Let me begin by recognizing President Macky Sall for his leadership as Chair over the last year.
President Assoumani, we look forward to working with you as incoming Chairperson.
And I want to commend all of you for uniting around the theme of “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa.”
The African Union is taking inspiring steps to help realize the enormous potential of this great continent.
Africa is poised for progress.
Agenda 2063. The Decade of Women’s Financial and Economic Inclusion. The continent’s abundance of natural resources. And its greatest advantage of all — its people, representing a diverse range of cultures and languages.
In particular, I’m pleased to see your strong focus on job-creation and the enormous potential of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
This represents a truly transformative pathway to job-creation and new sources of prosperity for Africans, especially for the youth.
And I applaud the exciting progress that has been made so far, and the commitment of President Issoufou as champion of this important effort.
The United Nations is proud to be your partner and to work together.
The ties between the African Union and the United Nations have never been stronger.
But I also recognize the enormous tests that Africa — and indeed our world — is facing on virtually every front.
I recently addressed the UN General Assembly on the multiple, inter-linked challenges confronting our world — greater than any in our lifetimes.
And In many ways, the people of Africa are bearing the brunt of these crises.
A dysfunctional and unfair global financial system that is failing developing countries when they need it most.
The deep inequalities in the availability of resources for the recovery from the pandemic.
A cost-of-living crisis — exacerbated by the consequences of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Climate chaos — that the people of Africa did very little to cause — that is whipping up floods and deadly droughts, putting communities and lives at risk and displacing millions.
And peace and security threats often involving interests — and profits — far beyond the continent’s borders.
Across all these areas, the message is clear.
Africa needs action.
First — economic action.
Africa is rich with potential.
But it is not rich in global support.
Investing in African pathways to prosperity requires finance.
And developing countries are repeatedly left in the lurch.
The global financial system routinely denies them debt relief and concessional financing, while charging extortionate interest rates.
As a result, vital systems are starved of investment — from health and education, to green technology, social protection and the creation of new, sustainable jobs.
Meanwhile, women and girls are still not receiving the support and investment they need — in the classroom, in the workplace, in civil society and across political systems.
African countries cannot invest in these critical areas and climb the development ladder with one hand tied behind their backs.
I have called for a new Bretton Woods moment to radically transform the global financial architecture.
The beating heart of this system — every decision, mechanism and process — should be centered on the needs of developing countries.
They should have a far greater voice in global institutions — including financial institutions. The Security Council, the Bretton Woods system are typical examples where Africa is dramatically underrepresented.
We need a new debt architecture that provides debt relief and restructuring to vulnerable countries — including middle-income countries — while providing immediate debt suspension and write-downs to countries in need.
Multilateral Development Banks should transform their business model and accept a new approach to risk.
This includes massively leveraging their funds to attract greater flows of private capital into your countries.
It means scaling-up guarantees and adopting first-loss positions in coalitions of financial institutions to support developing countries, particularly in Africa.
I will also continue pushing G20 leaders for an SDG Stimulus to support the Global South.
The SDG Summit this September must be a breakthrough moment in delivering support for developing countries and reforming a broken global financial system.
I will continue standing with you in this fight.
Second — Africa needs climate action.
The brutal injustice of climate change is on full display with every flood, drought, famine and heatwave endured on this continent.
The countries least responsible for this crisis are feeling its most devastating impacts.
Meanwhile, several African countries are demonstrating strong leadership on climate.
This includes Kenya’s green economy strategy, the effort to protect the tropical forests of the Congo, South Africa’s Just Transition Energy Partnership and the AU’s ambitious Green Stimulus Programme.
I am encouraged by the leading role of the African Small Island States, role they are playing in championing the Great Blue Wall Initiative.
It is clear, the world must decarbonize.
But we need to ensure that the transition to renewable energy is a just transition, particularly in Africa, where energy access and development challenges must be properly addressed.
This includes wider access to technologies like battery-storage systems, components and raw materials.
The upcoming Transboundary Battery and Electric Vehicle Value Chain Initiative hosted by DRC and Zambia is a good example.
But all these efforts must be matched by a tidal wave of support from developed countries.
They must deliver on the $100-billion promise to developing countries.
They must deliver on the loss and damage fund agreed to at the last COP, in Sharm el Sheikh.
They must deliver on doubling adaptation finance.
They must deliver on replenishing the Green Climate Fund.
And deliver on plans for early warning systems to protect every person in the world within five years — including the 6 in 10 Africans who lack these systems.
In September, I will convene a Climate Ambition Summit on our pathway to COP28 in December, where governments, business and civil society will demonstrate their commitment to reach net zero.