The top leader of the United Nations urged politicians to make unpopular decisions that may benefit their people in the long run after making a “special address” at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland on Wednesday.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres criticized politicians around the world for caring more about “polls, future elections, [and] political power struggles” than “effectively solving problems.” He called for them to ignore polls reflecting their people’s will and instead do what they think is best for the long-term future.
“Politicians need to understand — and sometimes we are faced with these kinds of challenges — it is better to take today decisions that will eventually be not popular, but that will be essential to be able to shape the public opinion itself,” Guterres said.
He made the remark about 20 minutes and 15 seconds into the presentation, which is viewable on the WEF website. It was preceded by a 15 minute “special address” where he said the battle against climate change “is being lost” and the people of the world must “end our self-defeating war on nature.”
He was responding to a question from WEF President Børge Brende, who asked why leaders don’t follow the “common sense” that dictates they must work now to stem off a future “climate disaster.”
Guterres, a former prime minister of Portugal, went on to speak from his own experience.
“When I was following the polls, I would have problems in the short term,” he said. “When I was able to show leadership and … take the decisions that were necessary to ensure the future of my country at the time, that in the end would pay.
“My appeal to decision makers in the public and private sector is: Don’t look about what’s going to happen to you tomorrow. Look into what’s going to happen to all of us in the future.”
More than 2,700 world leaders, including 11 members of Congress, are spending this week at the Davos meeting, where they’re discussing ways to manage the global system. This year’s event involves speeches and panel discussions on issues like recession fears, the Ukraine war and climate change.