Collective action needed to fix ‘systemic problems’ – President Ali tells Summit of the Americas

His Excellency, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali has said countries within the Americas, particularly Small Developing States (SIDs) in the Caribbean, face the brunt of the global crisis caused by COVID-19 and therefore, collective actions are needed to fix the ‘systemic issues’ affecting the region.

President Ali was at the time addressing the Ninth Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, California, on Friday.

His Excellency, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali.

The President said countries must put aside all political and ideological dialogues and have more fact-based conversations aimed at uplifting the people of the Americas.

“Let us take collective responsibility at this conference to fix the problem, and fix the system in the interests of the people of this hemisphere.”

He added, “Let us forge ahead to unite the Americas, strengthen our relationship forged in respect and good governance so that when we reach again, we do so as a singular whole and create a winning formula and culture for all.”

Presenting statistics showing the extent of the effects of the global crisis on the Americas, President Ali highlighted challenges within the education system, as remote learning and internet access were particularly challenging for the most disadvantaged children.

He also mentioned the issues of food and water shortages, hunger, inadequate access to housing, climate change- drought and floods, among other issues with which the region faces.

He said these challenges are experienced by a region that has the potential to be fully energy secured, have an abundance of natural resources, lands, access to water, resources to ensure food security, enough rain forests and technology to make a meaningful contribution to climate change, and access to finances that boost inequality and support sustainable development of the people.

“The question is why have we not achieved this? Why have we not achieved this? It points to systemic issues,” the President said, while reiterating the need for meaningful actions to confront issues affecting the economies of the Americas.

He pointed out that the conference must also define a pathway for integration of infrastructure, people and economy, noting the importance of conversations in this regard.

“The people of the hemisphere expect this conference, the point of solutions and action-oriented agenda at addressing all these issues that will give them a better future, that will give them an equitable stake in sustainable social, political and economic environment,” he said.

Guyana was also faced it its fair share of challenges, in fact, a recent flood wiped out 59 percent of the country’s GDP, President Ali told the summit. Notwithstanding this, he said Guyana is among the best in managing its forest with its deforestation rate standing at 0.05 percent.

“While all of this is occurring, we are standing forests the size of England, storing 19.5 gigatons of carbon. We have 11 billion barrels of proven oil reserves as I speak, and an assessment of gas reserves is on the way,’ he said.

However, the Guyanese Head of State said that the country’s economy is projected to double in size in two years, and to be the fastest growing economy, despite this Guyana understands that the prosperity its seeks to achieve for its people, cannot be achieved alone.

“We belong to the family of humanity, and we are ready to make our contribution to that family of humanity. We cannot be reckless, and we will not be irresponsible in managing these resources in the interests of the world and in the interests of this region,” he emphasised.

The president also spoke of the potential partnerships with Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and the possibilities for investments and exploration of gas with Barbados.

The summit is being held under the theme, ‘Building a Sustainable, Resilient, and Equitable Future.

Dr. Ali said that the important pillars must be examined in order to achieve these noble objectives- issues of democracy, equity, good governance, fairness, justice, race relations, security, and partnership.

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