At UN, Latin American leaders underline ‘insufficient’ progress, urgent need to address climate change

3 October 2015

Opening the floor at the United Nations General Assembly today, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of El Salvador said “we have concluded a stage in the world’s history marked by important progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), however, this progress has not been sufficient.”

“The fight against poverty and inequality still remains,” Hugo Roger Martínez Bonilla told Government representatives on the last day of the annual debate. “Economic and financial crises have increased the vulnerability of the poorest.”

“Minister Martínez Bonilla stressed that special attention must be paid to the matter of sovereign debt. “The negative impact of debt servicing on the needs for development and the effective enjoyment of human right in our countries is enormous, since it directly affects the capacity of the State to generate public investment and to stimulate private investment.”

“The Salvadoran Minister said that to attain the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a new vision of international cooperation is required: “We must work towards achieving a change in the current structure of financing for development and we must strengthen South-South cooperation without delay.”

“On the issue of migrants, he said El Salvador recognizes that this group is mentioned as a vulnerable one in the 2030 Agenda, adding that migrants also make an “undoubted contribution” to the development of the countries in which they live. In addition, he said El Salvador insists that the international community and organizations involved with migration, in particular the UN, guide actions to strengthen cooperation initiatives in the area of international migration.

“Meanwhile, Suriname was also represented at today’s general debate by its Minister of Foreign Affairs, Niermala Badrising, who said climate change is high on the national agenda of his Government.


Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Suriname, Niermala S. Badrising, addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventieth session. UN Photo/Cia Pak

“Although Suriname is the smallest South American country, we are housing about 8 per cent of the world's untouched tropical forest,” he declared. “With approximately 94 per cent of rainforest covering our country, we can proudly inform this Assembly of Nations that we are the greenest nation on Earth.”

“He added that Suriname “can be regarded as quite special” since it is one of the few carbon negative countries in the world, noting that his Government looks forward to a new global agreement at COP-21[the climate change conference] in Paris, France, later this year.

“Minister Badrising also stressed that despite many positive developments over the last seven decades, the socioeconomic development and the existing social inequality in a number of regions remain “alarming,” and that in his country’s view, social and economic developments are interlinked and interdependent.

“In her address to the Assembly, the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Dominica, Francine Baron, spoke about the recent devastation caused by Tropical Storm Erika and also urged the international community to take action on climate change.


Minister for Foreign Affairs and CARICOM Affairs of the Commonwealth of Dominica, Francine Baron, addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventieth session. UN Photo/Cia Pak

“She said that, when preparing for the 70th session of the General Assembly, her delegation decided to highlight “the challenges brought about by the increasing concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the resulting changes in global climate.”

“Climate change, she said, is a major threat posed to our planet that has a disproportionately high impact on Small island developing states (SIDS).

“Our concerns have magnified since August 27, 2015,” she said, noting that Tropical Storm Erika brought “up to 18 inches of rain in 16 hours” in Dominica, with rapid flash flooding and numerous landslides. Some 13 people have been confirmed dead and 17 are still missing as a result of the storm.

“She added that 90 per cent of Dominica’s Gross Domestic Product had been wiped out, and World Bank estimates indicated a loss of $483 million in infrastructure.

“Thanking the international community for its relief support, she said they would now build a “stronger and more climate resilient Dominica.”

“Ms. Baron also noted the upcoming climate change conference in Paris, saying her country expected all parties to “heed the warnings of the scientific community and the plea of us who experience the impact of climate change on a daily basis, and make a serious commitment to combat global warming.”


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