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Guyana’s president ready to cooperate in climate change efforts


Guyana’s president ready to cooperate in climate change efforts
Guyana President, Irfaan Ali. (FP)

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Georgetown – Guyana Friday warned that unless the targets that were set at the Paris Agreement in 2015 are realised, the world can expect to experience future water disasters and further setbacks to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

President Irfaan Ali, in a virtual address at the plenary session of the 5th United Nations (UN) Special Thematic Session on Water and Disaster, also reaffirmed his country’s commitment to working with the UN and the international community to press for coordinated global attention and action to combat climate change.

It is being held under the theme “Building Back Better towards More Resilient and Sustainable Post-COVID-19 World” with Hungary, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Republic of Korea, Tajikistan, High-Level Experts and Leaders Panel on Water and Disasters (HELP) and National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) of Japan as co-hosts.

“I commend the United Nations for organising this vital Session, which I believe has an obligation to move the global community towards greater action in addressing climate change as a trigger for water-related disasters . . . .

“Guyana, however, remains engaged in working along with the United Nations and the rest of the international community to press for concerted global attention and action to arrest climate change,” Ali said, making reference to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and climate change, which he described as the being amongst the foremost extant threats to the SDGs.

Ali said that the pandemic, which has been blamed for millions of deaths and infections worldwide, since it first surfaced in December 2019, has served to magnify the already existing problems within society and in relations between states.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has added to challenges posed to the SDGs. In many small states, the pandemic has reduced the fiscal space needed to propel the SDGs.

“Not only have these states had to shoulder the burdens of unanticipated and excessive health care costs, but the COVID-19 pandemic has also led to economic contraction and massive job losses. And as the recent experience of my country illustrates, water disasters compound the difficulties posed by states which are vulnerable to climate disasters.”

Ali recalled his address to a regional consultation organised by the Global Water Partnership in February this year, when he said that the pandemic “should not divert attention from or diminish the gravity of the threats” posed by other disasters such as hydro-hazards.

“Addressing the climate crisis is therefore integral to the post-COVID-19 recovery. It would amount to a misadventure on the part of the international community if, in its efforts to rebuild stronger and better after the pandemic, it neglects the potent threats posed by water disasters or ignores the indisputable link between these hazards.

“Indeed, it is vital that the international community recognises the impact of the pandemic on developing countries and how these impacts can retard progress towards the SDGs,’ Ali said. He added that Guyana has committed itself, irreversibly, to a low carbon path to development, in which mainstreaming the SDGs in national development while combatting climate change are fully compatible.

The template he pointed out, therefore exists for a POST COVID-19 recovery that promotes climate resilience and commits to the SDGs. (CMC)