KERSTI KALJULAID, President of Estonia, underscored that the climate emergency was at least as dangerous to humanity as the pandemic, which had brought an international concerted effort to develop vaccines. With that in mind, she drew attention to the World Clean-Up Day initiative launched by Estonia citizens in 2008. In the last three years, more than 50 million people around the world joined this initiative, making it “one of the biggest civic movements of our time, uniting about 160 countries across the world”, she said.
Recalling her recent visit to Afghanistan, she expressed concern for the future of that country’s people. Almost half of its population, more than 18 million, including women and children, was in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. As the United Nations Global Advocate for Every Woman, Every Child, she said that it was disheartening that the progress made during the past two decades had been reverted so quickly.
Turning to the impact of COVID-19, she pointed out that the opportunities for women and children globally had been hit hardest by the pandemic, including women’s participation in the workforce, inaccessible health care and the number of children deprived of school meals. Even prior to the pandemic, “we were not on track to reach our SDG goal of zero hunger by 2030”, she noted. To that end, Estonia was contributing at least 900,000 doses of vaccines — for every adult in her country who received a vaccine, a vaccine would be donated to someone else in the world.
Estonia was also launching the Data for the Environment Alliance during the fifth United Nations Environment Assembly in February 2022, she announced. The Alliance would support the creation of global environmental data strategy for 2025 that had been agreed upon by States in 2019. Describing digital transformation as an equalizer that made countries more efficient, she said that Estonia and Singapore co-sponsored the Global Declaration on the Digital Response to COVID-19 last year. In addition, as an elected member of the Security Council, Estonia hosted the very first official discussion on cybersecurity in the Council earlier this year.
Legal frameworks were of utmost importance, she stressed, but also needed were empathy, the rule of law and good governance, among others. It was crucial to not forget the events in Belarus, the occupied Crimean Peninsula and the situation in eastern Ukraine. Noting that Estonia would be hosting the next Global Conference for Media Freedom in order to boost the synergies of Internet and media freedom, she also added that her country would continue to support the rights of women and girls, particularly on fighting sexual and gender-based violence and the protection of children in armed conflicts.
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