President Ali urges Africa, CARICOM to hold united front on economic recovery, climate mitigation

His Excellency Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali has called on the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Africa to hold a united front on measures to be taken for economic recovery, climate mitigation and adaptation, and food security.

The President made the call during his remarks to the first Africa-CARICOM virtual summit on Tuesday.

“Africa and the Caribbean are no stranger to each other… The bonds that exist between us are based on blood, history and culture. These ties are strong and enduring. Our regions represent creative and dynamic forces within the international community. As such, there is no reason why we should not initiate greater socio-economic collaborations.”

His Excellency, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana

The President said the onus is on the regions to forge a path based on shared interests and common objectives. He said it is especially critical for them to craft a common message, as the world prepares for the United Nations General Assembly 2021 next week, and the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2021 in November.

Dr. Ali said the achievements of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is severely threatened, and Africa and CARICOM must point this out to the global community.

Post-COVID-19 recovery

President Ali said the pandemic has renewed the harsh reality of the differentiating treatment between the developed and developing world.

“The pandemic has reawakened our vulnerability to food supply, the fragility of our markets, and sensitivity to price changes. It is therefore essential that issues surrounding food security, supply and availability, form an important part of our actionable agenda.”

He said the two regions suffered immensely from the fallout in the rising cost of commodities and transportation services during the pandemic.

“We must have a forceful message on issues relating to rescheduling of loans, debt financing, access to capital in our rebuilding efforts and an evaluation of the global vaccination system along with its failure to respond to the most vulnerable in the world.”

First Africa-CARICOM virtual summit

If these matters are not properly addressed, President Ali fears that developing economies will find it even more difficult to cope and rebuild after the pandemic.

Climate change mitigation and adaptation

The President said the developing world’s experience with the pandemic emphasises that it is the developing world that suffers most in such circumstances. He held the same view on matters related to climate change.

“We have not been historically responsible but we suffer the greatest and are least equipped to respond. Our countries are bearing the brunt of increasing and more intense climate related events. We must therefore, collectively advocate for greater financial flows to help us adapt to the impact of the climate emergency, including through the establishment of a global vulnerability fund.”

The President said the largest polluters have already diversified their economies by transferring natural resources into commercial activities, and have a greater responsibility when it comes to climate change. This, he contrasted with countries like Guyana, which removes more carbon dioxide than it emits. In this regard, the President said Guyana should benefit economically from the service its forests provide to the global ecosystem. He hopes that discussions on this matter will advance at COP26 in November.

The Head of State said Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) provides a development model to the world, showing how low carbon, lower deforestation, and climate resilient development can be possible and beneficial for forested countries.

He said too that Africa and CARICOM must emphasise a compensation system for the blue economy, and the safeguarding of biodiversity. The summit was attended by Prime Ministers and Presidents of several Caribbean and African nations, as well as representatives of the CARICOM Secretariat, the African Union, and other organisations.