CHANDRIKAPERSAD SANTOKHI, President of Suriname, noting that the challenges and crises facing the world have increased and deepened, he underscored the need to focus on solutions. “We make promises, not often kept. We express noble goals, but the delivery is poor. This cannot go on; business as usual cannot be our mantra,” he asserted. No country is spared the effects of these crises, especially developing States, including Suriname, and no country can solve these challenges alone. Accordingly, he called for a new approach to conceptualizing relations among countries to address these crises adequately — “a new kind of multilateralism, that is more just, effective and forces us to unite”. It is of utmost importance to transcend national interests and look to our shared global goals, he pointed out, stressing the need to put aside ideological differences.
To achieve this endeavour, “a strong, determined, and united United Nations is a must,” he declared, noting that the multiple global and national crises — such as the debt burden, domestic effects of climate change, the financial-economic downturn following the pandemic and the impact of the raging war in Ukraine — have put tremendous pressure on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. For small developing countries, with low-lying coastal areas, the fiscal pressure due to other crises beyond their doing, is a real and daily problem. Recalling his recent visit to Cuba, he stressed the importance of science, technology and innovation to increase food production, and noted the negative impact of the long-standing embargo. Stressing the need to ensure an accessible, transparent and safe digitally transformative environment, he spotlighted Suriname’s recently adopted National Digital Strategy 2023-2030.
Turning to the deteriorating political, humanitarian and security environment in Haiti, he commended the efforts made so far to assist in finding an immediate solution and added that increased political efforts are needed to translate the intentions into tangible actions. The people of Haiti are looking to the regional and international community for assistance. At the same time, the Haitian stakeholders, divided into opposing groups, must demonstrate the will to reach a consensus. He spoke of the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference and said that it was regrettable that, despite efforts, the world remains far from reaching the required level of emissions to prevent irreversible damage to the global environment and society. “And we are bearing the brunt”, he stressed, adding that Suriname is currently experiencing exceptionally high temperatures, resulting in challenges such as the availability of drinking water and heavy rainfall in inland areas, causing floods. Consequently, the people living in remote parts of the country’s vast interior are deprived of work, education and basic utilities, while food security is under threat.
As one of the three carbon-negative countries in the world, Suriname remains committed to play its part in protecting the planet through partnerships that contribute to remaining carbon-negative for now and the future. Calling for easier access to climate financing to implement mitigation and adaptation policies, he underlined the need to compensate highly-forested countries for the so-called “removal” credits, as these countries have acted as carbon sinks for the whole world without compensation. In this regard, he highlighted the urgent need for a comprehensive reform of the international financial architecture to address the economic, financial and environmental challenges faced by developing countries, calling on all heavy polluters to restrain from taxing or punishing environmentally friendly production in developing countries, which are the least responsible for the climate crisis.
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