21 September 2020

We Must Turn COVID-19 Tragedy into Opportunity, Secretary-General Says, in Message Accepting Concordia Leadership Award

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video-message acceptance of the Concordia Leadership Award during the 2020 Concordia Annual Summit:

I send my warmest greetings to this year’s Concordia Summit.  The COVID-19 pandemic has turned your annual gathering into a virtual event — but although we may not be together in person, we are united in our commitment to address this crisis and the other pressing global challenges we face.

I thank Ambassador Paula Dobriansky for her warm introduction and for her long-standing support as a wonderful friend to me and to the United Nations.  I am especially grateful to all of you for the honour of receiving the Concordia Leadership Award.  I know it is not just me you are recognizing but also the Organization I am proud to lead.  Thank you for this tribute, on behalf of the peacekeepers, humanitarian personnel and other staff who strive, around the clock, to help countries across the world to combat the pandemic, deliver peace and address the existential threat of climate change.

Against this backdrop, the United Nations this year commemorates its seventy-fifth anniversary and our founders’ visionary response to the challenges of 1945.  As we mark this milestone, we, too, must chart our way out of difficult circumstances onto a better path.

To overcome the pandemic, the United Nations continues to advocate for a massive rescue package for the world’s most vulnerable people and countries, a people’s vaccine affordable and available to all, and a global ceasefire so that the world can focus on its common enemy — the virus.

We must learn from this tragedy, not to return to the world of fragility and inequality that prevailed before the virus struck, but to turn tragedy into opportunity and make a determined effort to build a better, fairer, more sustainable future.  Nowhere will that be more important than in responding to the climate crisis.

International cooperation will be critical.  In that spirit, I welcome the efforts of Concordia to bring businesses, non-profits, foundations, local authorities and others together to forge sustainable, inclusive solutions and innovation.

Thank you for your engagement and support as we combine forces for the crucial weeks and months ahead.  Please accept my best wishes for a successful gathering.  Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.