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UN chief calls for “UN 2.0” to tackle 21st-century challenges

by Haruna Gimba
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By Muhammad Amaan

Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres has emphasised the need for a “strengthened and updated” United Nations to better reach and support people around the world.

Guterres made the call at the opening of the UN 2.0 week, which showcases series of virtual events, including panel discussions and best practice-sharing dialogues.

No fewer than over 40 speakers from across the UN system and partner organisations are slated to speak at the event, taking place from April 22 to 26.

“Amid multifaceted crises ranging from conflicts and climate to poverty and inequality, the world looks to the UN “to help deliver the better, safer and greener world we need.

“But we cannot solve 21st century problems with 20th century tools. We need a UN 2.0,” he said.

The transformation in skills and culture is encapsulated in the UN chief’s vision of a UN 2.0,

It focused on fostering cutting-edge capabilities in data, digital solutions, innovation, foresight, and behavioural science to deliver stronger results and help countries accelerate efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Secretary-General’s vision is elaborated in a policy brief launched in September 2023.

Guterres also underlined the need for a “forward-thinking culture” at the Organisation, powered by rapid technological advances.

He said this was particularly important, given the fundamental changes proposed in Our Common Agenda, his vision for global cooperation and getting the SDGs back on track, as well as the Summit of the Future, which will be convened on September 22 and 23 in New York.

“We’re already seeing what is possible: From online resources for remote schools to humanitarian aid based on real-time data and technology that helps countries forecast and build resilience to disasters,” the UN chief said.

“Ultimately, UN 2.0 will make us better partners for countries as they achieve results for their people.”

Also speaking at the opening, Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed explained that UN 2.0 is the Organisation’s response to how “we will pivot and meet the world where it is at and where it needs to go.”

“Thinking about what that means for investing in our staff, but also attending to many of the ‘quintet of change’ issues,” she added, pointing to the five topics – data, digital solutions, innovation, foresight and behavioural science.

Mohammed expressed hope that the transformations would make the UN more fit for purpose.

“That we can actually get out there and raise the ambitions and be more responsive for the needs,” she added.

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