JACINDA ARDERN, Prime Minister of New Zealand, describing her country as “remote, but connected”, said the pandemic has shown how decisions half a world away can be as significant as those taken by neighbours close by. COVID-19 is a global problem that requires a global solution, including equitable access to vaccines. New Zealand is working with Australia and others to support full vaccine coverage for Pacific island States. It is also working at the World Trade Organization (WTO) for a waiver of intellectual property rights for vaccines. “The pandemic has been the ultimate disrupter,” but within that disruption, lies an opportunity to be in a better position to tackle common challenges, she said.
“The climate crisis cannot be beaten through incrementalism,” she said, emphasizing that any response that fails to limit global warming to 1.5°C is unacceptable. Summarizing her country’s efforts, including the planting of 1 billion trees by 2028, she said that collective global action must include an end to fossil fuel subsidies and seeking ways to grow more food without creating more emissions.
Underscoring the grave consequences of rising sea levels on small island developing States, she said that the international community must ensure the maintenance of their maritime zones and their rights under the Convention on the Law of the Sea. Nor can the 2030 Agenda be achieved without reversing biodiversity loss by 2030, she said, calling for the next Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity to adopt an ambitious and transformational global biodiversity framework. New Zealand also looks forward to concluding negotiations on a United Nations treaty on the conservation and sustainable use of high seas biodiversity, she added.
Trade must be more open and inclusive, she said, noting how the pandemic illustrated the importance of open trade for lifting people out of hunger and poverty. “We must commit to ensuring the flow of essential goods and services and reject any temptation to turn inwards and focus on protectionism,” she said. Ensuring no impunity for the use of illegal weapons, or the illegal use of legal weapons, is a shared responsibility that must run alongside efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons. She went on to say that New Zealand will not only support the recommendations of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response but also engage actively towards a pandemic treaty, convention or other international instrument that can improve global health surveillance and strengthen WHO.
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