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.
“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.”