President Irfaan Ali, has called for an integrated response to the threats of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been wreaking havoc across the globe.

The President made this appeal in his opening remarks this morning, at a virtual flagship event being hosted by the Government of Guyana, in its capacity as Chair of the Group of 77 and China.

President Ali said the pandemic has threatened the fight against climate change, as countries have been forced to shift their focus from environmental crises, which threaten lives and livelihoods.

“The immediate task of containing, mitigating and eventually eradicating the coronavirus must not force us to ignore the challenges of protecting the environment and the need for collective action,” President Ali told the summit.

COVID-19 has also affected gains made towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, he said.

Resources allocated for climate action have had to be redirected to fight the disease.

“The interrelation of current pandemic and Sustainable Development Goals is a source of concern for all since the pandemic is depleting our financial and human capital assets. 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,” President Ali stated.

The summit of more than 130 developing countries is seeking to raise awareness, build partnerships and share knowledge on climate actions amid the pandemic while soldiering on towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The President called on the international community to ensure greater financing is provided to meet the 2030 Agenda, particularly in the post-COVID-19 era.

“As Chairman of the Group of 77 and China, I call for greater access to climate financing for developing countries. Many developing countries, due to high indebtedness, are constrained in their efforts to generate sufficient resources towards achieving the 2030 Agenda,” President Ali said.

Presenting Guyana’s action plan, the President highlighted the country’s Low Carbon Development Strategy, which aims to transform the economy to deliver more significant socio-economic benefits to Guyanese.

Guyana has partnered with the Kingdom of Norway to develop and implement one of the first national-scale payments for forest climate services through avoided deforestation and sustainable management of forest resources.

“Guyana proudly accepts its share of responsibility for climate action, fighting the pandemic, and advancing along the path to sustainable development. In this regard, 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 our 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,” the President said.

At the same time, the President reiterated the need for collective action to reduce poverty and other inequalities, and to safeguard the environment.

The virtual conference will also reinforce the Group’s position on critical issues in climate change discussions, including climate finance and ecosystem-based approaches while contributing to maximising Sustainable Development Goals co-benefits.


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