Acknowledging “a long road ahead” on the United Nations ambitious agenda, Secretary-General António Guterres welcomed on Tuesday “the historic leadership of the state of Palestine” as the new Chair of the Group of 77’s (G77).
“Palestine and its citizens have first-hand experience of some of the most challenging and dramatic global issues we face” said Mr. Guterres in his remarks at the annual ceremony for handover of the rotating Chairmanship of the G77.
Egypt was the previous Chair of the bloc, a coalition of 134 developing countries, along with China.
The decision to elect Palestine as 2019 Chair of the G77 was taken in September 2018 by the foreign ministers of the Groups’ member States.
A month later, the UN General Assembly approved a resolution that enabled Palestine – a non-member Observer State at the world body – additional privileges and rights, such participating in international conferences held under its auspices, for the duration of its role as G77 Chair.
“You are well-placed to take up the chairmanship of this important group of countries,” Mr. Guterres said today.
As multilateralism continues to come under “intense pressure from many sides”, the UN chief underscored the importance of the G77 and China’s continued support.
“The Group of 77 and China has demonstrated strong leadership throughout 2018 and proved once again to be a central force in demonstrating that multilateralism is the only way to address our shared challenges,” said Mr. Guterres.
He credited the Group and the prior Egyptian presidency as having been “at the heart” of the progress made in challenges that ranged from climate change to rising inequality and fast changing and new technologies.
He singled out Egypt’s “highly effective” leadership and advocacy on finance for developing countries to meet their climate action commitments.
He called the group “instrumental” in achieving both: a comprehensive agreement that deals with migration in all its dimensions, the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration; and a Development System to eradicate poverty, implement programmes on a national level and to position development “at the centre of UN activities”.
“You help to keep the United Nations focused on the issues that count for the most vulnerable, and we owe you a debt of gratitude for your extremely constructive role”, the Secretary-General said.
With climate action at the forefront, Mr. Guterres laid out how critical a year 2019 will be for ending poverty, reducing inequalities, and transiting to more inclusive and sustainable economies.
“If we do not put policies and commitments in place to launch a decade of climate action by 2020, it will be too late to avoid catastrophic climate change with unforeseeable consequences” he argued. “Many of the Group of 77 countries would be among the first and worst to suffer.”
He urged the G77 to bring “solutions and commitments” to, among others, the Climate Summit in September and enumerated other upcoming events in need of the bloc’s support, including the General Assembly’s High-Level Political Forum; the high-level meeting to review progress made on the SAMOA pathway for small island developing States to help lay foundations for progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); and the Second High-level UN Conference on South-South Cooperation in Buenos Aires, Argentina, this coming March.