DENIS SASSOU NGUESSO, President of the Republic of Congo, stressed the need to eliminate poverty and hunger in the world, to ensure a fairer and more equitable global economy, and to guarantee health care and quality education for the most disadvantaged. In concrete terms, it means providing water and electricity to as many people as possible; building road, rail, port, airport and energy infrastructure to connect territories, countries and regions; and preserving biodiverse ecosystems, in particular through responsible management of the tropical forests. He also highlighted the importance of respecting the diversity of cultural expressions, promoting mutual tolerance, gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.
Citing climate as “the most pressing of all emergencies”, he voiced concern over the continual rise in sea levels that endangers island countries; the rampant desertification that nothing seems to stop; the suffocating heatwaves which take the lives of so many elderly people; and frequent floods and sudden mudslides which cause immense damage. In this context, he drew attention to the afforestation initiative that he undertook in his capacity as President of the Congo Basin Climate Commission which was launched during the 27th 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27). In the same vein, the Republic of Congo has committed to hosting a summit of the three basins of biodiversity ecosystems and tropical forests — the Amazon, Borneo-Mekong and the Republic of Congo — as a collective response and concerted action of these three green lungs of the planet to the climate insecurity which threatens humankind. Since the dawn of time, forests have made life possible for millions of people. With one of the lowest deforestation rates in the world — only .06 per cent — the Republic of Congo plays its part in preserving the environment for the survival of humanity.
Relatedly, he welcomed the outcome of the application for the inscription of the Odzala-Kokoua National Park in the Republic of Congo on the World Heritage list, inscription made during the 45th session of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee, held recently in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It is undeniably an act of recognition which duly gratifies the efforts of his country in the preservation of this natural treasure of nearly 1.2 million hectares, rich in animal and plant biodiversity, in the heart of the Congo Basin, he added. Turning to agricultural development, he said that, in Africa, arable land must be protected from the harmful impacts of climate change. Otherwise, production estimates would become completely uncertain. With a population of nearly 2 billion in 2050, Africa must now make a qualitative leap to ensure that in the future, it has sufficient high-quality food, and ends the spectre of famine and poverty. Africa urgently needs modern agriculture, supported by modern irrigation and mechanization systems, an agriculture which should enable it to significantly reduce its food imports, which are still too high today. Accordingly, he called for effective technical and financial partnerships for substantial progress in this sector.
Noting the wars and other armed conflicts which are raging around the world, he said no significant progress is possible on any continent or in any country without peace. For its part, the Republic of Congo has always worked for the peaceful resolution of conflicts in Africa and around the world. This is why it decided to take an active part in the African initiative for peace mediation between the Russian Federation and Ukraine. Due to the risk of generalized war that these events pose to the world, all Member States should temper the actors in that conflict, stop fanning the flames and commit to peace negotiations. The world urgently needs peace negotiations to prevent the current clashes from further spiralling, and pushing humanity into what could be an irremediable cataclysm — a total war beyond the control of the great Powers themselves. “I remain convinced that the wise recommendations made by Africa to restore peace between Ukraine and Russia will ultimately be heeded,” he asserted.
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