UN chief calls for stronger cooperation in response to global ‘stress test’

By FRONTIER

YANGON — The United Nations secretary-general says the world is undergoing a “stress test” as a result of climate change, geopolitical divisions and inequality, and urged stronger international cooperation.

In his New Year’s message, Mr Antonio Guterres said that geo-political divisions were deepening, making conflicts more difficult to resolve.

“[R]ecord numbers of people are moving in search of safety and protection,” he said.

“Inequality is growing. And people are questioning a world in which a handful of people hold the same wealth as half of humanity.

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“Intolerance is on the rise … Trust is on the decline.”

But he said there were also reasons for optimism, particularly regarding conflicts in Yemen, South Sudan, and between Eritrea and Ethiopia. The UN recently oversaw a global agreement on migration and refugees and countries were mobilising behind the Sustainable Development Goals, he added.

The UN was also able to bring countries together to formulate a work programme for the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change, Guterres said, urging the world “to seize our last best chance … to stop uncontrolled and spiraling climate change”.

“When international cooperation works, the world wins … In 2019, the United Nations will continue to bring people together to build bridges and create space for solutions.

“[L]et’s resolve to confront threats, defend human dignity and build a better future — together.”

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