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UN urges boosting support for developing nations, reforms

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks during a press briefing at United Nations Headquarters on Feb 4, 2020 in New York. (ANGELA WEISS / AFP)

UNITED NATIONS — United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and other speakers called for massive support provided to the developing nations and an urgent reform of the global financial system at a UN ceremony Thursday.

They made the remarks at the handover ceremony of the presidency of the Group of 77 (G77) and China at the UN headquarters in New York. Pakistan, the outgoing chair of the group in 2022, passed on its chairmanship to Cuba, who will assume the one-year presidency for 2023.

We need to re-energize the global economy through massive support to the developing world

Warning that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are "thrown dramatically off-track," the UN chief underlined intensified support should be invested in the developing world.

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"Rescuing the SDGs means ensuring that developing countries receive massive support to reduce poverty and hunger, and invest in systems like healthcare, education, social protection, gender equality and renewable energy," he stressed.

"We need to re-energize the global economy through massive support to the developing world," the secretary-general said.

He also expressed gratitude for the G77 and China's "steadfast support of the United Nations and our work with countries to make progress towards the SDGs."

As for the global financial system, Guterres said it was "morally bankrupt."

"It is a broken system favoring wealthy countries and penalizing less-wealthy ones," he said. "In particular, vulnerable middle-income countries are routinely denied the debt relief and concessional financing they need."

"I will continue urging leaders and international financial institutions to join forces and develop creative ways to ensure that developing countries can access debt relief and concessional financing when they need it most," said the head of UN.

Echoing the secretary-general's speech, UN General Assembly (UNGA) President Csaba Korosi said that "we can no longer ignore the pressing need for reforming our global financial institutions."

"I am sure that I can count on the G77 and China to galvanize momentum among member states to get the world back on track to achieve our common goals," said the UNGA president.

In a virtual message to the group, Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel ratified the commitment to nations' development in the group.

He appreciated "the confidence placed in Cuba" while praising "Pakistan's commendable work as the head of the group during 2022."

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Diaz-Canel acknowledged the responsibility of presiding over "this diverse and thriving group at a time of monumental challenges for developing countries," highlighting "the valuable heritage we have been able to forge as a group in almost six decades of existence."

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, speaking via video link at the ceremony, said he was confident that the G77 and China has the capacity to collectively confront and overcome the mounting external economic challenges, and promote a more just and equitable international economic order.

"I am confident that in 2023 … the Group of 77 and China will respond actively and boldly to our five imposing challenges and grasp all available opportunities to advance our common objectives of achieving the SDGs and environmental goals," he said.