UNITED Nations Secretary-General António Guterres says a number of people in societies do not feel they’re being put first but considered last.
In his remarks at Putting People First session of the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Friday, Guterres stressed the need for a fair globalisation.
“To put people first was my slogan when I ran for prime minister of Portugal more than two decades ago, but it was also the slogan of my opponent, and in these two decades I’ve seen this slogan everywhere, every time,” he said. “The problem is that for a number of people in our societies, they do not feel they’re being put first but they feel they’re being considered last.”
Guterres said the combination of globalisation and technological change that generated enormous wealth and reduced extreme poverty had also dramatically increased the inequality within societies and at the same time, left people, sectors and regions behind, “generating the kind of frustrations that make many people mistrust their political establishment or international organisations like mine [the UN].”
“We need to be much more effective in reducing inequality in our societies because the trend will be for inequality to keep on growing. This means a more effective combination, a mix of policies – fiscal policy, monetary policy, jobs policy, policies in the social safety net – in order to make sure that we are really able to reduce inequalities against the trend that will push inequality to grow,” Guterres said.
He said there was need to be much better prepared for the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution led by artificial intelligence in societies.
“The next two decades will see a massive creation of jobs and massive destruction of jobs, but they will be very different and it will not be obvious how to move people from one side to another. Some ideas are really clear. We need a much bigger investment in education and skills, but not education and skills to learn things but to learn how to learn things, and there is still a lot to be reformed in our educational systems to reach that,” Guterres said. “On the other hand, we need to consider a different relation between work, leisure and other occupations. The nature of work will change, and in some societies you might need a new generation of safety nets.”
He called for much more effective affirmative action for gender equality because “this is a question of power.”
“We still live in male-dominated societies, in a male-dominated culture and we will only be able to really move towards gender equality with a strong push for empowerment of women in all sectors: those in the political systems, in the business, in the economy and in the social sectors,” said Guterres. “And one concern about this: when we see the preponderance of men in technological professions, I’m afraid that the Silicon Valleys of this world will be a factor reducing gender equality instead of moving in that direction. We need a fair globalisation and I think we have a blueprint for that, the Agenda 2030, the Sustainable Development Goals.”/