CARLOS ALVARADO QUESADA, President of Costa Rica, said the world can only be as strong and prosperous as the most vulnerable — a concept that is not a romantic vision of multilateralism. Leaving no one behind is a moral guide and call to action, as everything is an interconnected and interdependent macrosystem. However, he noted only 2 in 10 people in poor and middle-income countries have received a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while that number is 8 in 10 in high-or upper-middle-States, “an abysmal and tragic inequality”. He added that without maximum global vaccination, even those who have accumulated more vaccines are vulnerable to virus mutations or the economic ravages of the pandemic.
Highlighting recent weeks of extreme natural hazards worldwide, including floods, hurricanes and forest fires, driving loss of crops and migrations, he said in the worst case scenario, by the end of century, planet temperature will increase by 4.4°C. Ironically, those States generating the lowest emissions are the most affected, forced to take on more debt for adaptation and reconstruction. Noting that global military spending continued to rise in 2020 despite the raging pandemic and unprecedented climate crisis, he asked whether the international community is doing enough for future generations.
Given the reality of an interconnected planet, “the best way to be selfish is to be supportive and generous,” he stated. He noted the pandemic presents an opportunity to build a better world. Citing the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool as an initiative to democratize availability of medicines, he noted the pandemic has put pressure on developing economies at every level. In that light, the $650 billion fund of special drawing rights is a step, but not enough, as over 40 per cent is allocated to rich countries with only 1 per cent for developing States. Costa Rica has proposed the Fund to Alleviate the COVID-19 Economy, nearly half a trillion dollars funded by 0.7 per cent of the GDP of the largest economies, intermediated by multilateral development banks, as concessional long-term 40-year fixed-rate loans to developing States.
Citing the United Nations conventions on climate change, biodiversity and desertification, he noted Costa Rica aims to decarbonize its economy by 2050. However, only 15 per cent of the planet’s resources and 7 per cent of its oceans are protected. An initiative led by Costa Rica, France and the United Kingdom aims by 2030 to protect 30 per cent of the planet’s marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Citing the 31 August declaration as International Day for People of African Descent, he called for support of Haiti, the first country in the Americas to end slavery, and the end of international measures affecting Cuba. He also expressed support for the fundamental rights of the Cuban people at home and concern about the human rights situation in Nicaragua.