild trust and re-establish the ambition needed to avoid driving our planet over the climate cliff.”
Emissions are on course to rise by as much as 2.8C by the end of this century – far from the necessary and agreed 1.5 degrees, or lower.
“And that means our planet is on course for reaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible, and forever bake in, catastrophic temperature rise.”
He called for a “historic pact” between the developing and developed world where the onus is on the richer economies to deliver on their promises to reach the 1.5 degree goal, laid out in the Paris Agreement.
“COP27 must be the place to close the ambition gap, the credibility gap, and the solidarity gap”, said the UN chief.
Those in denial of ‘loss and damage’ due to climate change in the developing world, need only look at the disastrous floods in Pakistan, he added: “Getting concrete results on loss and damage is the litmus test of the commitment of governments to help close all these gaps”, he told journalists.