UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, on Monday encouraged New Zealand’s younger generation to take bigger responsibility of global issues on climate change and technology.
Addressing the students at the Auckland University of Technology, the UN chief praised the interest the New Zealand’s government and its young people have shown in tackling climate change.
“We need the leadership of the youth, because those who have to take responsibility in the world, especially governments, are not showing enough political will,” he said.
“So we need your leadership, your support, your movement and your capacity to mobilise your society to make sure we are able to reverse this trend.
“Governments are still afraid to move forward. They hear the costs of climate action, forgetting that the costs of inaction are much bigger,” Guterres said.
He stressed it was critical that climate change is defeated. “The youth is my hope for this to be possible.”
Guterres also expressed his concern about the speed at which the internet and other technologies are advancing, which is too fast for the world’s lawmakers to keep up with.
“The internet is used by criminal organisations, by terrorist organisations. Hate speech moves like wildfire through these instruments and we need to be able to stop this,” he said.
The UN secretary-general also spoke about artificial intelligence and the risks it poses, as well as the opportunities it could bring.
This included the advent of autonomous weapons, which he believed should be banned.
“Can you imagine what it would mean for terrorists to hack autonomous weapons that are able to select their targets and to kill without human intervention?”
He said his hopes rested on young people.
“This is the moment when you need to establish the rules, the norms, and the principles to allow for this fantastic technological revolution to be a force for good, not to be a danger for humankind.”
Guterres’ speech is part of his three-day trip to New Zealand, which highlighted a focus on climate change.
And also the UN chief’s tribute to the courage and resilience New Zealand’s Muslim community has shown in the wake of the mosque shootings on March 15.