DATO SERI PADUKA AWANG HAJI ERYWAN BIN PEHIN DATU PEKERMA JAYA HAJI MOHD YUSOF, Second Minister for Foreign Affairs of Brunei Darussalam, while noting that many are now looking to a post-pandemic world, stressed that vaccine equity is crucial to this achievement. Only 58 countries have reached the 70 per cent vaccination target set by the World Health Organization (WHO) and, although initial supply and manufacturing challenges have been addressed, many countries still struggle to get their allotted vaccines. He welcomed the role that the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) initiative has played during this global health emergency, but spotlighted the need to develop a more-effective global-health infrastructure to face future emergencies. He also called for increased efforts to address the pandemic’s impact in areas such as mental health. In this, Brunei Darussalam has introduced a five-year multisectoral mental-health action plan, in addition to working on a regional basis to promote better mental health and well-being.
Turning to climate change, he cited reports of climate change’s impact on agriculture, which has led to devastating consequences for food production and food security. For its part, Brunei Darussalam is moving towards net-zero emissions by 2050 by preserving forests and transitioning to clean energy. Pointing out that rainforests still cover 72 per cent of his country’s land area, he noted that its greenhouse-gas emissions only account for 0.017 per cent of the global total. As a regional champion for conservation, the environment and forest preservation, Brunei Darussalam plays a leading role through its plans to host the ASEAN Centre for Climate Change. It will also work to strengthen the region’s capability to prevent, mitigate and manage climate-related disasters by establishing mechanisms and formulating policies towards this end.
Noting that, last year, the peace and stability of the South-East Asia region was affected, he recalled that ASEAN collectively agreed on a five-point consensus to work gradually and constructively towards a peaceful solution and return to normalcy in Myanmar. Unfortunately, this matter continues to require close attention, and he welcomed the continued support of the United Nations and others for ASEAN’s efforts in this regard. He went on to point out that the current conflict in Europe led Member States to adopt a resolution ensuring accountability for the Security Council, but expressed disappointment that the same attention was not given to resolving other areas of conflict — particularly the question of Palestine. Urging the international community to give the same attention to conflicts wherever they are — particularly where territorial integrity and sovereignty have been violated — he called on the same to remain resolute in its commitment to a two-State solution.