By Joyce Ojanji

As the world faces mounting challenges including climate change and disruptive technologies like artificial intelligence, global leaders have been urged to work together to fight these threats.

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said during the opening of the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA)’s high-level meeting.

“Our world is becoming unhinged. Geopolitical tensions are rising. Global challenges are mounting. And we seem incapable of coming together to respond,” Guterres said.

“The United Nations and the ways that countries cooperate must evolve to meet the era. The world has changed. Our institutions have not. We cannot effectively address problems as they are if institutions don’t reflect the world as it is. Instead of solving problems, they risk becoming part of the problem.”

Guterres warned that divides are deepening, among economic and military powers, between countries in the developed North and developing South, and between the global West and East. There has been a level of division among superpowers since World War Two and hence there is need for action not words, to tackle the world’s challenges and adopt needed reforms, he said.

He noted that the massive rainfall and dam collapses in the Libyan city of Derna is a sad snapshot of the state of our world. Thousands of people lost their lives — victims of years of conflict, climate chaos, leaders near and far who failed to restore peace, and all that “indifference”.

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during a session at the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA)’s high-level meeting.

On his part, Joe Biden, President of the United States of America (USA) said the world needs to deal with the worsening climate emergency, escalating conflicts, “dramatic technological disruptions” and a global cost-of-living crisis that is increasing hunger and poverty.

He referenced natural disasters around the world, including the recent flooding in Libya, as evidence of the threat that a warming world presents.

Biden connected climate change to the heat waves in the United States and China, flooding in Libya, drought in Africa and wildfires in southern Europe. “Together, these snapshots tell an urgent story of what awaits us if we fail to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and begin to climate-proof the world,” he said.

He also called on other nations to stand against Russia’s military aggression in Ukraine. “If we allow Ukraine to be carved up, is the independence of any nation secure?” he said. “We have to stand up to this naked aggression today and deter other would-be aggressors tomorrow.”

Biden warned of the danger the world faces unless it acts with urgency to rescue a set of 2030 development goals to wipe out hunger and extreme poverty and to battle climate change noting that only 15% of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)’ targets are on track and that many are going in reverse.

World leaders are gathered in New York for the 78th session of the General Assembly (UNGA 78) from 18th  to 22nd September, under the theme, “Rebuilding Trust and Reigniting Global Solidarity: Accelerating Action on the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals toward peace, prosperity, progress and sustainability for all.”

The 78th UN General Assembly is centered on a commitment to multilateralism and a rules-based international order. Taking into account multiple global crises such as Russia’s illegal war against Ukraine, the situation in the Sahel and the climate emergency, the overarching priorities are, accelerating the implementation of the sustainable development goals, strengthening global governance in line with the UN Secretary-General’s proposals on ’Our Common Agenda’ and building global partnership.