NTSOKOANE SAMUEL MATEKANE, Prime Minister of Lesotho, emphasized that small and landlocked developing economies like his own “bear the biggest brunt” of economic uncertainty because they have not yet fully integrated into global markets. Reversing current economic trajectories requires multilateral cooperation, and the international community must level the playing field of the world’s financing architecture by democratizing and reforming the Bretton Woods institutions. He called for G20 countries to provide at least $500 billion per year toward the Sustainable Development Goals through a combination of grants and both concessional and non-concessional finance. Despite the country’s challenges, however, he affirmed that Lesotho is “not sitting back” as a spectator to achieve the SDGs. His Government hosted a high-level event on nutrition and food security this year and has embarked on comprehensive constitutional and legislative reforms. These reforms will improve management of public resources, checks and balances, and political stability with a focus on the development agenda.
To address climate change, he announced that Lesotho will host the ‘Water and Hydrogen in a Digital Future Conference and Expo’ to showcase its efforts to become the world’s first sustainable “digital hydro nation”. In order to generate clean energy for domestic use and export to neighbouring countries, he invited other countries and the private sector to invest in the sector. While he recognized climate change as “one of the formidable challenges of our time,” he spoke of “a silver lining on the horizon” to “turn the fortunes” of Lesotho’s people. Lesotho has water, sunlight, and wind “in abundance” that provides opportunities for innovation and partnerships to generate renewable energy and create jobs. He also urged developed countries to meet their commitments of providing $100 billion a year to developing States to implement the Paris Agreement. People with disabilities, the youth, women, and other vulnerable groups need to be at the centre, and inclusion of all stakeholders will bring “fundamental changes in the livelihood and well-being of our societies”.
Regarding international peace and security, he called for the total elimination of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, as well as the implementation of the Programme of Action on Small Arms. Peace will continue to elude Lesotho if access to small arms and light weapons, which kill the country’s people on a daily basis, remains unfettered. He also stated that Lesotho’s troops in Mozambique, under the Southern African Development Community, have made “commendable strides in thwarting the threat of deadly insurrection”. Elsewhere, he urged the international community to “not forget the plight of the Saharawi and Palestinian peoples, who continue to live under oppression”. Western Sahara should determine its own destiny and live in peace side by side with Morocco, and the solution to the Palestine question is to implement the two-State solution with Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace, security, and harmony. Moreover, he called for the uplifting of the economic embargo against Cuba and the remaining sanctions against Zimbabwe, as well as United Nations Security Council reform along the lines of the Ezulwini Consensus and Sirte Declaration for a more transparent and democratic Council.
Recognizing the current digital age that “compels our countries to ensure wide access to digital tools,” he stated that technology is key to fighting diseases and pandemics. Global cooperation needs to ensure that access to health and medicine continues to be adequately funded as a priority, particularly since full digital access remains a challenge for rural communities — further perpetuating inequalities. While digital access has increased civic engagement, especially among women and girls, he cautioned against losing sight of the need to address clear threats to people’s rights to safety and privacy.
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