António Guterres (UN Secretary-General) at the G20 (Rome, Italy) – Press Conference
Production Date
Video Length
Asset Language
Speaker Name
Speaker Role
Speaker Affiliation
Press Conference by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres before the opening of the G20 Summit in Rome (Italy)

Ladies and gentlemen of the media, Buongiorno.  


We are at a pivotal moment for our planet.    


On the eve of COP26 in Glasgow, all roads to success go through Rome.  


But let's be clear — there is a serious risk that Glasgow will not deliver.  


Several recent climate announcements might leave the impression of a rosier picture.   


Unfortunately, this is an illusion.    


The current Nationally Determined Contributions — formal commitments by governments — still condemn the world to a calamitous 2.7 degree increase.   


Even if recent pledges were clear and credible — and there are serious questions about some of them — we are still careening towards climate catastrophe.  


Under the best-case scenario, temperatures will still rise well above two degrees.  


That is a disaster.    


If we want real success — and not just a mirage — we need more ambition and more action.   

That will only be possible with a massive mobilization of political will.  And that requires trust among the key actors.  


Today, trust is in short supply.  There are serious questions of credibility.   


We see dangerous levels of mistrust among the big powers.  Among members of the G20.  Between developed and developing countries — including emerging economies.    


The most important objective of this G20 summit must be to re-establish trust — by tackling the main sources of mistrust — rooted in injustices, inequalities and geo-political divisions.   


My appeal to the G20 is for decisive steps to bridge the trust gap on three fronts.   


First, vaccine inequality.  


I have long been pushing the G20 to lead a global vaccination plan to reach everyone, everywhere.  


That plan did not materialize — largely because of geo-political divides.   


Global coordinated action has taken a backseat to vaccine hoarding and vaccine nationalism.  


People in the richest countries are getting third doses of vaccine, while only 5 per cent of Africans are fully vaccinated.  


Last month, I joined the World Health Organization in launching a new Global Vaccination Strategy with an aim of getting vaccines into the arms of 40 per cent of people in all countries by the end of this year — and 70 per cent by mid-2022.   


I urge G20 countries to fully support this Strategy and to coordinate their actions for success.  


That is the only way to end the pandemic for everyone, everywhere.   


Second, the vast disparity in resources for pandemic recovery is eroding trust.   


Advanced economies are investing nearly 28 per cent of their Gross Domestic Product into economic recovery.     


For middle-income countries, that number falls to 6.5 per cent.   


For the Least Developed Countries, it's less than two per cent – of a much smaller amount.   


The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects that over the next five years, cumulative economic growth per capita in Sub-Saharan Africa will be 75 per cent less than the rest of the world.  


The recovery is amplifying inequalities. This is immoral.   


The IMF recently issued $650 billion in Special Drawing Rights.  


But this support largely goes to the countries that need them least since the SDRs are distributed according to quotas — an injustice in itself.   


That's why I have been calling for a substantial — not symbolic —  re-allocation of unused SDRs to vulnerable countries that need them, including middle-income countries.  


The G20 has a key role to guarantee it. The G20 taken some steps in relation to debt for developing countries. But far more is needed.   


I urge the G20 to extend the Debt Service Suspension Initiative into next year and make it available to highly indebted vulnerable and middle-income countries that request it.   

Building on the Common Framework on Debt Treatments, we also need a mechanism for debt relief that actually works and is available to all in need and we are a long way from it. Countries should not be forced to choose between servicing their debt or serving their people.   


Third, trust is being undermined by a lack of climate ambition on mitigation, adaptation and finance.    


We need greater ambition on mitigation to get us on a credible pathway to 1.5 degree Celsius —   

a target that science tells us is the only sustainable future for our world.   


This requires concrete action now to reduce global emissions by 45 per cent by 2030. G20 countries have a particular responsibility to keep the 1.5 degree goal alive, as they represent around 80 per cent of emissions.   


According to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities in light of national circumstances, developed countries must lead the effort.  


But given the present situation, emerging economies, too, must go the extra mile to achieve effective global emissions reductions in this decade.  


We need maximum ambition, from all countries on all fronts.  


Ambition on adaptation means donors — including multilateral development banks — allocating at least half of their climate finance towards adaptation and resilience.    


They are far from it.  


The G20 must lead a strong impulse for this to be possible.  


Ambition on climate finance includes making good on the commitment to provide $100 billion each year to developing countries.   


I welcome efforts led by Canada and Germany to help get us there.  


It is a first step — but it delays the largest support for years, without clear guarantees.   


Unfortunately, the message to developing countries is essentially this:  The check is in the mail.   


On all our climate goals, we have miles to go.  And we must pick up the pace.        


Scientists are clear on the facts.     


Leaders must be as clear in their actions.      


Glasgow can be a turning point towards a safer, greener world for our children and grandchildren.   


It is not too late.   


But we must act now.  


I urge the G20 to show the solidarity that people want and our world desperately needs — and this begins by rebuilding trust and credibility, first of all, among their members.  


Thank you.  


Spokesman:  Thank you very much. First question is James Bays, Al Jazeera.  


Question: Secretary-General, how worried are you about the ongoing crisis in Sudan, and the plans for further protests in the coming hours? And, on the climate, what is the minimum G20 countries must deliver at this summit for there to be a chance of a success at COP 26 in Glasgow?  


Secretary-General:  First of all, in relation to Sudan, I want to reaffirm my strong condemnation of the coup and the need to re-establish the transition system that was in place. Tomorrow there is a manifestation that is announced. I urge the military to show restraint and not to create any more victims. People must be allowed to demonstrate peacefully. And this is essential.  


The G20 is in my opinion, the possibility to bridge three gaps. First, a gap in mitigation. We are still above what the scientists tell us that are the levels of emission that should be needed in 2030 and in 2050. It is clear that it leads nowhere if developed countries will try to blame the emerging economies and the emerging economies will try to blame developed countries. This is the moment for everyone to do the maximum - developed countries must do more and the emerging economies must also do more instead of creating a scenario of blaming each other. That is why this G20 is an opportunity to rebuild trust and for all to do their best.   


Then there is adaptation. We need a strong message from the G20 to all multilateral development banks, to all other financial institutions, and for their own ministers of finance, or ministers of development cooperation, in order to increase the share of adaptation in climate finance from 20 to 50 percent, or at least though as much as possible in that direction.  


Then we need to stress the capacity to support developing countries. And that means more clarity, in the way that 100 billion [US dollars] can be effectively delivered. But that means a lot more. That means the globalization and international financial institutions, that means the capacity of those international financial institutions also to leverage private finance. So that means technical support to developing countries. And again, the key in establishing these relationships of trust is among the members of the G20.  


Question: Good afternoon, James Landale of BBC News. Secretary-General you say that there is a serious risk that Glasgow will not deliver. Is that a warning or a prediction? Does it reflect a failure of diplomacy by the hosts? And what impact will there be? Because the absence of President Xi [Jinping] and other leaders. Thank you.   


Secretary-General:  Well, let's, first of all, I pay tribute to the strong commitment, to the permanent engagement and to all the efforts done by the British presidency of the COP. If an agreement is not reached, in a way that is satisfactory, I do not think anyone can blame the presidence of the COP. And, again, I pay tribute to what has been their continued effort.   


Second, this is not a prediction. This is a warning. I think we are still on time to put things on track. And I think this coming meeting is the opportunity to do that. This is not the moment to announce the results of Glasgow. This is the moment to push for Glasgow to have the right results.   


Third, in the COPs, the presence of heads of state in large numbers is not common. In the COPs, some heads of state come, others do not. I do not pay too much importance to the absence of heads of state in the COP.  


What matters are the contributions of the National Determined Contributions of countries.   That is where I believe that - I think you mentioned Putin [President Vladmir Putin] and Xi [President Xi Jinping], but there are others. I mean, what I want is that those two and all the others to make an extra mile effort in order to improve their National Determined Contributions.   


Spokesman: Thank you. In the front row. Sorry, if you could wait for the microphone and identify yourself, please. Thank you. 


Question:  Associated Press.  Secretary-General, you spoke about vaccine equality, and also the widening gap and how pandemic recovery money is being spent. On the G20, in Africa, there's only one country, South Africa. And the most populous, and the most economically important one, Nigeria is not a member. So, within the G20, do you see room for improvement among the membership and how does this imbalance, if you want to call it that, affect, basically, what comes out of the G20, when it does come out? 


Secretary-General: Well, what I have suggested in the past to the G20, was to create an Emergency Task Force, gathering the countries that produce vaccines and the countries that can produce vaccines. And based on that, at the time, to create the conditions to double the production of vaccines, and to have an equitable distribution, according to a global vaccination plan. 


We needed a plan. And we needed a structure where those that are powerful, that can deal with the pharmaceutical companies, and force the pharmaceutical companies to do what is necessary to make sure that production can increase, in relation to licenses, in relation to technological support, making sure of course, that they get the right organizations. So, this is what I asked the G20 to do.  


I don't think that in the G20, we have sufficient unity for such coordinated command so that the process will take place. And so, the World Health Organization, as we said, for the strategy, which of course is not a complete plan of action, because the World Health Organization does not have the power to do it. The power is in the countries that have the capacities I mentioned.  


The World Health Organization presented a strategy in which - the launch of which I participated in, fully supporting it - with a number of measures aimed at a minimum, which is to guarantee that in every country, 40 per cent of people are vaccinated [by] the end of the year and 70 per cent [by] June next year. 


What I hope the G20 does are two things. First, to support, to adopt, but the plan needs to be implemented. And the implementation will only be possible if the G20 members that produce vaccines, or those that have vaccines in excess, if they do in a coordinated way, the actions necessary for an equitable distribution. Which means, they need to coordinate among themselves, the way to guarantee that vaccines reach effectively everywhere. Instead of two countries giving vaccines to the same and other countries not receiving anything.  


So, we need to defend, to support this strategy. And we need the countries of the G20 to coordinate their actions in order to make sure that this plan, this strategy, is implemented. 


Spokesman: Sky News Italia 


Question: Secretary-General, just a couple of questions about what you were saying that you're afraid of, or something arrived in Glasgow but also about vaccinations. So I'd like to ask you more deeply what you consider as a satisfying result and outcome of this G20 on Sunday evening, according to these two main crises - the vaccination crisis for the poorest countries and of course the climate crisis? 


Secretary-General: On vaccines, what I just said, support to the strategy presented by the World Health Organization, and coordination among member States for the implementation of this strategy, because many of them produce vaccines, or have already vaccines in excess, and can distribute vaccines. This needs to be done in a coordinated way, among all the countries of the G20.  


In relation to the COP. What a G20 must produce is, first, building upon the proposal that was presented by Canada and Germany, which as I said, is an important step forward in relation to the $100 billion to go an extra mile, and clarify how the $100 billion can be effectively implemented.  


Second, to decide and to appeal for a meaningful increase of adaptation in climate finance to the benefit of the countries of the developing world, Small Island Developing States, African countries that are now suffering the impacts of climate change more than anyone else.  


And third, create conditions, namely by an understanding between developed countries and the emerging economies, allowing for an effective reduction of emissions in this decade. So independently of the different projects about what might happen in 2050 or 2060, we are close to tipping points. And if in this decade, we have not a meaningful reduction in emissions, we risk to make the 1.5 degrees, irreversibly impossible. 


Spokesman: Thank you. Over here. 


Question: Thank you, Secretary General, I'm Simon [inaudible], for Fox News. How important you consider American leadership on climate to be, particularly considering President Biden has big plans, but was not able to get into Congress before setting off for Europe? Thank you. 


Secretary-General: I think that American leadership is absolutely essential. And I hope that the American political institutions are able to do what is needed to create the conditions for their leadership to be effective. 


Spokesman: Thank you. Gentleman right here.  


Question: Thank you, Crispian Balmer, from Reuters […] In recent days, you heard or seen anything that makes you hopeful that the G20 will achieve what you've just laid out? And if they don't, who can bring pressure on these countries and these leaders to do what you've just laid out? Who can, if they don't decide now, who can make them change their mind? 


Secretary-General: But I'm not in the secret of the negotiations taking place. I believe those negotiations are difficult and complex. The indications we have is that lots of meetings are taking place and will go on taking place. But my belief is that if people put aside, a psychology of division, and people understand that independently of geostrategic divisions, there is a vital common interest for all. If that happens, I think that it will be possible for the G20 to 

really advance in these three dimensions. The dimension of vaccines, the dimension of equitable recovery and the dimension of climate. The second question was? 


Question: How can we make them change their mind if they fail to produce these results? 


Secretary-General: The people must, and I'm encouraged to see the youth movement. I'm encouraged to see the public opinion more and more understanding that we are 

on the verge of the abyss. I see cities, more and more announcing plans to themselves get to carbon neutrality, and I see interesting developments in the private sector. I gathered a number of asset owners, the so-called Net Zero asset owners Alliance, they represent now $9 trillion. They have concrete plans for 2025, 2030 and through 2050, to make sure that their portfolios will be totally aligned with the 1.5 degrees, and fully in line with net zero emissions in 2050.  


Beyond that, we have the Glasgow Alliance of about $9 trillion. Their commitments are not so, I mean, guaranteed. But I see that more and more financial institutions understand that the bet in the brown economy is a lost bet, and that's better to invest in the green economy, then to go on wasting money building what will be inevitably a set of standard assets. And these brings us, of course, to the central question of coal. The phasing off of coal is an essential element in the fight against climate change. 


Spokesman: Thank you very much, and good afternoon.