UN chief cautions against populism amid `trust deficit…

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UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres has painted a grim picture of the state of the world as leaders opened their annual meeting, spotlighting a breakdown of trust around the globe.

In his opening remarks, Mr Guterres said the world is “suffering from a bad case of Trust Deficit Disorder”, and pointed to rising polarisation and populism within nations, ebbing co-operation and “fragile” trust in international institutions.

“Democratic principles are under siege,” he added.

The UN chief also sounded the alarm on climate change, saying the world has reached “a pivotal moment” in global warming and risks runaway climate change if leaders do not act in the next two years.

He said world leaders are not doing enough to combat what he called “a direct existential threat” that is moving faster than people are working to combat it, and called for the international Paris climate change agreement to be implemented.

US President Donald Trump has announced he is withdrawing his country from the pact, while Mr Guterres is planning a climate summit next year.

This year, 133 world leaders have signed up to attend the General Assembly session which ends on October 1, a significant increase from the 114 leaders last year.

Virtually all 193 UN member nations will be represented.

Populist leaders attending this year’s meeting including Mr Trump, Polish President Andrzej Duda and Italy’s premier Giuseppe Conte, along with the foreign ministers of Hungary and Austria.

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