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United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres.

UN intensifying support to C’bean

The United Nations (UN) System is intensifying support for the Caribbean and all Small Island Developing States.    Secretary-General António Guterres gave this assurance to regional leaders recognising that stresses on their economies are high and the need to protect and expand their development achievements for the Caribbean people is urgent.    

“We are putting our best capacities and resources to support your voice and participation in global governance processes, to provide sound policy advice and help broker the partnerships that will facilitate your continued progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals,” he told the 41st Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), held virtually on Thursday.

He said this includes expanding and reconfiguring as necessary UN’s physical presence and ensuring tailored support to every country in the Caribbean.   

“This was an important component of our reform of the UN development system. I know it is something you have long advocated and it represents a step change in support. This is now possible with Member States’ approval of the reform measures to strengthen our support to Small Island Developing States and the Multi-Country Offices that support them.”   

 

Leadership during pandemic

The UN Secretary-General saluted the Caribbean leaders for exceptional leadership during this challenging time.

He observed that CARICOM countries have continued to report generally low levels of COVID-19 cases and some have been able to avoid any virus-related deaths.    

However, as countries invest in the recovery, he stressed the need to build greener, bluer, diversified, resilient and inclusive economies.   

Guterres therefore recommended that to do so, firstly the pandemic must be defeated. He said that he continues to push for a massive expansion of access to tests and treatments and supports a people’s vaccine as a global public good – available and affordable for everyone, everywhere as soon as possible.   

“Investing in the Access to COVID-19 Tools, or ACT – Accelerator is critical, including its COVAX Facility, which focuses on the development of a safe vaccine as quickly as possible.”

He also identified that for some developing economies, including the Caribbean, the socioeconomic impacts have been worse than the virus itself.

“To support your recovery efforts, I have been pushing for a relief package amounting to at least 10 percent of the global economy… Now, developed countries have announced their own relief packages, because they can. Yet of the $12 trillion so far allocated for immediate response measures, a tiny fraction has reached the developing world.”

The UN Chief further informed the Heads of Government of his call for the exploration of creative approaches such as debt swaps and to cancel or restructure debt to unlock resources for the Sustainable Development Goals and climate action.

In all these efforts and more, he guaranteed that the UN family will continue to support Governments’ response through promising partnerships, as guided by the Multisectoral Response Plan of the Eastern Caribbean for socio-economic recovery.   

“In this respect, we are working with the Caribbean Development Bank to craft a multidimensional vulnerability index that will help CARICOM countries make a more evidence-informed case to International Financial Institutions… A government-brokered regional compact with the IFIs and the UN is critical for a sustainable recovery – one that opens channels for financing renewable energy, sustainable transport, digital infrastructure and productive services.”

Guterres added that the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) quadrennial conference in Barbados on April 15, 2021, will provide another important platform to discuss a more open, and equitable global trading system, that takes account the region’s specific vulnerabilities and enables effective integration of SIDS into the global economy. (TL)

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