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‘Five-Alarm Global Fire’ – United Nations’ Top Priorities In 2022



UN Secretary-General

In the first address of 2022 to the United Nations General Assembly, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has stressed the five major global priorities to be tackled that are a threat to human survival. He has termed these priorities as “five-alarm global fire”. 

“We face a five-alarm global fire that requires full mobilization of all countries” – Guterres

In January 2022, Guterres focused on the immediate need to tackle the five prominently looming global threats that are expected to take a worse shape if not taken care of now. He emphasized the fact that the global changes in terms of health insecurity, financial crisis, and the humanitarian issues of poverty, hunger, and migration must be the top priorities of the world leaders. Similarly, he equally stressed the consequences of climate change and rising insecurity due to extremist mindsets and ideological rigidity in world politics, economy, and religious spheres. 

The five prominent threats according to the UN Secretary-General under the “five-alarm global fire” include:

Alarm 1: Battling the Covid-19 pandemic

With the ongoing pandemic and its frequent variants emerging every few months, the world has faced a health crisis and uncertainty that has affected all walks of life. Amidst this emergency, many parts of the world still lack vaccination facilities which is the responsibility of the United Nations and the world leaders to ensure vaccine delivery in all areas of the world.

The Secretary-General highlighted that the world is facing pandemic-led discrimination in the shape of travel apartheid in specific countries and lack of doses in the poor countries. Due to this, the pandemic, according to Guterres, is not going away as new cases are emerging with each passing day.

“Instead of Covid spreading like wildfire, we need vaccines to spread like wildfire” – Guterres

Thus, an indiscriminate and free-of-cost vaccine drive throughout the world is the only solution to human survival in these times.

Alarm 2: Tackling global financial crisis

According to the Secretary-General, the global financial institutes went bankrupt during the peak of the pandemic. They need to be revived in a more holistically beneficial and equal way so that the world may rise against the pandemic collectively. 

This statement and emphasis on the global financial inequality and the economic crisis have come right after Oxfam reported on global income inequality. This report highlights how the world had plunged deep into income inequality, especially during the pandemic. This is further widened the gap between the rich and the poor; the developing and the developed countries.

To tackle this, Guterres has recommended drawing the Special Drawing Rights (a foreign reserve asset) towards the countries that need help in their tax systems and other illegal money transfer systems to make them transparent.

Alarm 3: Dealing with climate emergency

Climate change and the consequent extreme events are wreaking havoc in the world. It has not spared any part of the world; be it the most developed countries or the poorest ones, climate change is posing equal threats to all.

Thus, to tackle this, the Secretary-General has once again focused on the need for a green revolution and a green transition for sustainable development. In this regard, the SDGs have been further enhanced and stressed to be implemented to their full potential.

Alarm 4: Managing the threats posed by technology and cyberspace

The Secretary-General emphasized the fact that “the growing digital chaos is benefitting the most destructive forces and denying opportunities to ordinary people”. He also asked the world leaders to make sure that the tech companies should create a safe digital space for everyone without discrimination.

He further focused on the need to make the digital space safe in terms of keeping private information secured and highly uncompromisable. In this regard, he proposed the establishment of the Global Digital Compact where the world governments, private and public enterprises, and civil society join hands to create a better digital space planning and cooperation to tackle the potential threats. 

Alarm 5: Ensuring global peace and security

With a lot happening in the Middle East, the Korean peninsula, the European region, South Asia, and especially in Afghanistan, the Secretary-General wants the world leaders to make sure the hunger and poverty are curbed before they turn into the global criminal and extremist ideology. 

He wants the world to deal with the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan, Africa, etc., so that the extremist elements could also be curbed as the war-torn poverty-stricken countries are the budding grounds for such elements that rise from hunger, inequality, and lack of basic facilities. 

“This world is too small for too many hotspots” – Guterres

The concern of the UN Secretary-General is valid, relevant, and must be equally important to the world leaders as they are going to bear the consequences of the above-mentioned “five-alarm global fire”, if not tackled seriously and soon.

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