Financing a challenge for developing world to explore ideas – President Ali

President Irfaan Ali’s appearance during the Clinton Global Initiative

While there is no shortage of ideas from the developing world on how to achieve net zero, financing remains a challenge that must be tackled in a realistic and holistic way. This was according to President Dr Irfaan Ali while participating in a Clinton Global Initiative panel discussion on Tuesday.
During his appearance at the event, President Ali spoke of Guyana’s desire to create a regional energy hub to be a net exporter of energy, most of which will be sourced from renewable energy.
He noted that while the region has all these plans and more, the financing challenge makes it difficult for blocks of countries like Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) to reach their development targets, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“We have to first put things into context. And I don’t want to divorce Guyana from the rest of the region because this requires collective action. And I said the prosperity of Guyana must lead to the prosperity of the region. You have a situation in Latin America and the Caribbean. We need US$2.2 billion to achieve four important SDGs.”
“You have a debt to GDP ratio of 117 per cent. In Guyana’s case we’re 26.4 per cent. You have inflation that is double-digit. And you have to marry that, whilst at the same time finding resources to go with a renewable transition and moving towards net zero.”
According to the President, however, the situation currently exists where the conversation on net zero has suddenly changed into stopping petroleum production. He noted that the shifting of the goalpost has suddenly removed the balance from the conversation.
“The conversation on the transition to net zero is far different from the conversation on stopping petroleum. Secondly, we have a forest the size of England and Scotland combined, storing 19.5 gigatonnes of carbon. Worth billions of dollars in carbon. We have one of the only countries with an end-user agreement sale with Hess Corporation.”
“But guess what? That forest we kept alive with a deforestation rate of less than 0.036 per cent. That forest did not bring in any wealth, although it created tremendous value for the world. So how are we going to ensure that in the transition, there is just reward for those countries who are keeping the environment, keeping the forest, and ensuring those forests contribute to the climate equation.”
During his address at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development under the auspices of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Monday, President Ali had also highlighted the need for greater finances as he drew attention to the failure of the international community to deliver on these commitments.
A major part of the problem, according to the Guyanese leader, has been a lack of progress on Goal 17, which speaks to revitalising the global partnership for sustainable development. He identified that there has been a failure on the part of the international community to deliver on its commitments.
According to the recent Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) report, the gap in financing to achieve four critical SDGs for Latin America and the Caribbean including access to water and sanitation, energy, building infrastructure to promote sustainable industrialisation, innovation, and making cities sustainable requires US$2.2 billion.
Ali had also drawn attention to statistics that show developing countries are faced with higher food inflation – some five per cent greater than the rest of the world. To compound this, the average interest on external borrowing is three times higher than that of developed nations. (G-3)