Covid-19 and climate change will be the UN prime focus as world leaders are returning to the United Nations in New York this week with a focus on boosting efforts to fight these two non-traditional security threats which last year forced them to send video statements for the annual gathering.
As the coronavirus still rages amid an inequitable vaccine rollout, about a third of the 193 U.N. states are planning to again send videos, but presidents, prime ministers and foreign ministers for the remainder are due to travel to the United States.
The United States tried to dissuade leaders from coming to New York in a bid to stop the U.N. General Assembly from becoming a “super-spreader event,” although President Joe Biden will address the assembly in person, his first U.N. visit since taking office. A so-called U.N. honor system means that anyone entering the assembly hall effectively declares they are vaccinated, but they do not have to show proof.
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The world ravaged with Covid-19 and climate change; an existential threat
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had already highlighted the grim world plagued with Covid-19 and climate change that have led to national governments, states ad individuals to question about their existence as social and economic domains become challenging for them to survive.
The UN secretary told Reuters that the discussions around how many traveling diplomats might have been immunized illustrated “how dramatic the inequality is today in relation to vaccination.” He is pushing for a global plan to vaccinate 70% of the world by the first half of next year.
Out of 5.7 billion doses of coronavirus vaccines administered around the world, only 2% have been in Africa. Biden will host a virtual meeting from Washington with leaders and chief executives on Wednesday that aims to boost the distribution of vaccines globally.
Demonstrating U.S. COVID-19 concerns about the U.N. gathering, Biden will be in New York only for about 24 hours, meeting with Guterres on Monday and making his first U.N. address on Tuesday, directly after Bolsonaro.
His U.N. envoy, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said Biden would “speak to our top priorities: ending the COVID-19 pandemic; combating climate change … and defending human rights, democracy, and the international rules-based order.”
Due to the pandemic, U.N. delegations are restricted to much smaller numbers and most events on the sidelines will be virtual or a hybrid of virtual and in-person. Among other topics that ministers are expected to discuss during the week are Afghanistan and Iran.
But before the annual speeches begin, Guterres and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will start the week with a summit on Monday to try and save a U.N. summit – that kicks off in Glasgow, Scotland, on Oct. 31 – from failure.
As scientists warn that global warming is dangerously close to spiraling out of control, the U.N. COP26 conference aims to wring much more ambitious climate action and the money to go with it from participants around the globe.
UN Secretary-General Advocates for Action on COVID-19 and Climate Change https://t.co/3YudGQKOsG
— News From Non Aligned World (@NonAlignedWorld) September 11, 2021
Read more: On climate change and Covid-19, world is moving in wrong direction, UN chief
Mitigating Covid-19 and climate change threat is now or never
“It’s time to read the alarm bell,” Guterres told Reuters last week. “We are on the verge of the abyss.” With Covid-19 and climate change already threatening our existence and causing nations to drift apart due to vaccine inequality and unequal economic development, UN secretary has urged multiple times for an enhanced multilateral approach to world governance so that poorer nations can be brought forth in the line of development and keep the threat of Covid-19 and climate change at the bay.
Thus, this United Nations General Assembly session is vital to urge the countries to foster collaborated approach as the world stands on the brink of destruction, as the fifth horsemen, Covid-19 had spread havoc, to a point where there is no return. So, equitable spread of vaccines and staunch adherence on reducing emissions and building narrative on green energy production and sustainable development is imperative as this time it is now or never.
Read more: UK raises $1 billion in Covid-19 vaccine donations for “vulnerable countries”