Under the shadow of the war in Ukraine, and a worldwide energy and food crisis, world leaders are gathered in New York for the United Nations General Assembly this Tuesday.
Over the next six days, discussions will focus on topics such as climate change and major geopolitical divisions since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The task is a challenging one and the UN secretary-general’s opening remarks set a particularly grim tone.
“Let’s have no illusions. We are in rough seas. A winter of global discontent is on the horizon. A cost of living crisis is raging, trust is crumbling, inequalities are exploding and our planet is burning,” said Antonio Guterres.
“People are hurting with the most vulnerable suffering the most. The United Nations charter and the ideals it represents are in jeopardy. We have a duty to act, and yet we are gridlocked in colossal global dysfunction.”
Guterres further urged rich countries to tax windfall profits of fossil fuel companies and use that money to help states that have been harmed by climate change and people struggling with the cost of living crisis.
“The fossil fuel industry is feasting on hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies and windfall profits while household budgets shrink and our planet burns,” he stated.
“Polluters must pay,” he added.
He also used his platform to explain where he thought the money ought to be spent.
“Those funds should be redirected in two ways: to countries suffering loss and damage caused by the climate crisis; and to people struggling with rising food and energy prices.”
Nearly 150 heads of state are expected at the event. Despite political divisions, the UN remains a key gathering for world leaders not only to deliver their views but also to meet privately and discuss challenges.
On the sidelines of the meeting, French President Emmanuel Macron met with his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi.
The talks come as Europe is attempting to lead diplomatic efforts to revive the Iran nuclear deal. Tehran has been warned there will not be a better opportunity to find an agreement on the disputed treaty.