Informal Briefing to Member States on Priorities for 2021


President of the General Assembly,


Ladies and Gentlemen,

2020 was a global annus horribilis – a year of death, disaster and despair.

The COVID-19 pandemic unleashed havoc in every country and every economy.

We lost 2 million lives, including dear members of our UN family.

The human toll continues to multiply.

The economic costs continue to mount.

500 million jobs — gone.

Extreme poverty — back up to levels not seen in a generation.

Inequalities widening.

Hunger rising again.

And global fragilities continue to be exposed.

We have declared war on nature, and nature is striking back.

The climate crisis is raging.

Last year natural disasters caused $210 billion in damage – and incalculable human costs.

Biodiversity is collapsing.

Meanwhile, geopolitical tensions are undermining our collective efforts for peace.  

Humanitarian needs are escalating.

Forced displacement reached record levels last year.

The risk of nuclear and chemical proliferation grows. 

Human rights face a backlash.

Hate speech is booming.

Lawless behaviour in cyberspace has created a new domain for the propagation of crime, violence, misinformation and disruption.

And COVID-19 has had an especially pernicious impact on the world’s women and girls.