President Ali says developing countries need greater access to climate financing
As current Chair of the G77 + China bloc, Guyana is calling for an integrated response to the threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate change crisis, and the adverse effects of these on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Guyana on Thursday virtually hosted a Group of 77+ China ministerial and technical meeting under the theme ‘Maintaining a Low Carbon Development Path towards the 2030 Agenda in the Era of COVID-19’.
Addressing the summit, President Irfaan Ali pointed out that the theme warrants an examination of the relationship between the pandemic, climate change, and sustainable development.
He noted that COVID-19 has diverted attention and resources from climate action and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). This is even as climate change is undermining the SDGs.
The President said it is necessary for responses to the pandemic and the climate crisis to be placed at the centre of advancement of the Development Goals. To this end, the Head of State called on the international community to ensure greater financing is provided to meet the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, particularly in the post-COVID-19 era.
“Adaptation to climate change is of vital importance, and (is) a key component for the implementation of the Paris Agreement for developing countries within G-77 and China. In this light, adequate capacity-building, financial support, and technology transfer are critical. As Chairman of the Group of 77 and China, I call for greater access to climate financing for developing countries,” he posited.
According to the President, mainly due to high indebtedness, many developing countries are constrained in their efforts to generate sufficient resources towards achieving the ‘2030 Agenda’. As such, he further made a “…call on the international financial community to explore and implement ways (wherein) debt can be reduced so as to allow developing countries the fiscal space to achieve the SDGs.”
The Guyanese Leader further stated that the interrelation of current pandemic and Sustainable Development Goals is a source of concern for all, since the pandemic is depleting the financial and human capital assets of countries.
“Our strategies to combat the impact of COVID-19 pandemic have forced countries to increase their internal and external debts. This is likely to lead to negative growth and exacerbate poverty. When these happen, destruction of our fragile natural resources will be the first casualty. We should not allow our gains in sustainable development to be eroded by the pandemic. Poverty alleviation programmes should be actively funded so as to protect the natural environment,” he asserted.
On this note, President Ali outlined that Guyana has proudly accepted its share of responsibility for climate action, fighting the pandemic, and advancing along the path to sustainable development. He stated that Guyana’s forest resource is one of the principal natural assets which can be utilised to generate the revenue needed for the growth and development of the country.
“We can maintain our forests to help in the global fight against climate change if we receive adequate financial resources, especially during this era of COVID-19,” he noted.
President Ali further pointed out that Guyana, as a net carbon sink, is “particularly vulnerable” to climate change because of its geography and historical settlement patterns. He noted that having already being affected by the impact of climate change in Guyana, his Government intends to be more proactive in its efforts to combat the effects of climate change, while at the same time advancing its development aspirations.
To this end, he highlighted the role of Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), which is aimed at transforming Guyana’s economy to better deliver greater socio-economic benefits to its people, by following a low carbon development path while at the same time mainstreaming climate resilience.
The President noted that in partnership with the Kingdom of Norway, Guyana was able to develop and implement one of the first national scale payment for forest climate services through avoided deforestation and sustainable management of its forest resources. He reaffirmed that the country is still committed to advancing the LCDS and to collaborate with international partners to expand the work on REDD+ and payment for forest climate and ecosystem services.
Ali posited that the COVID-19 pandemic threatens the fight against climate change by diverting attention from the gravity of the environmental dangers the world faces while threatening to reverse the gains made in the quest towards the 2030 SDGs.
“For many of the United Nations member states, the pandemic has adversely affected the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and threatens the successes gained in SDG milestones. Resources allocated for climate action and advancing progress for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals have had to be redirected to combat the pandemic. It is for this reason that Guyana supports the call for placing the SDGs at the centre of the pandemic recovery efforts,” he stated.
Moreover, the President related that climate change is another potent threat to sustainable development.
He noted that devastating effects of climate change, such as extreme weather events and other natural disasters, have adversely impacted the environment, economies and societies, as well as reversing development gains.
“Climate change therefore must be placed properly in the context of the discourse on sustainable development. In this regard, as G77 countries, we must consider the impact of climate change on issues such as poverty eradication and economic and social development [The Rio Principle] now enshrined in international environmental law, (and) recognise that all countries have an obligation to address problems concerning the environment.
“But it also acknowledges that not all are blessed with the same capabilities,” he stressed.
Against this backdrop, President Ali emphasised the need for collective action to protect the planet and humanity. He urged the G77 bloc to reflect on ways to make the member countries stronger and more responsive to combating the challenges posed by climate change in the current era of COVID-19.