In Pakistan, Guterres urges world to step up climate action, praises support to Afghan refugees

May Yaacoub/UN News Secretary-General António Guterres delivers an address at a ‘Special Talk on Sustainable Development and Climate Change’, in Islamabad, Pakistan.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Sunday began a three-day visit to Pakistan, recognizing the country’s decades of “outstanding generosity and solidarity” as one of the world’s largest hosts of refugees, and highlighting its commitment to climate action.

“One of the main purposes of my visit is to spotlight the real Pakistan — with all its possibility and potential,” Mr. Guterres told reporters in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, alongside Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

The UN chief started out his day in Islamabad by meeting with refugees from Afghanistan, Yemen and Tajikistan. On Monday, he will speak at an international conference marking 40 years of hosting Afghan refugees in Pakistan and Iran, one of the world’s largest and longest-standing refugee populations.

Organized by the Pakistan Government and the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), the conference will also be addressed by the agency’s chief, Fillipo Grandi. The Secretary-General is also expected to meet with refugees and senior Pakistani officials during the visit.

Speaking to reporters after participating in a tree planting ceremony and delivering an address on climate change and sustainable development, Mr. Guterres said it was time for the world to take a step back and “look at Pakistan through a wider frame.”

Indeed, he said, the role Pakistan had played in sheltering and protecting Afghan refugees with limited international assistance, as well as its support to UN peacekeeping, and its steps to take concrete climate action with the ‘10 Billion Tree Tsunami’ campaign among other initiatives, were vital aspects of the South Asian country’s contribution to the region and the wider international community.

“The United Nations will continue to support Pakistan, and I call on other countries to support Pakistan and indeed show similar leadership in sharing this responsibility in this region and around the world,” said Mr. Guterres.

‘Our sustainable future is at stake’, but the battle can be won

In his ‘Special Talk on Sustainable Development and Climate Change’, Mr. Guterres noted that “like other developing countries, Pakistan has contributed little to the problem yet faces disproportionate vulnerability because of it.”

Commending Prime Minister Imran Khan for highlighting climate change in his address to the UN General Assembly last September, the Secretary-General also congratulated Pakistan on becoming co-chair of the Green Climate Fund, the UN-backed mechanism that helps developing countries reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance their ability to respond to climate change.

Noting Pakistan’s climate-focused initiatives like the ‘10 Billion Tree Tsunami’ campaign and the Clean and Green Pakistan Movement, he expressed his admiration for the decision to abolish plastic bags in Islamabad and elsewhere in the country.

“Plastic pollution is today one of the central concerns that we have, especially for the protection of our oceans”, said the UN chief, who held up a bag made of fabric, and urged everyone in attendance to use similar ones when the did their shopping.

The answer to the climate crisis is global solidarity backed by global action, said the Secretary-General, adding: “We are in a battle for our lives. But I firmly believe it is a battle that can be won.”

Indeed: “Technology is on our side. We have all the tools and knowledge we need to move from the grey economy to the green economy as it was seen in the slides. We have the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. We have the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

2030 Agenda: ‘Our common vision for the future we want’

As he went on to urge scaled-up action towards achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Mr. Guterres acknowledged that today’s challenges to sustainable development and human progress do not respect borders. “They are not confined to individual nations,” he explained.

He noted that Pakistan was among the first nations to integrate the SDGs, including through a national poverty alleviation programme – Ehsaas, or compassion, to expand social protection and safety nets and to support human development. A national youth development programme – Kamyab Jawan – seeks to create 10 million jobs for young people in five years.

But “we are off-track globally”, according to the UN chief, especially in the areas of hunger, inequality, biodiversity and climate action.

“Gender inequality – in business, in the home, in schools, in government, in the technology sector – is denying women and girls their rights and opportunities across the world,” he continued and added that vulnerable populations, such as migrants, young people and persons with disabilities, remain at risk of being left behind.

“Our collective efforts are not approaching the scale we need to deliver the SDGs by 2030,” he said, but stressed that the recently launched Decade of Action calls on governments, businesses, civil society and individuals everywhere to combine to create “unstoppable momentum” for the Goals.

Inspiring stories of Afghan refugees

Earlier on Sunday, the Secretary General and the head of the UN refugee agency, Mr. Grandi, met with three generations of Afghan refugees, listened to their compelling stories and expressed solidarity and compassion with their cause.

Though this marks Mr. Guterres’ first trip to Pakistan in his capacity as UN chief, he noted that he had visited the country many times during his tenure as UN High Commissioner of Refugees. “I gained an enormous admiration for the resilience, courage, determination, generosity and the solidarity of Afghan refugees,” said Mr. Guterres, adding that he had “drawn inspiration from their courage”.

UN News also had an opportunity to meet some of the refugees, who despite their hardships, had been able to help others and to give back to their communities.

Fazal Nabi, a 35-year-old, born in Pakistan, is passionate about helping refugees with disabilities. He drives a rickshaw to earn his living but spends most of his earnings buying equipment to help persons with disabilities.

Asked what he dream of doing if he took up another job, Mr. Nabi said that he would like to open a factory to manufacture assistive technologies, mobility aids or tools that could ease the everyday lives of persons with disabilities.

Jammu and Kashmir

A reporter at the joint press conference asked a question about tensions in Jammu and Kashmir and the Secretary General explained that he had offered, from the beginning, his good offices in relation to the situation, noting however that “good offices can only work when accepted by both sides”.

He maintained the UN position that the relevant resolutions of the Security Council on the issue should be implemented and for effective de-escalation, dialogue, and another very important condition: full respect for human rights and [fundamental] freedoms of those in Jammu and Kashmir.

When asked about ceasefire violations in the disputed region, the UN chief mentioned his visit to the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), noting that it “should have full freedom of movement; it has on the Pakistani side – we hope that this will also be achieved on the other side, and we will be strengthening its equipment capacity in order to better be able to implement its mandates”.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

On the euro but out of it?

Cancer research put at risk by General Data Protection Regulation? The possible dangers of a data privacy EU mania

‘Jerusalem is not for sale’ Palestinian President Abbas tells world leaders at UN Assembly

Human Rights: breaches in Cambodia, Uganda and Myanmar

Migration has set EU’s political clock ticking; the stagnating economy cannot help it and Turkey doesn’t cooperate

Boat made of recycled plastic and flip-flops inspires fight for cleaner seas along African coast

EU Commission expects consumer spending to unlock growth

What’s an ‘essential service’? Not knowing could block access to key digital services during COVID

‘No-deal’ Brexit: European Commission takes stock of preparations ahead of the June European Council (Article 50)

UN launches new fund to advance sustainable development in Aral Sea region

How ‘small’ is Europe in Big Data?

Commission reports on progress made by Albania and North Macedonia

MEPs back plans to promote water reuse for agricultural irrigation

LUX prize will be awarded jointly by the European Parliament and the European Film Academy

As the inventor of copy and paste dies, here are other computing innovations we take for granted

Eurozone banks are unable to support real economy’s dawning growth

As coronavirus spreads to poorer countries, here’s how the world can help

Integration of migrants: Commission launches a public consultation and call for an expert group on the views of migrants

The reverberation of permanent multiprofessional education in combating antimicrobial resistance: future generation prognostic change

Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of Raytheon by UTC, subject to conditions

UN political chief calls for dialogue to ease tensions in Venezuela; Security Council divided over path to end crisis

Trade negotiations with US can start under certain conditions

5 unexpected ways bicycles have made the world a better place

Why “de-learning” is equally important as reskilling in conversations about the future of work

Third Facebook-Cambridge Analytica hearing: data breach prevention and cures

Facts and prejudices about work

Building cybersecurity capacity through benchmarking: the Global Cybersecurity Index

Trade in counterfeit goods costs UK economy billions of euros

The importance and the need of mobile technology in the health care system and in saving lives.

European Accessibility Act: Parliament and Council negotiators strike a deal

Major humanitarian hub in north-east Nigeria burned in attack

How Africa’s entrepreneurs are changing the direction of globalization

European Youth Forum warns of a Peter Pan generation as a result of financial crisis and response to it

A new report outlines the shipping industry’s plans for decarbonization

‘Complacency is still strong’ over stopping genocide, says top UN adviser

Fair transition to digital and green economy: a new social agenda for Europe

Guterres in Davos: ‘Dysfunctional’ response to common problems, shows need for effective multilateralism

In this Tokyo cafe, the waiters are robots operated remotely by people with disabilities

These countries have the most doctors and nurses

Number of members in Parliament’s committees to change after Brexit

The third bailout agreement for Greece is a done deal amid European economies full of problems

European Parliament and Eurovision sign partnership for European Elections

The essence of care is cosmopolitan

Eurozone: In vicious cycle of disinflation and unemployment?

How fintech is making investment accessible

American negotiators can’t pay for their trip to Brussels, EU-US trade agreement freezes

The gender gap of medicine in 2018

EU Commission: Growth first then fiscal consolidation

‘Emulate his example’ urges UN chief as world celebrates Nelson Mandela: a ‘global advocate for dignity and equality’

Industrial price dive may lead to point of no return

Climate change update: will the UN member states regain momentum despite the little progress at COP23?

To realise the full potential of AI, we must regulate it differently

Employment and Social Developments in Europe: 2018 review confirms positive trends but highlights challenges, in particular linked to automation and digitalisation

Rare Disease Day: a new EU platform to support better diagnosis and treatment

State aid: Commission approves €3.2 billion public support by seven Member States for a pan-European research and innovation project in all segments of the battery value chain

Strengthening the rule of law through increased awareness, an annual monitoring cycle and more effective enforcement

Financial markets appear to have rallied. Here’s one way to mitigate further shocks due to COVID-19

European Commission to issue €62.9 billion worth bonds under existing programmes in 2021

Women’s rights and how medical students can act as aides of progressive change

The priority for workplaces in the new normal? Wellbeing

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s