Address of His Excellency Mohamed Irfaan Ali, President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana
His Excellency, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, President of the United Mexican States
Fellow Heads of State and other Heads of Delegation,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I thank His Excellency Andrés Manuel López Obrador for his leadership of the Community over the past year. Guyana recognises Mexico’s effective stewardship in advancing the CELAC agenda during its extended Pro Tempore Presidency.
I express my sincere appreciation to the Government of the United Mexican States for the warm welcome extended to me and my delegation, and for the splendid arrangements put in place to facilitate our participation at this Summit.
This sixth Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) takes place as we continue to wage battle against a resilient and stubborn virus.
The countries of our Community have been the victims of vaccine hesitancy. The struggle for equitable access to vaccines must continue on all fronts with the paramount aim of preserving life and the right to health above all. Guyana enjoins itself to the call for governments and multilateral organisations to accelerate research, development, production and global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments based on the principle of international solidarity.
Latin America and the Caribbean must never again become victims of vaccine nationalism. We must combine our scientific resources – intellectual and material – so as to reduce our dependence on the developed world in the event of future health crises, and to chart a common strategy to exit this pandemic and bolster economic recovery.
The socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic will have lasting and lingering impacts. While our Region is expected to experience overall economic growth this year, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean has warned that the health crisis has worsened the structural problems of low investment, unemployment, inequality and poverty.
This Sixth Summit of CELAC therefore must provide the impetus to address the persistent problems of poverty, inequality and low levels of investment. Our challenges, however, go beyond the structural; they also include existential threats such as climate change.
The 26th Session of the Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change affords us the opportunity to speak with a collective voice and to stress the urgency of increased and readily available financing for mitigation, adaptation and resilient infrastructure.
Priority issues for Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS) centre on, among other things, climate change and disaster risk management, access to concessional financing, high levels of indebtedness, natural disaster funds, and graduation and transition. Guyana supports the establishment of a voluntary fund to facilitate regional disaster response.
Food security is vital to the post-COVID-19 recovery. Guyana strongly supports regional cooperation in ensuring a more food secure Latin America and the Caribbean. In regard, I hope that the several recommendations contained in the report on Food Security under the COVID-19 pandemic, presented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and in the CELAC Food Security, Nutrition and Hunger Eradication Plan 2025 can be translated into actions necessary to advance this crucial agenda.
Peace and security in Latin America and the Caribbean must be founded on political systems in which democracy, the rule of law and human rights are upheld and in which the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States and the sanctity of treaties are respected.
As we move forward, we must build an integrated institutional mechanism to better respond and coordinate resources to combat future threats of pandemic. We must invest in the capacity within the region to self-sustain our efforts. So far, this pandemic has taught us how insulated the world can become. Secondly, we must lead efforts for a fairer global system not only in resource allocations but in regulation and approval. We must think about this carefully.
Thirdly, we must focus on strengthening our own efforts in developing capacity, improving governance, reducing poverty, achieving food security and removing barriers of access for trade and economic integration.
Fourthly, agree on a systemic approach in dealing with issues of the environment and climate change beginning at COP26. This approach must speak to issues of access to resources, to address adaption and mitigation, establishment of a climate vulnerability fund, and fulfillment of pledges made by the developed world.
Fifthly, the combined effect of the pandemic and climate change has severely hampered the developing world’s progress in achieving the SDG goals by 2030. We must therefore champion the call to address this through debt rescheduling and access to soft financing.
In closing Guyana commits to the provision of strong leadership especially on issues of climate change and food security. We will continue to pursue the development of our resources and people through an expanded version of the Low Carbon Development Strategy. We further commit to support every effort that seeks to promote peace, democracy, respect for the rule of law and deepening of regional integration. Our strength must be grounded in principles and value- not circumstances and events.
I thank you.