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SG/SM/20956
7 October 2021

Warning Humankind Facing ‘Last Chance’ to Turn Tide, Secretary-General Urges Decisive Action for Building Green, Sustainable World, at European Union Investment Summit

Following is the text of UN Secretary‑General António Guterres’ video message for the European Union Sustainable Investment Summit, held virtually today:

President von der Leyen.  Distinguished guests and speakers.  Ladies and gentlemen.

Let me get straight to the point.  Our world is in trouble.  Societies and economies are still battling the impacts of COVID‑19.  Extreme poverty and chronic hunger are increasing.  The disastrous impacts of climate change are more visible by the day.

COP26 [twenty-sixth Session of the Conference of the Parties on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] is around the corner and the stakes could not be higher.  Without decisive action, we are gambling away our last chance to — literally — turn the tide.  We need to end the war on our planet and ensure a green and resilient recovery.

This means committing to net‑zero emissions by mid-century.  More ambitious 2030 climate and biodiversity plans — with concrete action now.  No new coal plants.  And implementing the $100 billion promise to support developing countries as they shift from fossil fuel‑dependent economies to ones based in renewable sources.

We need bold and ambitious commitments by all countries — developed and developing alike.  And we need finance.  Your Strategy for Financing the Transition to a Sustainable Economy is a blueprint for integrating sustainability into investment decisions and financial products.  But let’s keep going.

Let’s scale‑up public and private investment to help developing countries and sectors achieve net zero.  Let’s shift financing and subsidies for fossil fuels to renewable energy instead.  Let’s mandate financial and technical support for the just transition to a green economy.  Let’s invest at least 50 per cent of climate finance to help people and communities adapt and build resilience.  Let’s shift the tax burden away from people’s incomes and towards carbon and pollution instead.  And let’s invest that back into health care.  Education.  Universal social protections.  And green jobs.

We have a long way to go.  But with your support, I know we can get there.  Let’s unleash the power of investment.  Let’s build the sustainable, green and equitable world we need.

Thank you. I wish you a successful summit.

For information media. Not an official record.