From 1-3 October, UN Secretary-General António Guterres visited India during which he paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi, inaugurated the One UN House, held bilateral meetings, and delivered a lecture to young people. Here is a quick snapshot of his three day visit.
INAUGURATES upgraded UN HOUSE IN INDIAN CAPITAL
On 1 October, the UN Secretary-General kick started his visit by inaugurating the newly-refurbished headquarters, known as One UN House, in New Delhi, India. During the event, he said, “We want the UN system to be united to fully support India’s government development plans and to fully support India’s leadership in relation to climate change, the Sustainable Development Goals and so many other efforts in which India is showing a leadership role.” Read his full statement here.
He took a walk around the campus and witnessed first-hand how the house was upgraded by adapting, reusing and recycling the structure of a pre-existing building, which reduced the demolition works, cost and waste materials. Learn more here.
Marks non-violence day, urging world to follow mahatma gandhi’s example
The following day, on 2 October, to mark Non-Violence Day, he laid a wreath in honour of Mahatma Gandhi, at the Raj Ghat Memorial, in New Delhi. Describing him as “the greatest soul that ever lived”, the UN Secretary-General said that Gandhi’s example “demonstrates that the way to reach objectives, is through non-violence.”
In his message for the day, he recalled Gandhi’s commitment to social justice. He said it was important for a fairer globalisation process to take root, based on human dignity, at a time when the world is “striving to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, ensure gender equality and leave no one behind.”
Lauds clean india mission at the mahatma gandhi international sanitation convention
Following which, he spoke at the closing session of the Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention in New Delhi. He said, “All people have the right to safe water and sanitation. If we are to build resilient societies on a healthy planet and achieve the overarching ambition of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we must tackle this issue urgently, as is being done in India.” Read his full address here or listen to it here.
The UN Secretary-General went on to praise the Indian Government’s Clean India Mission, which seeks to achieve universal sanitation coverage, as the largest investment and largest mobilisation campaign in the world.
Addresses young people on global challenges and solutions
Later in the day, he delivered a public lecture on ‘Global Challenges and Global Solutions’ to young people at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi. Watch the full lecture here.
Met with prime minister of india and top leaders
Also, on the same day, UN Secretary-General met with Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, during which he thanked him for the strong cooperation between India and the UN, especially in support of the UN chief’s organisational reform effort. The Secretary-General also underscored the leadership role that India plays in South-South Cooperation.
Also during the visit, he held bilateral meetings with Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, President of India Ram Nath Kovind and Speaker of Lok Sabha Sumitra Mahajan and discussed the long-standing partnership between India and the UN.
Speaks at the first general assembly of the international solar alliance
Renewables accounted for some 70 per cent of net additions to global power in 2017, and India has set a goal to mobilise $1 trillion towards the deployment of 1,000 gigawatts of solar energy by 2030. Despite these positive developments, he said that if we do not change course by 2022, we risk missing the opportunity to avoid “runaway climate change.”
This, he said, is why he is convening next September’s UN Climate Summit, with the aim of bringing climate action to the top of the international agenda, providing leaders and stakeholders with the opportunity to showcase their ambition.
Confers un’s highest environmental honour on prime minister of india
The subsequent day, on 3 October, the UN Secretary-General conferred the ‘Champions of the Earth’ award to India’s Prime Minister, recognizing Narendra Modi’s efforts against climate change and pollution.
According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Prime Minister of India Modi has been recognized for his extensive efforts to control plastic pollution, including a pledge to eliminate all single-use plastic in India, by 2022. He has also been recognized for his joint initiative with French President Emmanuel Macron to champion the International Solar Alliance – a global partnership to scale up solar energy use and reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
In his prize-giving speech, he called on other world leaders to draw lessons from India and apply them in their own circumstances to “win the race against climate change.”
Shares a meal at a langar
Concluding his visit, the Secretary-General travelled to Amritsar to visit the Golden Temple, where he attended Langar – a community kitchen run by Sikh volunteers where people from all backgrounds and communities are provided nutritious food and clean water, at no cost.
During his visit, he expressed his deep gratitude to the “wonderful practice that the Golden Temple represents, receiving everybody, sharing with everybody the food, but, more than the food, sharing this wonderful spirit of peace, of harmony, of understanding that we badly need in today’s world.”