UN Secretary-General remarks at press conference at African Union Summit

The entire United Nations system is united in our support for African efforts to advance peace, prosperity and human rights across the continent.

Addis Ababa, 8 February 2020

I am very pleased to be back in Addis for wide-ranging conversations with African leaders and with the Chairperson of the African Union Commission.

Joining me are two members of my senior leadership team – Under-Secretary-General Hannah Tetteh, my Special Representative to the African Union, and Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa. 

Solidarity with the African Union.

Solidarity with the African people, around the continent.

The entire United Nations system is united in our support for African efforts to advance peace, prosperity and human rights across the continent.

And the strategic partnership between the African Union and the United Nations is of enormous importance to the world.

As we saw this morning, our relationship is growing ever stronger and more dynamic, particularly on the “Silencing the Guns” initiative, human rights, gender equality, climate change and sustainable development in the context of Africa’s Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda.

In our conversations today we took stock of efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Here, too, we want to build on African successes and advances such as the African Continental Free Trade Area.  We need a fair globalization so that Africa no longer suffers from unfair trading and financial rules, subsidies and other policies and market distortions that perpetuate inequality and make it harder for Africa to compete and prosper.

We also discussed the climate crisis.  Africa has done the least to cause this emergency yet suffers some of its most devastating consequences.  To address those consequences, I continue to press for greater international support for financing, adaptation and resilience across the continent.  Global commitment is needed to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, including by the big emitters.

It is essential that the developed world reduces its emissions. It is essential that other big emitters reduce their emissions. It’s essential that the developed world strongly supports Africa in adaptation, in building resilience and in the financial requirements that Africa needs to face climate change.

There is also a link between climate change and the unprecedented locust crisis plaguing Ethiopia and East Africa. 

Warmer seas mean more cyclones generating the perfect breeding ground for locusts.

Today locust swarms are as big as major cities – and it is getting worse by the day.

The FAO tells us a swarm the size of Paris will consume, in one day, as much food as half the population of France.

I express my deep solidarity with the people and communities affected.  The United Nations has issued an urgent appeal for assistance.  I ask the international community to respond with speed and generosity to ensure an effective response and control the infestation while we still have the chance. 

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