More finances needed to eradicate poverty, hunger – President Ali tells UN Summit

President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali has emphasised that ensuring universal freedom from poverty and hunger requires the recognition and protection of the right to development.

President Ali made the statement on Monday while addressing the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Sustainable Development Summit, at United Nations headquarters in New York, USA. 

78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Sustainable Development Summit

The summit, where global leaders have convened, marks the halfway point in the 2030 agenda for sustainable development and will assess the SDG progress, offer policy direction, spur action for faster implementation, and address emerging challenges since 2015.

“Guyana believes that significant progress can only be made in achieving the SDG [Sustainable Development Goals] if national efforts are matched by commitments being fulfilled, and if an international environment is created that fosters progress for all countries,” President Ali stated.

According to a recent IDB report, the gap in financing to achieve four critical SDGs for Latin America and the Caribbean requires $2.2 billion.

This includes access to water and sanitation, energy, building infrastructure that promotes sustainable industrialisation and innovation, and making our cities sustainable.

Moreover, the debt-to-GDP ratio in the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region in 2022, was 117 per cent and inflation stood at 9.2 per cent.

President Ali said Guyana’s growing economy has enabled the country to prioritise the SDGs, particularly in the areas of healthcare, education, and security.

Over the past three years, per capita investments in these areas have increased significantly. Health has moved up by 62 per cent, education by 64 per cent, and security by 152 per cent, the Guyanese leader reported.

He said this national commitment alone will not be enough to achieve the SDGs, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable states.

The head of state pointed out that a major part of the problem is the lack of progress with SDG- 17, which speaks to strengthening the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development, and the failure of the international community to deliver on its commitments.

Furthermore, developing countries often face high food inflation, typically around three per cent higher than the global average.

And to exacerbate this issue, these countries also contend with an average interest rate on external borrowing that is three times higher than that of developed nations.

“International financial commitments, be it 0.7 per cent commitment of the Gross National Income on ODA [Official Development Assistance], a commitment made 50 years ago or the $100 billion annual commitment under the Paris Agreement to development to developing countries among others have not been met,” President Ali underscored.

He further stated that the international financial architecture is ‘out of sync’ with the needs of developing countries, and thus, it requires reform. 

President Ali was accompanied by Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Hugh Todd; Foreign Secretary, Robert Persaud; Permanent Secretary at Foreign Affairs Ministry, Elizabeth Harper; Guyana’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, and Director of Projects at the Office of the President, Marcia Nadir-Sharma.