ALEXANDER DE CROO, Prime Minister of Belgium, said that only through multilateralism will the world provide answers to today’s complex crises. Three vulnerabilities need priority focus, he said, first drawing attention to combating the pandemic. Belgium is a leading vaccine exporter, with 530 million doses having already been exported. Vaccine solidarity is essential, he said, regretting to note that less than 4 per cent of Africans are vaccinated. COVAX is the best mechanism to strengthen vaccination coverage. But, more must be done, including boosting local vaccine production through technology transfer and sharing knowledge, which is one of Team Europe’s objectives. The world must also prepare for the next pandemic. A new treaty would improve access to vaccines and a transformed WHO would create an organization that is fit for purpose. As the pandemic affects development efforts, countries must work together, he said, noting that a European initiative is focusing on helping the most vulnerable countries.
The climate crisis also needs attention, he continued, pointing to the harmful impact seen across the world, including extreme weather conditions. After the summer brought the worst flooding in history, Belgium will rebuild. However, the world cannot wait for the next flood. As such, COP26 will be among the most important meetings in years. Encouraging other countries to follow Europe’s ambitions, he said initiatives are centred around green growth. For its part, Belgium will increase investments in renewables alongside taking other key steps. “We need to do whatever it takes,” he said, adding that building resilience of the most fragile nations is imperative, including by fulfilling promises of providing $100 billion in climate funding.
The third vulnerability is security, he said, recalling terrorist attacks on Belgium, United States and other countries over the past two decades. Terrorists continue to claim innocent lives, he said, noting that Belgium actively participates in counter-terrorism efforts, including through UNDP. Security is not sufficient to ensure stability, as the failure to prevent conflict often comes after failing to protect human dignity. Belgium will continue to do its part, including by helping the people of Afghanistan. Humanitarian assistance is needed to save lives, but tents and food will not be enough for the Afghan people to prevent the country from imploding. A country plunged into extreme poverty is vulnerable to fall into following extreme ideologies. Peace, security and development are impossible without a profound respect for human rights, he said, adding that women and girls often suffer the most. Afghan women and girls are already bearing the brunt and have been teargassed, beaten and incarcerated. The fight against racism is also of paramount importance, he said, reaffirming Belgium’s belief that human rights are essential for all. “These global vulnerabilities threaten the very fabric of our societies, our ways of life,” he said. “They can only be addressed by a collective answer, based on a dynamic multilateralism.”
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