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UN chief: World faces breakdown of social order if immediate action not taken

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres addresses journalists during an EU summit at the European Council building in Brussels. on June 24, 2021. (John Thys, Pool Photo via AP, File)
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres addresses journalists during an EU summit at the European Council building in Brussels. on June 24, 2021. (John Thys, Pool Photo via AP, File)

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issues a dire warning that the world is moving in the wrong direction and faces “a pivotal moment” where continuing business as usual could lead to a breakdown of global order and a future of perpetual crisis.

In a report presented to the General Assembly, the UN chief says that the world is under “enormous stress” on almost every front, and the COVID-19 pandemic was a wake-up call demonstrating the failure of nations to come together and take joint decisions to help all people in the face of a global life-threatening emergency.

Guterres says that this “paralysis” extends far beyond COVID-19 to the failures to tackle the climate crisis and “our suicidal war on nature and the collapse of biodiversity,” the “unchecked inequality” undermining the cohesion of societies, and technology’s advances “without guard rails to protect us from its unforeseen consequences.”

In the report — “Our Common Agenda” — outlining his vision “to fix” the world, Guterres says that immediate action is needed to protect the planet’s “most precious” assets from oceans to outer space, to ensure it is livable, and to deliver on the aspirations of people everywhere for peace and good health.

He also calls for an immediate global vaccination plan implemented by an emergency task force, saying “investing $50 billion in vaccinations now could add an estimated $9 trillion to the global economy in the next four years.”

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