International community must harness momentum created by triple crises and act, says Norway

The United Nations

Norway Prime Minister, Erna Solberg, said on Wednesday the world is contending with three crises at the same time: a climate crisis, a health crisis, and an economic crisis.

“All of them call for a coordinated response. All of them underline why we need international cooperation. We need to remind ourselves of our collective strength,” she said in a pre-recorded message.

Remembering that “the United Nations was born out of crisis”, she said “crises have the potential to increase unity and resolve” and the world “must harness the momentum created and take action.”

Ms. Solberg was one of the speakers on the second day of the high-level week of the General Assembly. After being held virtually last year due the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s gathering will feature ”hybrid” activities that will include leaders in person along with virtual participants. 

Climate change

On climate change, she said more countries, especially large economies, need to raise their ambition level ahead of COP26, the UN Climate Conference that happens at the end of October in Glasgow.

She affirmed that Norway is doing its part and pointed to the country’s “new target to cut emissions by at least 50 per cent – and towards 55 per cent – by 2030.”

To tackle a warming climate, the Norwegian leader argued the world needs to urgently restore the health of the ocean.

She noted the agenda presented by High-level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, where members have made a commitment to sustainably manage all of their ocean areas by 2025.

“This is a bold target. But our ambition is even bolder: We call on all ocean and coastal states to make a similar commitment by 2030,” she asked.

COVID-19 pandemic

For Ms. Solberg, the COVID-19 pandemic “has shown, yet again, that global problems require global solutions” and asked for changes in the international system.

“We need to reform and strengthen the global health architecture to prevent, detect, and respond to future threats. And we need a fully financed WHO playing a central, coordinating role,” she defended.

She pointed to “a glaring inequity in vaccine distribution”, saying the result “is a disconnected world.”

“It is unacceptable and dangerous. The truth is: the pandemic is not over, and it will not be over anywhere until it’s over everywhere,” the Prime Minister added.

Turning to the recovery, she told Member States they “have an opportunity to do things right” and must align their efforts with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“We must invest in the green transition. We must invest in people, women and girls in particular. And we must fulfil the promise of the SDGs, to leave no one behind,” she said.

Addressing how that recovery can be financed, she asked for fair and effective tax systems and pointed to the agreement reached in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on a new framework for international tax reform, calling it “an important step forward.”

Democracy and foreign affairs

On a personal note, Ms. Solberg recalled that she stands as a Prime Minister who lost an election last week. After eight years, her Government will step down and hand over to a new administration.

“I hope they will succeed in taking our country forward. I am mentioning this because orderly transitions cannot be taken for granted,” she said.

She then pointed to a “decline in democracy and respect for human rights”, giving examples from Venezuela to Tigray and Myanmar.

On Afghanistan, she said she was “alarmed and saddened” by recent developments and “will judge the Taliban by their actions, not but by their words.”

“The composition of the interim government is discouraging,” she added.

In closing, the Prime Minister commended the Secretary-General for the “realistic assessment” he presented in his ‘Our Common Agenda’ earlier in the month.

“There is a way forward. We have already charted our course; the 2030 agenda is our roadmap. Let´s not hesitate. Let’s join forces and get started right away,” she concluded.

Full statement in English here.

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