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Need Higher Partnerships, Financing & Willingness to Tackle Tough Global Challenges: India at UN

India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin on Wednesday also highlighted the discrepancy between climate ambition and climate finance.

PTI

Updated:January 23, 2020, 8:43 PM IST
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Need Higher Partnerships, Financing & Willingness to Tackle Tough Global Challenges: India at UN
File photo of Syed Akbaruddin. (Twitter)

United Nations: India has underscored the need for higher partnerships, willingness and financing by the global community to tackle the tough challenges facing the world.

India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin on Wednesday also highlighted the discrepancy between climate ambition and climate finance.

"The challenges are such that we need higher partnerships, we need higher financing and we need higher willingness to look at the hard decisions that we need to take to fulfill the tough challenges that we face," he said.

Akbaruddin made the remarks following a speech by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres at the informal briefing of the General Assembly, in which he outlined the road map for change in 2020.

The Indian envoy was the first ambassador to speak and put forth questions to the Secretary General during an interactive session following Guterres' remarks.

In a wide-ranging speech to the General Assembly, Guterres said the world is facing four looming threats to human progress -- surging geopolitical tensions, climate crisis, global mistrust and the downsides of technology.

"These four horsemen...can jeopardise every aspect of our shared future...We must address these four 21st-century challenges with four 21st-century solutions," the UN chief said.

Akbaruddin said Guterres has stated the "four horsemen" with eloquence and complimented him on the several things he has done and plans to do to tackle global challenges.

Talking of a "fifth horseman", Akbaruddin said, "Even while we talk of the future, we talk in a situation where austerity is present in the UN premises today."

He said while there is talk of Action for Peacekeeping, "we talk it in the circumstances where peacekeeping troops are not yet being paid".

Akbaruddin noted that though efforts made by Guterres have helped in trying to resolve the situation, long-term solutions are required to ensure that peacekeeping troops are paid on time.

Highlighting the discrepancy between climate ambition and climate finance, he said, while climate ambition needs to be high, climate financing needs to be at par as well.

"We cannot have high ambition without meeting the requirements of a high partnership. While we are talking of the threats of climate change, we haven't even agreed to the definition of climate financing, we haven't even agreed to continue to have climate financing as an item on the agenda of the UNFCCC starting from 2020 onwards," Akbaruddin said referring to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Drawing from the Hollywood movie, 'Jerry Maguire', he posed a question to Guterres, "Mr Secretary General, show me the money. All of us need to look at ways that we will realise this ambition. My question to you is are we looking for specific ways and specific means of implementing the numerous challenges we have?"

Responding to Akbaruddin's question and comment, Guterres said he will soon be writing to the UN Member States on the financial situation and noted that the UN ended 2019 with with arrears up to 711 million dollars, which is the highest level ever.

He noted that several measures were implemented to reduce expenditure at the world body and ended the year with a cash deficit of 320 million dollars due to those austerity measures, without which "the situation would be a complete disaster".

Guterres noted that because of the flexibility in the use of funds within the peacekeeping operations, it was possible to pay USD 692 million in August-September last and USD 770 million in December that resulted in the lowest deficit in recent times.

However, there is still a deficit of USD 174.8 million and "if we don't address some of the other challenges, I'm afraid that we will get back to the trend of the past and we will have increased debt to peacekeeping missions which is the most morally and politically unacceptable way to finance the UN."

On climate finance, Guterres stressed that more ambition is needed in climate mitigation, adaptation and finance.

"The three things go together. There is no way we can have ambition in mitigation and adaptation if there is no ambition in finance. Indeed, we are lagging behind in that regard," he said.

Guterres voiced concern that it is not yet entirely clear how the 100 billion dollars per year from 2020 onwards will be raised between the public and private sector to support developing countries on climate action.

The Sustainable Development Goal 13 aims to mobilize USD 100 billion annually by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries to both adapt to climate change and invest in low-carbon development.

Guterres made a "very strong appeal" for a much stronger engagement of countries in order to make sure that the commitment by the developed countries are met and at the same time a number of measures are adopted to facilitate investment of the private sector in the developing countries.

He underscored that the International Solar Alliance that India launched together with France and other countries "is a good example of the kind of mechanism that can be put into place that attracts private investment".

Guterres said more and more asset managers feel that their portfolios need to become greener, which means that they need to disinvest in fossil fuels and invest more and more in the green economy and renewables.

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