Thank you very much dear Professor Sidhu,
Distinguished briefers and guests,
Let me at the very beginning express my thanks to the NYU for co-hosting with the Mission of Italy this important event. It’s a pleasure to address this audience in one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the world.
The topic today is Our Common Agenda. The focus of our conversation should be on the vowel “O”, which stands for ‘our’. Because the problems highlighted in Our Common Agenda, presented by the Secretary-General Guterres, are common problems and concern all of us. “Our” problems.
The pandemic has certainly changed our lives and exposed our common vulnerabilities. Covid-19 (as we are facing now in many countries the 4th wave) might not be an isolated phenomenon, but on the contrary we might have entered in an era of pandemics.
Also, we should not forget the compelling and dramatic reality of climate change which, if not addressed properly, will soon make the planet uninhabitable; plus the speed and pervasiveness of digitalization and of course industrial revolution; the ever increasing activities in outer space; demography and increasing divide between the North and the South of the world.
These global challenges require global solutions, and efforts, and cooperation among Member states, international institutions, stakeholders, private sector, experts, young people, civil society and so on. To address these common challenges, multilateralism and cooperation are no longer a choice, but a necessity.
Those challenges are also strictly linked to the 2030 Agenda and to the SDGs.
When I say that we have global challenges which require common efforts, this does not mean that differences and geopolitical competition between States or different political, constitutional, and normative systems will disappear, or go away. No, these differences are here to stay.
Regional crises and conflicts will continue, for obvious geopolitical reasons and competitions, but they will definitely be exacerbated by the global issues that I shortly described earlier, such as climate change (the nexus between climate change and security is an example).
So, I would say that despite those differences and competition among member states, cooperation on the global commons has become a necessity for all. And that without it, without such a cooperation, we all – the powerful and the less powerful, the rich and the poor – will find ourselves in a lose-lose situation.
Let me give you some examples: Can we be safe if there is no vaccination for all? Certainly not. So far, only 7% of the population in Africa has received COVID vaccine. We are talking about just less than 80 million people fully vaccinated out of a total of more than 4 billion people in the world which received at least one dose. Expanding vaccine access and distribution in the Global South is therefore crucial to achieve the 40% target everywhere by 2021 and the 70% by June 2022, as set by the WHO and also mentioned in the G20 Leaders Declaration of Rome.
The good news here is that multilateral tools that have been developed and financed are working, and they need to be certainly scaled-up. The Covax Facility is undergoing the biggest equitable distribution of vaccines in the history of humanity. As of today Covax has delivered 507 million vaccines in 144 Countries. All Governments must continue to invest in Covax and scale up access and distribution. While still a lot of work needs to be done.
I’ll give you another example: can we be safe – talking about Climate Change – if the world loses 24 billion tons of fertile soil annually due to dryland degradation, with significant negative impacts on food production and economic activity, and if by 2025 two-thirds of the world will be living under “water-stressed” conditions with 1.8 billion people experiencing absolute water scarcity? Certainly not.
So, this was to stress once again that a better, coordinated, networked and multi-stakeholder, result-oriented multilateralism is essential – today more than ever – to address our common challenges. The Common Agenda, Our Common Agenda, proposes valuable inputs and recommendations on how to shape this renewed, effective multilateralism. This is why we stand ready to support this approach.
OCA provides a good and compelling analysis about our problems and a possible way forward: it is an agenda of action designed to accelerate the implementation of existing agreements – including, as I mentioned, the SDGs – in order to 1) re-embrace global solidarity; 2) renew the social contract between Governments and their people and within societies; 3) face the “infodemic” plaguing our world by defending facts, science and knowledge; 4) measure economic prosperity and progress in a correct way; 5) deliver more for young people and succeeding generations so that they can be better prepared for the challenges ahead; 6) strengthen the multilateral system anchored with the United Nations;
So, this is the importance of Our Common Agenda, which we appreciate and which now needs to be implemented. It’s now about implementation. Implementation, implementation, implementation. And in my view there are two main dimensions of this implementation:
1) one is the governance: how to improve the system of international and global governance, with institutions that work properly, and a common set of rules and principles.
2) the second dimension of implementation has to do with the resources needed to implement the Agenda. This Agenda is costly in economic terms, and we need an effective combination of governments and private’s resources.
In addressing these two dimensions, there is a central role to be played by the UN, also in securing the implementation through an inclusive and multistakeholder process. Eventually, a key factor will be the role of Member States, the awareness of the Member States, their sense of responsibility. This responsibility lies primarily with major economies, the major countries, I would say the G20 Countries.
This year, Italy, as you know held the presidency of the G20, and played a central role in promoting global cooperation especially in the areas of health, climate change, and Food Security and Nutrition.
We achieved for this year some important results that I would like to remind here briefly: we facilitated the G20 consensus on the global taxation agreement, which will include a minimum taxation threshold and a fairer distribution of tax revenues at global level; we agreed also to the extraordinary allocation of 650 billion dollars of Special Drawing Rights by the IMF and to the voluntary re-allocation of resources to the most vulnerable Countries; we committed to accelerate global vaccination and further financing of the Covax Facility, among others. I have a long list of things here, but I just wanted to give you an example on how we tried to use the G20 to push forward this multilateral agenda. Italy was also co-sponsor of the COP26 together with the UK. These results are all important
steps. But certainly, they are not enough.
So let me conclude my remarks. I would say that after one year of hectic and relevant diplomacy (with the publication of OCA, the G20, the COP26) we made some steps forward, but honestly the jury is still out on whether – to use the expression of the Secretary-General Guterres – it will be breakdown or breakthrough.
The years ahead until the end of this decade will be decisive to know what is in store for the future of the planet and that of the future generations. This requires, today more than ever, a lot of responsibility by all of us: governments, diplomats, and also, as I said, other stakeholders including the private sector and the civil society. I thank you very much.