World can learn much from Nepal: UN Secretary General

KATHMANDU: Visiting UN Secretary General António Guterres has said the world could learn much from Nepal in responding to multiple crises.

Addressing the joint meeting of the Federal Parliament on Tuesday, Guterres said, “As geopolitical tensions rise, global divisions are becoming deeper and more dangerous. Smaller countries fear becoming collateral damage in competition between great powers. And climate catastrophe is accelerating with a deadly force.”

According to him, other countries can learn much from Nepal in responding to such crises.

Similarly, he viewed Nepal is a promoter of peace, a champion of multilateralism, and a staunch supporter of sustainable development and climate action.

“Nestled between two great powers, you have forged your own path to safeguard your sovereignty and independence.  And your journey over the past twenty years has been wonderful to see,” he said, adding that a new republic with a new Constitution has the UN Charter at its heart.

He lauded Nepal, saying it was quick to embrace the Sustainable Development Goals, and is making progress on many of them. “Your country has successfully calmed the storms of conflict and moved from war to peace. A process the United Nations has been proud to support,” he shared.

Nepal’s dynamic story of progress continues today, the UN Secretary General viewed, adding that Nepal’s graduation from Least Developed Country status is imminent. The UN is committed to supporting a smooth transition, he vowed.

UNSG’s speech (full text)

Excellencies, distinguished ministers, parliamentarians, friends,

It is an honour to be here with you today. And a privilege to be back in beautiful Nepal.

I first came here in the 1970s. Every time I have visited, I have been astounded.

And this trip has been no exception.

What I have seen and experienced in the past few days will stay with me always:

The sunlight hitting the Himalayas; the warmth of the people; the richness of your cultural diversity.

And of course, the sanctity of Lumbini.

I thank the government of Nepal for your invitation, your hospitality and your welcome to me and my delegation.

Excellencies,

We meet today amidst a world in turmoil.

Decades of progress on poverty and hunger are being reversed.

Inflation is undermining household and national budgets.

Families and countries alike face financial crisis.

Women are under-represented and underpaid.

Violence and conflict abound.

While the conflict in the Middle East is thousands of miles away, Nepalis were among the many victims of Hamas’ brutal attacks in Israel.

I send my sincere condolences to the families of the 10 Nepali students who were killed, and express my best wishes for the safe return of Mr. Bipin Joshi, who is missing.

Distinguished ministers and parliamentarians,

As geopolitical tensions rise, global divisions are becoming deeper and more dangerous.

Smaller countries fear becoming collateral damage in competition between great powers.

And climate catastrophe is accelerating with a deadly force.

In responding to these crises, the world could learn much from Nepal.

This country is a promoter of peace, a champion of multilateralism, and a staunch supporter of sustainable development and climate action.

Nestled between two great powers, you have forged your own path to safeguard your sovereignty and independence.

And your journey over the past twenty years has been wonderful to see.

A new republic with a new Constitution has the UN Charter at its heart.

You were quick to embrace the Sustainable Development Goals, and are making progress on many of them.

And your country has successfully calmed the storms of conflict and moved from war to peace.

A process the United Nations has been proud to support.

Excellencies, distinguished parliamentarians,

Nepal does not stand still.

Your dynamic story of progress continues today.

Your graduation from Least Developed Country status is imminent. The United Nations is committed to supporting a smooth transition.

And you are preparing the final stages of your peace process – healing the wounds of war through transitional justice;

A process that must help to bring peace to victims, families and communities haunted by questions, and scarred by injustice; and help put the past to rest.

Transitional justice can play a vital role in securing lasting peace.

But it is not easy.

By nature, it is a delicate and complex process.

We know that transitional justice has the greatest chance of success when it is inclusive, comprehensive, and has victims at its heart.

When it centres on truth and reparations but also justice. When women participate fully. And when all victims of human rights violations can find meaningful redress.

I welcome efforts here in Nepal to drive progress and find solutions.

You are not alone.

The United Nations stands ready to support you to develop a process that meets international standards, your Supreme Court’s rulings, and the needs of victims – and to put it into practice.

The United Nations and Nepal are old friends.

Our cooperation runs deep.

Nepal has long been a cherished member of the UN family, and a powerful voice for developing countries, most recently as Chair of the LDC Group.

And this small country has made an outsized contribution to international peace:

Of all the countries on Earth, Nepal is the second largest contributor of troops to United Nations’ missions.

I am sincerely grateful to the Nepali people for their dedication, their courage and their service.

I would like to take a moment to honour those who have lost their lives serving under our blue flag.

Excellencies,

On climate action, Nepal is a frontrunner.

You are on target to reach net zero emissions by 2045.

Thanks to extraordinary reforestation efforts, trees now cover almost half of the country.

And you are one of the pioneers of our Early Warning Systems for All Initiative – which aims to protect every person on Earth by 2027.

Yet global crises are hitting Nepal hard, as they are developing countries around the world.

The lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation, and above all, the climate crisis, are threatening hard-won development gains and squeezing the funds available for investment.

Nepal contributes just a fraction of a percent to global emissions.

But monsoons, storms and landslides are growing in force and ferocity – sweeping away crops, livestock and entire villages – decimating economies and ruining lives.

In August, landslides caused by heavy rains caused devastation and killed scores of people.

And glaciers are melting at record rates.

Nepal has lost close to a third of its ice in just over thirty years.

The effect is devastating:

Swollen lakes bursting;

Rivers and seas rising;

Cultures threatened;

And mountainsides exposed – inflaming the risk of rockslides, landslides and avalanches.

Threats will continue mounting.

Himalayan glaciers provide fresh water to well over a billion people.

As they shrink, so do river flows.

In the future, major Himalayan rivers like the Indus, the Ganges and Brahmaputra would have their flows severely limited.

Combined with saltwater intrusion, that will decimate deltas in this region and beyond.

That could mean low-lying communities and entire countries erased forever;

Millions of people on the move;

And fierce competition for water and land.

Excellencies,

What is happening in this country as a result of climate change is an appalling injustice and a searing indictment of the fossil fuel age.

I am deeply concerned by those communities in Nepal facing the brutal impacts of the climate crisis.

The United Nations stands with them.

The world must do the same.

Nepal and other developing countries need far greater international support to aid development, accelerate climate action, and weather the current global storms.

I have proposed an SDG Stimulus that would release at least $500 billion a year in affordable long-term finance for sustainable development and climate action.

Member States welcomed the proposal at the General Assembly last month, and committed to advance it.

I call on them to take action now to make these commitments a reality.

And I urge leaders to act on climate without delay – with the biggest emitters leading from the front.

All countries must put the Acceleration Agenda I have proposed into effect, to limit the rise in global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

And they must make COP28 count, with a strong outcome building on the Global Stocktake.

We also need to deliver climate justice:

Developed countries must honour the promise of $100 billion a year; and double adaptation finance, as a first step to devoting half of climate finance to adaptation;

The most vulnerable must be at the centre of efforts to build climate resilience;

And all parties must operationalize the landmark Loss and Damage Fund at COP28 this year. And we need new and early pledges to the Fund.

The Nepalese people depend on it.

For families that have lost their home to storms; for communities forced to abandon their villages by rising rivers – loss and damage is not a negotiating point or a bureaucratic abstraction.

It is a lifeline.

Distinguished Ministers and parliamentarians,

Nepal has long been a friend to the international system.

And today that system is in dire need of refresh, revitalisation and reform.

The world is in a state of flux.

It is moving towards multipolarity.

That is a good thing. A multipolar world provides new opportunities for leadership and balance on the global stage.

But this new dynamic requires strong multilateral institutions to maintain peace.

History shows us that.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, Europe was multipolar, but without strong multilateral institutions, it descended into war that engulfed the world.

That is not a risk we can take.

We need strong international institutions that reflect the realities of today.

But ours mirror the world in which they were founded – almost eighty years ago.

That must change.

Developing countries must have far greater representation in international institutions.

I have called for reform of the outdated United Nations Security Council.

And I have proposed measures to reform the global financial architecture – so that it better represents developing countries and responds to their needs.

And these proposals are gaining real traction – at this year’s United Nations General Assembly and beyond.

The United Nations Summit of the Future next year is an important chance to push further progress.

And I count on Nepal’s support to help make the change we need a reality.

Excellencies,

Multilateralism must both reflect the world, and respond to it.

That means creating the institutions and tools we need to address new threats, and to seize new opportunities.

Today, technology is an example of both.

It can solve problems and spur development.

Or it can entrench divisions and inflame inequality.

Today, it is doing too little of the former, and too much of the latter.

We need a global response to the technologies that are changing the world at astonishing speed. To harness them for the good of humanity.

And all countries must have a say.

My High-Level Body on Artificial Intelligence includes experts from G77 countries.

It will report this year, so Member States can consider global governance options for artificial intelligence.

We must also bring the benefits of technology to all, and ensure that in a new technological era, no one is left behind.

That is the purpose of the Global Digital Compact the United Nations has proposed.

It aims to bring together governments and industry to ensure that technology works for all, and accelerates the Sustainable Development Goals.

Again, the Summit of the Future is an excellent chance to push progress.

And as a steadfast champion of multilateralism, peace and developing countries’ interests, Nepal will be a vital ally at the Summit.

Excellencies,

It has been my great pleasure to visit this extraordinary country over the past few days.

What I have seen confirms a simple truth:

Nepal is a friend to the world.

The world must be a better friend to Nepal.

The United Nations will never stop fighting to make that a reality.

Thank you.

 

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