–President Ali tells Latin America, Caribbean leaders
-says Guyana is prepared to lead in areas of climate change & food security
IN a bid to be better prepared for any future health crisis, it is important that countries within Latin America and the Caribbean combine their scientific resources – intellectual and material, to reduce dependence on the developed world.
These were the sentiments shared by President Dr. Irfaan Ali as he addressed the Sixth Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), hosted in Mexico on Saturday.
“This pandemic has taught us how insulated the world can become,” Dr. Ali said, as he pointed to issues relating to the fact that the regions must never again fall victim to vaccine nationalism, which occurs when countries and pharmaceutical manufacturers partner to prioritise vaccines for its own domestic markets.
The president, according to a press release from the Office of the President, said that a unified approach among countries within Latin America and the Caribbean should also see the creation of a common strategy to not only improve access to vaccinations and reduce vaccine hesitancy, but to also exit the coronavirus pandemic and bolster economic recovery, altogether.
Dr. Ali also pointed to the lingering, and, in some instances, the lasting socio-economic impact that the pandemic has had on countries within Latin America and the Caribbean. He reminded that those effects were sufficiently outlined by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), which warned that the health crisis had worsened the structural problems of low investment, unemployment, inequality and poverty— all issues that must be addressed by the Summit.
He also emphasised the need for countries within the two regions to invest in capacity building in pursuit of self-sustenance. “We must lead efforts for a fairer global system not only in resource allocations but in regulation and approval. We must think about this carefully,” Dr. Ali was quoted as saying in the release.
Going forward, President Ali expressed Guyana’s commitment to providing strong leadership on critical matters relating to climate change and food security.
As it is, Guyana is the leading agricultural nation within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and the country’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) has been globally hailed as ground-breaking in tackling issues of climate change.
The Guyanese leader reminded the Heads of Governments representing 33 territories that the two regions will be given an opportunity to speak with a collective voice and to emphasise the urgency of increased and readily available financing for mitigation, adaptation and resilient infrastructure at the 26th Session of the Conference of Parties (COP26) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
At COP26, a systemic approach in dealing with issues of the environment and climate change should be agreed on. Dr. Ali even went further to reference and renew his advocacy for the establishment of a climate vulnerability fund, as well as the fulfilment of pledges made by the developed world.
The voluntary fund is intended to facilitate regional disaster response since some priority issues for Caribbean Small Island Development States are centred around climate change and disaster risk management, as well as access to concessional financing, high levels of indebtedness, natural disaster funds and graduation and transition, among others.
With the combined effect of the pandemic and climate change severely hampering the developing world’s progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) by 2030, President Ali urged that the regions “must therefore champion the call to address this through debt rescheduling and access to soft financing.”
The Head of State emphasised that food security was also vital to post-pandemic recovery. As a result, he said that Guyana strongly supports regional cooperation in ensuring a more food secure Latin America and the Caribbean. To this end, Dr. Ali expressed hope that the recommendations presented by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and in the CELAC Food Security, Nutrition and Hunger Eradication Plan of 2025 can be translated into necessary actions that will advance “this crucial agenda”.
PEACE AND SECURITY
Added to that, President Ali told the Summit that peace and security in Latin America and the Caribbean must be founded on political systems in which democracy, the rule of law and human rights are upheld, and in which the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States and the sanctity of treaties are respected.
As it is, Latin America and the Caribbean are said to be among the most violent regions in the world; this situation, according a recent quarterly report, is exacerbated by corruption and poverty.
Dr. Ali told the CELAC forum that focus should be on strengthening efforts in development capacity, improving governance, reducing poverty and removing barriers for trade and economic integration.
Guyana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hugh Todd and the Director of Projects in the Office of the President, Mrs Marcia Nadir-Sharma, are also in Mexico attending the summit.