GUILLERMO LASSO MENDOZA, President of Ecuador, noted his Government’s great strides in “transitioning from unsustainable production systems to a low emission circular economy”. In January 2022, Ecuador expanded the protection of the Galapagos Islands. “This decision represents the greatest step forward by my country towards the preservation of our incomparable biodiversity,” he stressed. Together with Colombia, Costa Rica and Panama, Ecuador has created the largest cross-border reserve in the world, protecting 500,000 square kilometres, home to innumerable and unique species that use these migratory routes. He expressed concern at the upcoming and “ever more likely El Niño phenomenon”, which could cause devastating flooding in Ecuador and the region. “We appeal to the international community to consider risk mitigation measures,” he said.
Faced with alarming figures of chronic infant malnutrition, Ecuador has, in just 28 months, reduced the rate of malnutrition in infants under the age of two by 3.5 per cent, he went on to say. This type of malnutrition has serious consequences on children, affecting their neurological development, their ability to learn, communicate, think and relate to others. Ecuador has repurposed and equipped health centres; recruited more family medicine specialists, obstetricians and nurses; and hired 50,000 community workers who go into neighbourhoods to detect cases of malnutrition. “Solutions don’t depend on how much money a State has, but rather, how much political will its leaders have,” he added.
Ecuador also strives to promote safe and responsible migration, he said. “We are a country of origin, of destination, a transit country, and a country of return, and even of refuge,” he said. Ecuador has hosted thousands of migrants of different nationalities. Venezuelan citizens have reached Ecuador — fleeing hunger and authoritarianism. “Our arms have been open wide to protect this population that is asking for refuge”, he said. Nonetheless, the open doors policy requires support of the international community. On Ukraine, he called for a cessation of military aggression and compliance with the International Court of Justice. “We have warned that this conflict not only inflicts pain and destruction on the people of Ukraine, but also worsens global food insecurity and destabilizes the global economy,” he stressed.
Turning to transnational organized crime, particularly drug trafficking, he said that his Government has beaten records in the confiscation of drugs. In just two years, it has seized more than 500 tons — a figure that far exceeds that seized by previous Governments. In 2022, the UN recognized Ecuador as the third country in the world in drug seizures, after the United States and Colombia. Just a few weeks ago, Ecuador experienced a tragic event: the assassination of a presidential candidate. Fernando Villavicencio was a clearsighted and brave Ecuadorian, who denounced the activities of organized crime and its links with political mafias. Transnational organized crime is a corrupt and murderous system, which penetrates society and the State, which defies democratic stability, and which is progressing at great speed. “If the enemy is able to multiply itself, States must also be able to multiply our efforts even more so,” he said.
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