UN Secretary-General pushes for socioeconomic relief package for Caribbean countries

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Please see below excerpts from the speech of the United Nations Secretary General António Guterres at the 41st Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of The Caribbean Community (CARICOM):

As we invest in the recovery, we need to build greener, bluer, diversified, resilient and inclusive economies.

And allow me to briefly touch on a few key issues on just how to do that.

First, of course, we must defeat the pandemic itself.

I continue to push for a massive expansion of access to tests and treatments and support 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.

Second, 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 per cent 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.

Without concerted international action, we risk the reversal of decades of development gains and backsliding on the Sustainable Development Goals — even as countries fight on the frontline of the climate crisis.

And once again, Caribbean leadership has helped elevate the challenge on the global stage.

I have been calling for concrete actions with respect to debt and liquidity.

As you have long advocated, the world must look beyond incomes and factor in the vulnerabilities of countries.

The private sector, including the credit rating agencies, also must be engaged in relief efforts.

I have been strongly encouraging providing resources at scale to developing economies, namely through the World Bank and other multilateral development banks.

This could be done either using existing facilities or innovative facilities of concessional financing that are so important for countries in greatest need and several of those facilities have been proposed and we need them to be recognized and put in place.

I have called 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, 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.

We fully support the Caribbean vision to become the first climate-resilient region in the world — and to implement the Caribbean Recovery to Resilience Facility.

Access to low cost and affordable public finance will be critical.

You face significant barriers — not least the fragmented and complex financial architecture to access climate finance.

Recovery from the COVID crisis, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and securing climate action are not separate efforts — they are a single agenda.

The UN system is your platform to continue your compelling push for a more just, balanced and equitable international system — and the full realization of the rights of the UN Charter.

The pandemic has upended our world, but that upheaval has created space for creative and constructive initiatives.

I look forward to our discussions on how to make the most of that vital space and I thank you. “

 

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