COVID-19 ‘Dress Rehearsal’ for Future Challenges, Secretary-General Tells Human Rights Festival, Warning of Shrinking Civic Space

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Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message to the Sustainable Development Goals Conference and Human Rights Festival, which opened in Berlin today:

It is a pleasure to greet this human rights festival. As the world confronts the COVID-19 pandemic, I welcome your focus on the Sustainable Development Goals. The virus has been a major setback to our efforts. For the first time in 30 years, poverty is rising. Human development indicators are declining. Human rights and civic space are under assault.

The pandemic has also exacerbated many longstanding inequalities, from wealth to gender, and exposed global fragilities more generally. COVID-19 is not only a wake-up call, it is a dress rehearsal for the world of challenges to come — climate change above all.

Thank you for your commitment to work as partners to overcome the virus and build a future of peace, dignity and sustainable development for all on a healthy planet. Please accept my best wishes for a memorable festival.

For information media. Not an official record.