President calls for special disaster risk management fund for SIDS – at UN General Assembly
Georgetown, GINA, September 26, 2013
President Donald Ramotar has urged the international community to seriously consider meaningful assistance to Small Island Developing States (SIDS) by supporting the establishment of a special, easily accessible fund that will aid in resilience building, and disaster risk management.
In his address to the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly today in New York, the Guyanese Head of State spoke on behalf of poor and developing countries that are often powerless in the battle against climate change.
“Another serious challenge to sustainable development is the impact of climate change. This is even more so for the Small Island Developing States represented in this Assembly, some of whom face an imminent passage to oblivion. Climate change is not of our making, but sadly as Small Island Developing States and low lying states we remain the victims of its most adverse impacts,” President Ramotar said in his address.
The reluctance of major greenhouse gas emitters to take action amidst evidence of a 50 percent rise and warnings about the consequences of global temperature rise above 2°C above pre-industrial levels, President Ramotar is still taken aback by the level of apathy.
Having experienced the effects of climate change in a country that has developed a revolutionary plan, executed through the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), President Ramotar said, “This marked failure to take decisive action poses a threat to all humanity. It is tragic that while we all know the dangers that lurk due to global warming and climate change, we seem incapable of stopping ourselves. This is no doubt due to the unstoppable drive to accumulate for accumulation sake and sheer self-interest on the part of some countries,” President Ramotar said.
The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s recent invitation for world leaders to participate in a special summit on climate change, in the hope of reinvigorating talks on global warming was welcomed by President Ramotar who expressed hope that it ends with strong political consensus in addressing “this paramount challenge of our time.”
As he continued advocacy for the small and vulnerable countries, President Ramotar turned his attention to 2014 when the International Year of SIDS will be observed.
It comes at a time when reports about the Millennium Development Goals up to 2015 have thus far have been positive. Guyana for example reached the goal to curtail hunger and undernourishment, halving the proportion of hungry people and reaching the World Food Summit (WFS) goal of reducing by half the absolute number of undernourished.
But as the post – 2015 Development Agenda will soon be launched, President Ramotar urged the UN not to lose sight of the goal to eradicate poverty, and support the interest of smaller and poorer developing countries that are oftentimes at a disadvantage at the level of international economic discourse and action.
“Excellencies, the eradication of poverty and the promotion of sustainable development must become a key principle and objective of global economic governance, and a guide-post for the actions of international financial and trade institutions,” President Ramotar said.
But with external aid policies and the use of per capita income to determine a country’s level of development and grant financing, (a major concern for some countries), President Ramotar believes global challenges could only worsen.
“We are told that as middle income countries – measured by GDP per capita – we are no longer entitled to concessionary financing. This is a recipe for reversing the gains made over years of hard work and sacrifice. We call for a rethink of this position and urge that greater consideration be given to the special vulnerabilities of our region, where a country can see one hurricane wiping out its entire GDP,” President Ramotar said.
The Guyanese Leader also spoke of the blockade against Cuba, which he said has caused serious damage to that country’s economy and continues to be a major impediment to its development. “We join the call for a lifting of the blockade and the removal of the burden that it places on the Cuban people.”
Addressing the issue of peace and development, President Ramotar said that these are inseparable, and that peace will only be realised if international law and the rights of nations and their sovereignty are always respected and upheld. Speaking on the Middle east situation, he said, “What is badly needed is a political dialogue between the Syrian parties. The international community also has an important role to play. We welcome the agreement between Russia and the United States which will facilitate the destruction of chemical weapons held in Syria.
We call on all countries that possess such weapons to do the same. We hope too, that there would be a withdrawal of terrorist forces operating in Syria… In the same way, let me say that a blow was struck against democracy when a coup took place in Egypt. However, the major world powers, instead of condemning the use of such means to change governments, chose to remain silent. This gave tacit support to the coup which has led to the violation of human rights and may lead to more protests and possible violence,” he asserted.
He next touched on the issue of Palestine, noting that peace will not be realised “until we have a just solution to the Palestinian tragedy. The Palestinian people have the right to their own country. We support them in their quest for the right to live in peace and in an independent, viable Palestinian state,” he stated.
The beginning of President Ramotar’s speech was one of salutation for the current President of the UN General Assembly John William Ashe of Antigua and Barbuda who was described as a distinguished son of “our Caribbean Community” and who gained Guyana’s unwavering support towards the successful execution of such important duties.