Report of the Secretary-General on the Work of the Organization
28 September 2022
The past year has been one of deep and interlocking crises that are growing in scale and severity. The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic persists and, with less than 20 per cent of people in low-income countries vaccinated, recovery is uneven. The war in Ukraine has caused distress for millions of people in and far beyond the country and has amplified the effects of the climate crisis and long-standing inequalities around the world. All these challenges transcend borders and can be solved only with forceful collective action.
Through my report on Our Common Agenda (A/75/982), we launched and carried forward long-term recommendations, proposing solutions at the national, regional and global levels, to build a more equal, resilient and sustainable world, based on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals and underpinned by human rights. It contains proposals on ways to strengthen social cohesion and solidarity, prevent and manage crises and tackle ongoing and new threats to security. In response, Member States have endorsed the proposals that can move forward immediately, and they are fully engaged on those where further work and dialogue are needed to deliver on Our Common Agenda.
Throughout the year, the United Nations, as a platform for international cooperation and solidarity, convened stakeholders and drove global advocacy and cooperation to reduce poverty, tackle climate change and propel energy and digital transformation, reform food systems, reduce inequality and mobilize resources and action coalitions for the acceleration and expansion of sustainable development investments at scale to get countries back on track. Collectively across the United Nations system, we offered policy options and solutions, helped to shape strategies and amplified the voices of those on the front lines and those marginalized.
From efforts to bridge the finance and investment gap for developing countries and targeted partnerships for stronger climate action, to the United Nations Food Systems Summit, held in September 2021, and the new Doha Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries, we focused on helping countries to recover from the pandemic, prioritize crucial transitions in energy and digital connectivity and accelerate progress on sustainable development. The United Nations development system provided timely and coherent support to Member States, which welcomed the reforms that enable country teams to come together and leverage expertise and experience across the United Nations system to address interconnected challenges.
At the twenty-sixth session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, held in Glasgow, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Member States committed to recasting efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and to reach net zero emissions targets and phase out inefficient fuel subsidies. We are now pushing for Governments and the private sector to live up to those pledges and secure a rapid and just transition to renewables.
The peace and security architecture is under enormous strain, as exemplified most recently by the war in Ukraine. Converging threats, geostrategic competition and systemic inequalities are having devastating consequences, not only for people caught up in violence. The United Nations deployed a range of tools to prevent, mitigate, manage and resolve conflicts, protect civilians, confront the particular threats facing women and children and build pathways out of conflict and crisis to sustainable development and peace. In Yemen, we facilitated a renewable two-month truce that has reduced violence around the country. In Libya and the Sudan, we supported political dialogue and consultations to help navigate through periods of raised tensions. At the same time, we supported livelihoods and helped to strengthen the resilience of households.
Our humanitarian efforts aimed to support the many millions of people thrown into need by new and protracted conflicts, devastating natural disasters, the fallout of climate change and the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, response plans coordinated by the United Nations required $37.7 billion to provide life-saving assistance and protection to 174 million people across 60 countries. With the generous support of donors, and together with our partners, we mobilized a record $20.25 billion and reached some 107 million people with assistance.
Our efforts to end discrimination against women and girls included the Generation Equality Forum, which catalysed pledges on policy, programming and advocacy and $40 billion in financial commitments. As part of our work to mobilize action on the prevention of and response to survivors of gender-based violence, the Spotlight Initiative allocated $48 million to civil society and women’s grass-roots organizations and strengthened national action plans to eliminate violence against women and girls in more than 30 countries across the globe.
Youth 2030: The United Nations Youth Strategy gained momentum across the United Nations system. Young people’s voices were at the forefront of our climate efforts. At the country level, United Nations country teams became better equipped to expand programming involving and benefiting young people.
Through my call to action for human rights, we have extended support to help Member States repeal discriminatory laws and use temporary special measures to strengthen women’s participation. Principals across the United Nations system have included the voices of young people to advance climate action and climate justice. United Nations country teams are working more strategically and collectively on human rights issues on the ground.
Disarmament remains central to our work. As military spending rose to $2.1 trillion, the highest level since the end of the cold war, we supported intergovernmental processes aimed at ensuring a safe, secure and peaceful cyber domain, assisted expert discussions on lethal autonomous weapons systems and helped to establish a new intergovernmental process to reduce military threats in outer space.
Across the Secretariat, peace missions and the United Nations development system, we continued to confront the challenges associated with the global pandemic by streamlining processes, improving human resource mechanisms and communications and strengthening supply chains.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we reinforced testing and therapeutics, medical evacuation mechanisms and vaccinations for personnel and facilitated a safe return to the office and hybrid ways of working, according to local conditions around the world. Our communications positioned the United Nations as a leading voice in the pandemic response: the Verified initiative delivered reliable, science-based information, built confidence in health messaging and took on the parallel pandemic of disinformation.
In these turbulent times, the work of the United Nations is more necessary than ever. We are acutely aware that a reactive approach to crisis is failing the world’s people. In the next year, we will continue to help build resilience and reduce suffering, while pursuing the long-term strategies set out in my report on Our Common Agenda to prevent crises, manage risks and build a sustainable future for all.