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President Irfaan Ali, at the 75th United Nations (UN) General Assembly debate on Wednesday, spotlighted the global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and limited access to finances on developing countries within the UN.
He told the delegation of over 100 world leaders that more must be done to address these issues even as the UN adapts overtime to meet the global challenges. Expounding on the COVID-19 threat, he said that one lesson the entire world has learned is that countries need each other to survive, and leaving just one country behind can prove detrimental to the overall goal of global development.
He urged the world leaders, as they work to mitigate the effects of the pandemic in their own countries, to understand that developing countries are operating at a disadvantage and require greater assistance and attention.
President Ali said: “The pandemic has launched an attack on the health and well-being of our people while the economy has become a casualty of this assault. The pandemic is reversing our gains on health, poverty, and education. More than ever, the resolve of the United Nations is being tested and it is evident that no single country can overcome the debilitating effects alone. This reality must inform the trajectory of the United Nations so that it can support the efforts of developing countries to rebuild and to become more resilient.”
Furthermore, he stated that while Guyana applauds the UN for its effort to reform its systems, there must be a greater focus on reforms that are tailored to allow the UN to respond adequately to existing gaps such as limited access to finances to developing countries.
“Access to such financing is vital for the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals. The United Nation must continue to champion the need for greater access to development financing for developing states. UN has a special duty to ensure that Members’ obligation on international agreements are fulfilled and that setbacks in meeting commitments are reversed,” he said.
He said that Guyana, having assumed the Chairmanship for the Group of 77 (G77) and China in January, is testimony to the fact that a State’s capacity for leadership is not constrained by its size.
President Ali also spoke to the detrimental effects of climate change seen worldwide and even in Guyana, often affected by the overtopping of the Atlantic Ocean due to its positioning bellow sea levels. He called for more financing to be injected into the area.
“Every year is another record-breaking year for extreme weather conditions and climate events. As a low-lying coastal State, Guyana is acutely aware of the high toll of these extreme weather conditions. But, equally costly, is climate resilience. Developing countries are thus set between a rock and a hard place. The only way to ease this burden is through consorted and balanced climate action,” he said.
He urged the Member States of the UN to continue their efforts towards Agenda 2030 and to realize the benefit of multilateralism in tackling the unprecedented global challenges.
“The world has changed remarkably in the ensuing 75 years but the United Nations has also adapted to and has been an agent of change,” he said.
“Global partnerships for development have never been more urgent in order to mobilize the means to implement the Agenda…now more than ever we need a resurgence of political will and commitment to protect the multilateral architecture and institutions.”