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10/11/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 10/11/2021 19:48

Restoring Biodiversity ‘Defining Challenge of Our Time’, United Nations Official Says as Second Committee Takes Up Sustainable Development

Protecting nature and biodiversity are critical not only to sustainable development, but to the future of humanity and the planet, delegates stressed as the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) took up sustainable development and heard reports on the topic today.

"Putting biodiversity on a path to recovery is the defining challenge of our time," emphasized Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity, as she introduced the report of the Secretary-General on the work of that Convention (document A/76/225). The international community has a momentous opportunity to set the highest level of ambition to reduce and reverse biodiversity loss, and to safeguard its invaluable contributions to people and planet. Noting that benefits must be shared fairly and equitably, she called for the mobilization of resources and tools to reach the 2050 Vision of "Living in harmony with nature."

Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director‑General for Education of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said that climate change and loss of biodiversity are in the daily headlines, yet they are not sufficiently integrated in education. In presenting the note by the Secretary-General on education for sustainable development in the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (document A/76/228), she stressed that "Education for sustainable development can no longer be on the margins ‑ it should be brought to the heart of countries' efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals". She called on all UNESCO member States to green their curricula so that topics such as climate change are taught and practiced in every school across the world.

The representative of the Philippines, speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), noted the interlinkages between biodiversity loss, ecosystem degradation and zoonosis. He urged momentum to integrate biodiversity into the COVID‑19 response while preventing future public health emergencies and pandemics. Voicing support for the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, he added that the ASEAN Green Initiative is endeavouring to promote the restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems resources through the planting of 10 million trees in the region over the next 10 years.

In agreement, Ecuador's representative said that as a megadiverse country, with unique and fragile ecosystems, his country is promoting the protection and sustainable use of biological diversity. He expressed hope that the international community would be able to adopt, at the fifteenth Conference of Parties on the Convention on Biological Diversity in Kunming, a global framework for post‑2020 biodiversity that puts the world community on the path to achieving the 2050 Vision.

Morocco's representative, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said climate change mitigation is central to poverty eradication, which is compounded by the impacts of the pandemic. Emphasizing that the upcoming Climate Change Conference in Glasgow must result in more ambitious climate action and funding, she also noted the particular focus on biodiversity of the 2030 Agenda.

Hazard risk reduction is important as being prepared assists in recovering from calamities, she said. Noting that the pandemic as well as more frequent extreme weather events have significantly impacted travel and harmed the tourism sector, she said these events are hampering sustainable development at large. She called for urgent action at the highest level for contributions to support implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Kazakhstan (for the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries), Fiji, Saint Kitts and Nevis (for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)), Antigua and Barbuda (for the Alliance of Small Island States), Qatar, Egypt, Thailand, Singapore, Ethiopia, China, Sri Lanka, Syria, Malaysia, Iraq, Mexico, El Salvador, Tajikistan, Iran, Ghana, United Arab Emirates, Cuba, Kenya, Lebanon, Guinea (for the "Group of 77" developing countries and China), Saudi Arabia, Burkina Faso, Bangladesh, Jamaica, Armenia, Costa Rica, Cameroon, Indonesia, Zimbabwe, Maldives, Zambia, Russian Federation, Azerbaijan, Algeria, Belarus, Nigeria and Brazil.

The Permanent Observer of the Holy See also made a statement, as did a representative of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Presenting reports today were the Chief, Integrated Policy Analysis Branch, Division for Sustainable Development Goals, Department of Economic and Social Affairs; Special Representative of the Secretary‑General for Disaster Risk Reduction; Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification; Director, Mitigation Division, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; a representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); Director of Intergovernmental Affairs of the New York Office of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); Deputy Director for Sustainable Development of Tourism of the United Nations World Tourism Organization; and a Regional Adviser at the Regional Bureau for Arab States of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 12 October, to conclude its discussion of sustainable development.

Introduction of Reports

SHANTANU MUKHERJEE, Chief, Integrated Policy Analysis Branch, Division for Sustainable Development Goals, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, presented the Secretary‑General's report on "Agriculture technology for sustainable development: leaving no one behind" (document A/76/227). The report recognizes that science and technology could accelerate transformative change in agricultural practices to support the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It analyses technological trends in agriculture and potential benefits, risks and uncertainties surrounding emerging technologies.

He then introduced the Secretary‑General's report on "Towards the achievement of sustainable development: implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including through sustainable consumption and production, building on Agenda 21" (document A/76/212). The report notes that one year into the COVID‑19 pandemic, high uncertainty still surrounds the global economic outlook. Global gross domestic product (GDP) fell by an estimated 4.3 per cent in 2020, accompanied by the addition of an estimated 120 million people into extreme poverty. It further lays out challenges, progress and recommendations around sustainable consumption and production and identifies opportunities to accelerate action and achieve transformative pathways to reverse negative trends.

Next, he introduced the Secretary‑General's report on "Follow‑up to and implementation of the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway and the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States" (documents A/76/211 and A/76/211/Corr.1). The report reviews progress made in implementation of the SAMOA Pathway over the past year. It contains a summary of actions taken by Member States and the organizations of the United Nations system, including the regional commissions.

Finally, Mr. Mukherjee introduced the Secretary‑General's report on "Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all" (document A/76/206), which provides an overview of progress made towards ensuring access to such energy and highlights actions taken by Member States and other stakeholders to support this objective. The report also provides an update on the implementation of the United Nations Decade of Sustainable Energy for All 2014-2024 and on the high-level dialogue on energy. The Decade of Sustainable Energy for All provides a unique global platform to strengthen ambition and action in response to the outcomes of the high-level dialogue.

MAMI MIZUTORI, Special Representative of the Secretary‑General for Disaster Risk Reduction, introduced the report on "Implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015‑2030" (document A/76/240) noting that implementation of the Framework continues to deliver results, but that the pace of implementation is too slow. Reducing hazard risk must be at the core of "Our Common Agenda" to provide a prosperous and sustainable planet for current and future generations. Over 120 countries reported on the development of disaster risk reduction strategies by the end of 2020. However, targets on international cooperation to developing countries for disaster risk reduction and access to multi‑hazard early warning systems and risk assessments are off track.

To accelerate the pace of implementation and overcome bottlenecks and challenges, the report recommends that countries adopt common methodologies and terminology for multi‑hazard risk assessment to allow sharing of risk data across all sectors; focus on overcoming institutional, capacity, and financing challenges that prevent coherence in the development, implementation, and monitoring of disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation, and sustainable development policies and plans; and integrate disaster risk reduction into countries' economic planning, public investment strategies and budgets in all sectors. Further, as countries respond to and recover from the pandemic, enhancing disaster preparedness and building back better is critical. In that regard, Member States should apply the Sendai Framework to ensure a prevention‑oriented and risk‑informed approach to COVID‑19 socioeconomic recovery policies, strategies and financial packages. Looking ahead, she said the midterm review of the Sendai Framework in 2023 is an opportune moment to take stock of progress, renew commitments and raise ambition to implement the Framework by 2030.

IBRAHIM THIAW, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, introduced the Secretary‑General's report on "Implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in those countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification, particularly in Africa" (document A/76/225). He noted that desertification and land degradation are amongst the most serious wounds the global community is inflicting on itself, with droughts remaining a major threat to the world economy and its stability. Avoiding, reducing and restoring degraded land is the most pragmatic, economically affordable and socially acceptable nature‑based solution to the multiple challenges we face - combatting land degradation, climate change and reducing biodiversity loss.

Land restoration offers a reliable platform to achieve multiple goals, especially those concerned with grasslands, drylands or rangelands, which are ecosystems overlooked at a global level, he said. Their sustainable management is the most concrete action that the international community can support and witness a quick impact on economies and livelihoods. Building back better in the aftermath of the pandemic will be costly and the trajectory to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals seriously disturbed. As greening the economies has been seen as a pathway to sustainability, land‑based jobs can be a game‑changer. Land restoration can underpin the future economy as a formidable machine to create millions of decent green jobs, particularly for women and youth.

ELIZABETH MARUMA MREMA, Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity, introducing the report of the Secretary‑General on the work of that Convention (document A/76/225), noted that the fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties is beginning in Kunming, China and will include a high-level segment which is expected to produce a declaration. In preparation, the twenty‑fourth session of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technological and Technical Advice met virtually for six weeks during May to June 2021, she said, adding that the first part of the third meeting of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation was also convened online during the same period, with high levels of participation in both meetings. Turning to preparations for the post‑2020 global biodiversity framework, she said that the third meeting of the Open‑ended Working Group took place, virtually, during August and September 2021.

Also noting the virtual pre‑Conference of the Parties high‑level meeting organized by the Government of Colombia, which included world leaders, ministers and heads of coalitions, she said it imparted the much‑needed political impetus for an ambitious and effective post‑2020 global biodiversity framework. "Putting biodiversity on a path to recovery is the defining challenge of our time, she stressed, adding that the international community has a momentous opportunity to set the highest level of ambition to reduce and reverse biodiversity loss, and to safeguard its invaluable contributions to people and planet. "We also need to ensure that the benefits are shared fairly and equitably," she said, calling for the mobilization of resources and tools are mobilized to reach the 2050 Vision of "Living in harmony with nature."

STEFANIA GIANNINI, Assistant Director‑General for Education of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), introduced the note by the Secretary‑General on education for sustainable development in the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (document A/76/228). Climate change and loss of biodiversity are in the daily headlines, she said, but they are not sufficiently integrated in education. In May, UNESCO's new report "Learn for our planet" reviewed how environmental themes are integrated in national policy and curricula documents in almost 50 Member States. However, climate change is not mentioned in over half the documents, and biodiversity only in one in five. This suggests the need for a much more systematic approach to promote ecological transition in education, and to prepare teachers and learners to address current and future environmental challenges.

As the lead United Nations agency on education for sustainable development, UNESCO fosters the green transition through education, she said. In May, at the UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development, more than 70 ministers of education and close to 3,000 education and environment stakeholders committed to taking concrete steps to transform learning for the survival of our planet by adopting the Berlin Declaration on Education for Sustainable Development. Education for sustainable development can no longer be on the margins ‑ it should be brought to the heart of countries' efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, she stressed. Following the Berlin Declaration, all UNESCO Member States are invited to green their curricula so that topics such as climate change are taught and practiced in every school across the world. The year 2021 is a critical year for nature and humanity's survival on the planet. In that regard, accelerated integration of climate education into curricula and school culture is critical.

JAMES GRABERT, Director, Mitigation Division, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, introduced the report of its Executive Secretary on "Protection of global climate for present and future generations of humankind" (document A/76/225). He noted that COVID‑19 induced changes to the Framework Convention's calendar in 2020, having significant implications on its ability to achieve its goals for the year. The pandemic succeeded in slowing down its work, but failed to slow down climate change, he added, further disadvantaging already vulnerable populations. The international community must intensify and scale up climate action to rapidly reduce emissions and increase resilience and ensure that support is available to those who need it to take more ambitious climate action. He expressed hope that this General Assembly session will agree on resolutions urging Parties to the Paris Agreement on climate change to accelerate their work both nationally and under the intergovernmental process.

LIFENG LI, speaking for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), introduced the Secretary‑General's report on sand and dust storms (document A/76/219). The report highlights initiatives undertaken by United Nations entities, Member States and a range of stakeholders, reflecting on the growing awareness of the human, economic, social and environmental costs associated with such storms. Their cost is measured in economic, social and environmental terms and continues to grow. The United Nations Coalition on Combating Sand and Dust Storms, comprising 15 United Nations entities, is moving from the planning to the implementation stage in the strengthening the Organization's response to the issue. The transboundary nature of the storms has prompted the Coalition to prioritize the encouragement of regional and interregional collaboration between countries affected.

JAMIL AHMAD, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs of the New York Office of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), introduced the report of the fifth session of the "United Nations Environment Assembly of the United Nations Environment Programme" (document A/76/25) and the report of the Secretary‑General on "Strengthening cooperation for integrated coastal zone management for achieving sustainable development" (document A/76/354). Recalling its session, he said that Member States decided that it would be held in two parts, comprising an online meeting, which took place in February 2021, and a resumed in‑person meeting in February‑March 2022. The online meeting took place in Nairobi from 22 to 23 February 2021 under the theme "Strengthening Actions for Nature to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals". A total of 151 Member States were represented. A significant number of bodies, entities and specialized agencies of the United Nations system, secretariats of various environmental conventions, international organizations, civil society, major groups, academia, and the business and scientific communities, also participated. During the dialogue, participants emphasized the inextricable links between nature and human health, as well as with the climate and pollution crises. Speakers also stressed the need for a green economic recovery from the pandemic that will transform humans' relations with nature and heal the planet, and that puts us on a path to a low‑carbon, resilient and inclusive post‑pandemic world, while addressing the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable.

On the report of the Secretary‑General on strengthening cooperation for integrated coastal zone management for achieving sustainable development, he said that it provides details on developments and actions taken by the United Nations system to support the efforts of Member States in promoting and implementing the integrated coastal zone management approach, as well as in mobilizing partnerships and initiatives at the local, national and regional levels. The integrated coastal zone management approach includes in this report: integrated coastal zone management, integrated coastal area and watershed management and marine spatial planning, as well as to address specific elements of coastal sustainable development and action focusing on enhancing Member States' capacity on the approach. Of particular importance, he said, are the actions taken under the regional marine intergovernmental mechanisms, such as the regional seas conventions and action plans and Large Marine Ecosystem mechanisms/projects. Overall, after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, Member States have proactively applied the integrated coastal zone management approach and incorporated it in national and subnational policies and strategies related to marine and coastal sustainable development. These efforts highlighted that the integrated coastal zone management approach contributes to both environmental and socioeconomic development in coastal areas and to achieving a wide range of Sustainable Development Goals and their targets.

SOFIA GUTIERREZ, Deputy Director for Sustainable Development of Tourism of the United Nations World Tourism Organization, introduced the Secretary‑General's report on "Sustainable tourism and sustainable development in Central America" (document A/76/217). She noted that tourism is one of sectors hardest hit by the pandemic, hampering efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Stressing that an opportunity has presented itself to build a more diversified and sustainable world, she said coordinated and decisive action is needed to promote a recovery. Adding that resilience must be strengthened, she highlighted the importance of regional cooperation, the upcoming Climate Change Conference in Glasgow and the promotion of tourism through public‑private partnerships.

MOISES VENANCIO, Regional Adviser at the Regional Bureau for Arab States of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), presented the report of the Secretary-General on the oil slick on Lebanese shores (document A/76/298). He said that it provides an update on the resolution concerning the environmental impact caused by the destruction of petroleum storage tanks in [the vicinity of the power plant] in Lebanon by the Israeli Air Force on 15 July 2006, which caused an oil slick covering two‑thirds of the Lebanese coastline and extended beyond that to that of Syria. The report was prepared by UNDP in consultation with UNEP, building on the work undertaken by an inter‑agency team established for the previous report. On the request to undertake a further study to quantify the environmental damage, he said the Secretary‑General had already noted that nine years after occurrence of the oil slick, there were no further relevant findings available in relation to the environmental impact sustained by Lebanon and its neighbouring countries beyond the assessments previously presented. On the request for Israel to assume responsibility for prompt and adequate compensation to the Government of Lebanon and to other countries affected, such as Syria, he said the report notes that Israel has not assumed responsibility for the relevant compensation. The Secretary‑General commends efforts undertaken by Lebanon to address the impact of the oil slick, noting however with grave concern the lack of implementation of the resolution in terms of compensation by the Government of Israel to the Government and people of Lebanon, particularly since, as studies indicate, damages are valued at $856 million in 2014. He said the Secretary‑General encourages contributions to the Eastern Mediterranean Oil Spill Restoration Trust Fund, given the tough socioeconomic challenges faced by Lebanon, and no funds deposited to date.

Questions and Answers

The representative of Morocco asked the Convention to Combat Desertification and Framework Convention on Climate Change about synergies that will be established between the 2016 Climate Change Conference and the upcoming fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity, especially concerning the allocation of 50 per cent of climate finance to climate adaptation.

The representative of the Framework Convention on Climate Change said that two high‑level champions on climate action are working to present plans for next five years for the Marrakesh Partnership. On climate adaptation, he expects ongoing discussions on this topic between the Convention to Combat Desertification and other United Nations agencies.

The representative of the Convention to Combat Desertification said there are developing synergies between climate and land discussions, noting that climate issues cannot be addressed without consideration of land issues. The narrative on this topic is evolving, he said. While the topics used to be seen in silos, the relationship between the two is now clear and the nexus between climate and addressing land degradation is an important agenda item.

Statements

The representative of Kazakhstan, speaking on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said decisive actions are needed to tackle the negative impacts of climate change, which is increasingly catastrophic, and has made its States more vulnerable and reduced their ability to adapt to its worst impacts. Further, she said, in such areas, climate change has exacerbated desertification, biodiversity loss, recurrent droughts, land degradation and other disasters such as forest fires. Turning to the 2022 Ocean Conference, she hoped the landlocked developing countries will be acknowledged on an equal footing to least developed countries and small island developing States in the draft outcome document, and that capacity‑building, technology transfer and education are extended to them in the outcome document to be adopted in 2022.

She went on to highlight the unique vulnerability of landlocked developing countries to climate change, noting that a higher percentage of their lands are classified as dry and degraded. This calls for targeted funding that helps landlocked developing countries support climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts. Further, she called for accelerated action on biodiversity, which is vital to livelihoods, recalling that in 2020, at least 18 countries in her bloc were not on track to meet their national biodiversity targets and none of the Aichi Targets were met globally due to lack of support and means of implementation. Therefore, the new post‑2020 global biodiversity framework will need the support of the international community to help developing countries successfully set and meet their targets. Moreover, funding support including debt relief is vital to enable landlocked developing countries to redirect funds for sustainable development initiatives and transition to renewable energy sources, she said, pointing out that the Secretary‑General's report said 23 landlocked developing countries accessed only $3 million from the Green Climate Fund readiness support programme to formulate national adaptation plans.

The representative of the Philippines, speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), noted that ASEAN Vision 2025 and the 2030 Agenda complement each other with shared principles and values of people‑centred development. Noting that his region is located among the most natural disaster‑prone regions in the world, he said the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management serves as a common platform and the regional policy backbone for disasters. Highlighting the region's vulnerability to climate change, he said that forecasted rankings show six ASEAN countries in the top 20 countries most vulnerable to climate change worldwide. Reaffirming commitment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement, he said that ASEAN is committed to engage as a strong regional group at the fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in 2022.

Noting the potential interlinkages between biodiversity loss, ecosystem degradation and zoonosis, he stressed the need to use the momentum to integrate biodiversity into the pandemic response while preventing future public health emergencies and pandemics. Also voicing support for the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, he added that the ASEAN Green Initiative is endeavouring to promote the restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems resources through the planting of 10 million trees in the region over the next 10 years. Natural gas and renewable energy can play a key role in the transition towards lower‑emission energy systems, he said, welcoming the convening of the high-level dialogue on energy which took place in September 2021.

The representative of Morocco, speaking on behalf of the African Group and associating herself with the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, noted that poverty is on the rise on her continent, presenting enormous challenges in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The mitigation of climate change is central to poverty eradication, which is compounded by the impacts of the pandemic. Emphasizing that the upcoming Climate Change Conference in Glasgow must result in more ambitious climate action and funding, she said the 2030 Agenda places particular focus on biodiversity.

The African Group stresses the importance of hazard risk reduction, as being prepared greatly assists in recovering from calamities. Noting that the pandemic as well as more frequent extreme weather events have significantly impacted travel and harmed the tourism sector, she said these events are hampering sustainable development at large. She called for urgent action at the highest level for contributions to support implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

The representative of Fiji, speaking for the Pacific Islands Development Forum, called on all parties to the Paris Agreement to communicate or update their nationally determined contributions in time to be included in the final version of the report on the same, which will be published prior to the upcoming Climate Change Conference. He also urged those parties who have yet to ratify the Agreement to expedite their domestic processes and promptly deposit their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession. Further, the Forum looks forward to the completion of the multidimensional vulnerability index, which will help small island developing States adopt more informed policies for building and sustaining long‑term resilience, particularly in the context of post‑pandemic recovery.

Noting that the pandemic has altered the global development paradigm, he stressed that a changed approach is needed to meet the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Sustainable consumption and production "is about doing more and better with less", and also encompasses decoupling economic growth from environmental degradation, increasing resource efficiency and promoting sustainable lifestyles. The 2030 Agenda and the Samoa Pathway emphasize the necessity for a transformational approach to development, he added, and such an approach includes harnessing policy coherence, forming multistakeholder partnerships, accessing public and private finance, facilitating stronger trading relationships, effectively adopting science and technology and improving the collection and use of data.

The representative of St. Kitts and Nevis, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating himself with the Alliance of Small Island Developing States and the statement to be delivered by the Group of 77, said that multiple converging crises have exacerbated the pre‑existing vulnerabilities of small island developing States. Their economies are rapidly deteriorating, debt burdens increasing and the impacts of climate change ravaging their socioeconomic and environmental landscape. Several Caribbean small island developing States are estimated to have had economic declines of over 15 per cent in 2020.

He welcomed the Secretary‑General's report on the Samoa Pathway and reiterated the call for the development, finalization and use of a multidimensional vulnerability index, and to implement this by the end of 2022. He said his bloc remains deeply concerned that, despite the expanded mandate established by the Samoa Pathway and the 2030 Agenda to support the development of small island developing States, the resources allocated to them Small Islands Developing States Unit within the Department of Economic and Social Affairs have remained unchanged. He noted that the allocation of resources to the work of the Unit, as well as the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, must be predictable and reliable. He called for integrated action to stem the quickening pace of biodiversity loss, and to decelerate global greenhouse emissions through investments in low emissions, climate resilient 1.5°C pathways. His bloc looks forward to participation in the next meeting of the Conference of the States Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity that will take place in 2022 in Kunming.

The representative of Antigua and Barbuda, speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States, noted that the economies of his bloc are the most vulnerable and susceptible to longer periods of shocks after crises than any other group of countries. The effects of the pandemic are clear in that regard, with the closure of borders, halting of economies, economic contractions of up to 20 per cent and an increase in the debt burden for many of States. On the precarious debt position of small island developing States, he reported that his group had finalized the work on a "SIDS [small island developing States] Compact" and presented it to G20 ministers of finance for action and consideration. The Compact outlines the need for a special funding window for small island developing States which would enable better access to concessional financing through utilizing a multidimensional vulnerability index.

Turning to climate change, many small island developing States have reached their limits in terms of adaptation and mitigation considering the finite resources at their disposal and the existing extreme loss and damage they suffer, he warned. As such, there must be provisions for access and simplified approval of climate finance for his bloc. In that context, a voluntary disaster fund could capture the intension of the Sendai Framework, where the United Nations system and the international community not only respond to post disasters but also provide provisions that would allow those States to better prepare for the impacts of disasters and build their resilience.

The representative of Qatar noted that the pandemic has highlighted the need for universal vaccination in recovery efforts, towards achieving sustainable development on a grand scale. Qatar is working in close cooperation with global partners to implement the Sustainable Development Goals, supporting multilateral cooperation and emergency relief. Qatar has provided $20 million to UNDP projects to alleviate the effects of the pandemic and $42 million in support to several individual countries.

The representative of Egypt, associating himself with the Group of 77, said developing countries are facing increasing problems with respect to debt burdens, population increase, climate change, water scarcity, desertification and other problems aggravated by the pandemic. All programmes implemented in that regard should be commensurate with the national priorities and strategies of developing countries. Stressing the importance of balanced work in the field of climate change and focused work on adaptation and resilience particularly in developing countries, he expressed support for the Secretary‑General's call to allocate 50 per cent of resources in that field to adaptation projects. Development partners must remain committed to achieving the target of $100 billion according to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and to cover the actual needs of developing countries. He said Egypt will continue to provide efforts in this regard, particularly in hosting the twenty-seventh Conference of the Parties.

The representative of Thailand noted that her country aims to achieve carbon neutrality in the energy sector between 2065 and 2070. It is also in the process of drafting the Biodiversity Management Act and promoting the Bio-Circular-Green Economy Model to ensure that biodiversity remains a priority in the road to recovery. Looking ahead to the 2022 United Nations Ocean Conference, she said that Thailand aims to declare 10 per cent of its maritime zone as protected areas by 2030. She stressed that human empowerment should be placed at the core of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. In that regard, Thailand will promote the Bangkok Principles on the health aspects of the Sendai Framework to ensure that no one is left behind in times of crisis. She also underscored the importance of resilience and closing development gaps in the long run, including closing the digital divide and promoting digital literacy. Thailand will work to promote the localization of Sustainable Development Goals and expand partnerships at the local level, she added.

The representative of Singapore stressed the importance of a circular economy, pointing out that his country has harnessed technology to recycle used water and incineration ash as construction material. It is also constructing an integrated waste and water treatment facility, treating used water sludge and food waste together for biogas for energy generation. Highlighting the launch of the Singapore Green Plan 2030 in 2021, he said that his country will plant 1 million more trees, quadruple solar energy deployments and increase the production of local nutritional needs from less than 10 per cent to 30 per cent. He went on to note that Singapore will continue to support developing countries through capacity‑building. In that regard, it has extended its Climate Action Package until 2023, providing courses in climate science, climate mitigation and adaptation, green finance and hazard risk reduction. To celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the Forum of Small States, Singapore has launched a "FOSS for Good" programme, focusing on the priorities and unique challenges faced by small countries, he noted.

The representative of Ethiopia said his country has submitted a climate sensitive plan to update its National Development Plan. Under that plan, Ethiopia will continue efforts to restore degraded lands and broaden access to electricity, as more than 16 million people in the country are lacking it. Ethiopia has also designed ambitious national programmes in education and clean, affordable energy, especially in rural areas.

The representative of China called on States to increase investments in poverty reduction, food security, combating COVID‑19, vaccine development, climate action, biodiversity conservation and to seize the historic opportunity of industrial transformation. He called for the full implementation of the Paris Agreement, while adhering to the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities". Noting that the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity opened today in Kunming, China, he reaffirmed his country's commitments in green and low‑carbon development. China aims to hit peak emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060. Further, it will no longer build coal power projects overseas, he said, adding that China joined countries involved in the "Belt and Road Initiative". He also voiced his support to the establishment of the Research Center of Big Data for Sustainable Development and the United Nations Global Geographic Knowledge and Innovation Centre.

The representative of Sri Lanka said his country's national policy framework aligns with Agenda 2030. Being an island nation in the Indian Ocean, it is working towards sustainability of ocean resources as well as managing a strategy that promotes ocean exploration, mitigation of coastal erosion and enhancing education in related areas. Sri Lanka aims to transition to a blue economy in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. In that regard, it is dedicated to providing an adequate supply of safe drinking water to its entire population. As well, he said Sri Lanka aims to transition away from fossil fuels, promote decarbonization and to be a carbon‑neutral country by 2050.

The representative of Syria stressed that said no country could overcome consequences of the COVID‑19 pandemic on its own. Compounding that, his country has been impeded by additional obstacles, including a terrorist war that has damaged its infrastructure and unilateral coercive measures imposed by certain States that have contravened the Charter of the United Nations. It is impossible to implement the 2030 Agenda so long as these inhuman and illegal measures are in place, he emphasized, adding that the occupying Power in the Syrian Golan must be held responsible for implementing the Sustainable Development Goals in that region.

The representative of Ecuador, associating himself with the Group of 77, said his country's national development plan is aligned with Agenda 2030, with 123 of its 129 goals linked to the Sustainable Development Goals. Stopping biodiversity loss is a priority for Ecuador. A megadiverse country, with unique and fragile ecosystems, it promotes the protection and sustainable use of biological diversity for current generations. He expressed hope that the international community would be able to adopt, at the fifteenth Conference of Parties on the Convention on Biological Diversity, a global framework for post‑2020 biodiversity that puts the world community on the path to achieving the 2050 vision of "living in harmony with nature". His country is proud to be the facilitator of the resolution "Implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity and its contribution to sustainable development", and to co‑coordinate on behalf of the Group of 77 the resolution on "Disaster Risk Reduction".

The representative of Malaysia, associating himself with the Group of 77 and China and ASEAN, said his country recently established the Climate Change Action Council that will set policy direction in climate change mitigation. In localizing climate action, Malaysia will shift towards increasing the usage of electric vehicles, low‑carbon transportation system and low‑carbon cities with the aim of securing a carbon neutral economy. Further, his country has introduced various initiatives such as fixing a target of 40 per cent of renewable energy generation in its energy mix by 2035. As a party to the Convention on Biological Diversity, Malaysia has also undertaken various efforts in conserving biodiversity including gazetting terrestrial and marine protected areas in line with Sustainable Development Goals 14 and 15.

The representative of Iraq, aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, underscored the importance of international solidarity in recovering from the effects of the pandemic. On climate change, he said his country's situation is precarious according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) index and should be provided with needed assistance. Iraq is making clean, affordable energy a priority in its sustainable development plans for the 2030 Agenda. Adding that sandstorms are a major concern in his country, he highlighted their negative effect on vegetation and health.

The representative of Mexico said his Government presented its third Voluntary National Review and seven Voluntary Local Reports during the 2021 High‑Level Political Forum. Today, Mexico is one of only 11 countries with three National Reports and the first to have nine Voluntary Local Reports in a single year. Noting the urgency to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, he called for synergies between the three agendas of the Rio Conventions: biodiversity, climate change and desertification. Towards the upcoming Climate Change conference, his Government will continue to actively participate in the negotiations of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, particularly regarding the conclusion of the Work Programme of the Paris Agreement. As a megadiverse country, Mexico's priorities are focused on safeguarding its biocultural heritage, working proactively on the fifteenth Biodiversity Conference and on the conclusion of the Post‑2020 Global Framework on Biodiversity. As a member of the High‑Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, Mexico will continue to promote responsible and inclusive use of the ocean and its resources, he said, adding that his country will be proactive in the search for solutions to build resilience and to work towards a rapid recovery from the pandemic.

The representative of El Salvador, aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, noted that his country is highly vulnerable to extreme weather, which has been exacerbated by the global community's failure to keep temperatures at acceptable levels. The world must come together on climate convention goals and provide technical and financial support from public and private sources to nations in need, he stressed. It must move from words to action, recognizing the need for climate justice, investing in green technology and improving climate regulation legislation. El Salvador has a national strategy to combat climate change, he said, which aims to address damage and loss, mitigate the phenomenon, strengthen resilience, restore depleted soil and promote energy efficiency.

The representative of Tajikistan, associating herself with the Group of 77 and China and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said that with 93 per cent of its territory covered by mountains, the Government is concerned about changes in the hydrological cycle leading to severe floods and droughts, which negatively impacts water, energy, and food security. Over the past 30 to 40 years, Tajikistan has lost almost 30 per cent of its glaciers, one of the main sources of fresh water, she said, drawing attention to the initiative to declare 2025 as the International Year for Glaciers Preservation and establish an international fund for glacier preservation under the auspices of the United Nations. On 22 September, Tajikistan together with a number of other Member States organized a High‑Level side event, "How changing water availability from ice and snow will impact our societies". This initiative gives impetus to a new global movement to protect glaciers from intense melting and will fit into the mainstream of measures currently taken by the world community within the framework of the Paris Agreement.

The representative of Iran, associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said it is alarming to witness the illegal unilateral coercive measures adopted by a few countries that are undermining the foundations of multilateralism at a critical moment. Despite all the restrictions and limitations arising from the United States illegal unilateral sanctions imposed against Iran, the country has made strides in education, science, technology and innovation, as well as in sustainable energy and responses to natural disasters. For example, Iran hosts the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) Centre for Development of Disaster Information Management. Drawing attention to sand and dust storms, which pose significant transboundary risks and threaten to undermine sustainable development - requiring accelerated action in response - he urged developed countries to respect the principles of common but differentiated responsibility with respect to climate change, and to advance technology transfer, capacity building and official development assistance to developing nations.

The representative of Ghana, associating himself with the Group of 77 and China and the African Group, echoed concerns about the COVID‑19 pandemic's impact across the health, social, economic, political and security dimensions of human life. "The inaction or unwillingness of Member States to cooperate in resolving common challenges sadly reminds us of the frailty of the bonds of our common humanity in the present era," he said. The global community must follow through on its commitments, without dithering, to bring countries back on track to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. He called for three essential actions in that regard, namely: an effective reopening of the global economy through universal access to vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics; a bridging of the $2.5 trillion sustainable development financing gap; and access to innovative solutions and new technologies. He outlined Ghana's efforts to revive its economy and ensure a sustainable recovery, whose results are now starting to become clear.

The representative of the United Arab Emirates said her country invests more than 600 billion dirham for clean energy. Stressing the need for the international community to translate words into action, she said the United Arab Emirates has hosted the first agency for renewable energy in the Middle East and has also invested in building solar stations across the country. Her Government's plans in the field of solar energy have been quite successful, she said, noting that it is the least costly method to regenerate energy in the world. On the international level, the United Arab Emirates participates in conferences on climate change and looks forward to the international community bearing responsibility for preservation of the environment. She said her country will host the twenty‑eighth Conference of the States Parties on the Convention on Climate Change and looks forward to enhancing further its efforts towards protecting the environment.

The representative of Cuba, aligning himself with the Alliance of Small Island States, said a combination of climate and development crises have reversed much of what has been achieved over the past few years. Stressing that the international community is far from achieving the 2030 Agenda, he said a just and fair international order, a revitalized global alliance and more effective means of implementation are needed. Cuba has additional challenges, as the United States has imposed economic and commercial sanctions on the country, which have intensified their effect in the context of COVID‑19, preventing donations of medical supplies and rendered unviable financial transactions as well as access to financing. However, Cuba, itself has supplied 40 countries and territories with medical assistance and is also developing vaccines of its own, which, in turn, will benefit other countries.

The representative of Kenya, associating herself with the Group of 77 and China and the African Group, declared: "Globally, we continue to feel the adverse effects of past negligence in environmental management." Noting that the world is barrelling towards a 2.7°C increase in temperature compared to pre‑industrial levels, she said UNEP and other relevant bodies must be empowered to support countries in tackling global environmental challenges in a holistic and coordinated manner. Citing the negative effects of the COVID‑19 pandemic on countries' socioeconomic conditions - and its disproportionate impact on developing countries and others in special situations - she urged States to honour their Paris Agreement commitments, especially by contributing to developing countries' investments in green manufacturing and the infrastructure. To that end, she outlined a range of policies being implemented in Kenya, noting that nearly half of its electricity is sourced geothermally, a number which will increase to three‑fifths by 2030.

The representative of Lebanon, noting that vaccine equity is still not within reach, said his country in 2021 launched jointly with other States the "Political Declaration on Equitable Global Access to COVID‑19 Vaccines", with the support of 183 delegations. Countries pledged to treat COVID‑19 vaccination as a global public good, fight vaccine inequity and increase the production and distribution of vaccines, especially in low and middle‑income countries. On funding for sustainable development, he welcomed the different debt initiatives, but noted that developing countries need around $4.3 trillion to vaccinate their populations. His country advocated in different United Nations processes for countries in debt distress to be eligible to receive debt treatment, including debt relief, with the participation of private creditors. It also underscored that the international community cannot combat climate change or face global health emergencies without providing adequate assistance to middle‑income countries. In that regard, measurement of development should go beyond gross domestic product (GDP) per capita to cover inequalities, debt sustainability, climate risks and humanitarian crises, including forced displacement. In this regard, his Government welcomes the ongoing work to develop a multidimensional vulnerability index and looks forward to its application to all developing countries.

The representative of Guinea, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77, stressed that sand and dust storms are a growing issue of international concern, directly affecting 11 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. His bloc highlights the link between sand and dust storms and COVID‑19, as they exacerbate the pandemic's symptoms in addition to other respiratory and cardiovascular disorders such as asthma, tracheitis, pneumonia, allergic rhinitis and silicosis. Adding that UNEP plays a fundamental role in promoting implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development, he said the programme needs to be strengthened so that it can support and serve countries to address challenges arising from climate change, biodiversity loss and other threats to the environment.

Urging developed countries to deliver on their commitments to mobilize $100 billion per year for climate action in developing countries, he said successful implementation of the Paris Agreement depends on it. Moreover, worldwide investment in clean and efficient energy will need to triple over the next 10 years to put the world on track for net zero emissions by 2050. To close the gap, it is estimated that the annual rate of growth in electrification would have to rise to 0.9 per cent annually until 2030. Financial commitments to developing countries need to increase, given the need to substantially scale up overall renewable energy investments in order to reach the targets of Sustainable Development Goals.

The representative of Saudi Arabia said his country is working on a "digital vision" project to enhance development and improve infrastructure. Adding that it is also seeking to enable people to realize potential and enhance their ambitions, he emphasized the need for increased international cooperation in facing the pandemic and impacts it has caused. His country has contributed $50 million to such international efforts as well as maintaining the environment, climate change and efforts to reverse desertification.

The representative of Burkina Faso, associating himself with the Group of 77, African Group and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said it has adopted and implemented a national plan in line with its international commitments to the sustainable development agenda. It has also put together various policies, strategies and initiatives, especially on reducing poverty, protecting the environment and promoting a green economy. He said his country's economic growth was sizeable even if variable. As well, its human development level has improved, he said, noting an increase in life and birth expectancy. To protect the environment, his Government developed several tools with the support of its partners. However, Burkina Faso continues to face enormous security and other challenges and counts on its partners for ongoing support, he said.

The representative of Bangladesh said the report reveals the many harsh realities faced by developing countries and the serious constraints they face in obtaining the vaccine. The pandemic has sent many people into poverty. The recent report calls for urgent action. Now, more than ever, there is a need for renewed partnerships so the international community can recover better and meet the goals of the 2030 Agenda. Bangladesh believes bold and ambitious outcomes are necessary. Multilateral activities should help the efforts of the most vulnerable countries. The pandemic lays out the strong nexus between climate change and disasters. Solutions require a scaling up of technology transfer and support. The pandemic has placed a harsh spotlight on the deep inequalities between developed and developing countries.

The representative of Jamaica, associating himself with the Group of 77, CARICOM and the Alliance of Small Island States, called on the United Nations system to reinforce the Samoa Pathway, whose objectives should be complemented by the 2030 Agenda's robust framework. Noting that Jamaica is reviewing the pandemic's impact on its development efforts, he said that the real challenge is not about landing the 2030 Agenda, but about implementing policies which trigger fast and sustained progress towards the Goals in a context of limited fiscal space. In that regard, it is focusing on strengthening its medium‑term socioeconomic policy framework, developing its capacity for innovative finance, strengthening its national statistics system and engaging the public about the Goals at the national and local levels, he said.

The representative of Armenia called attention to the Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework 2021-2025 for Armenia, which aims to foster economic green transformation, strengthen effective governance systems and increase gender equality and women empowerment. She also pointed out her country's focus on education, including online learning platforms that were launched to ensure continuity of education during COVID‑19. Committed to a low‑emission and climate‑resilient development, the Disaster Risk Management National Strategy of Armenia and its Action Plan set a policy framework to establish disaster resilient response mechanisms, reduce losses of human lives and livelihoods and establish appropriate water resource management systems, as well as combat deforestation and loss of biodiversity. In the energy sector, Armenia has adopted the Energy Sector Development Strategic Program for 2021-2040, aiming particularly to increase the share of solar energy in electricity production up to 15 per cent by 2030.

The representative of Costa Rica emphasized the need to build back better from the COVID‑19 pandemic, using nature‑based solutions to make the environment more resilient and sustainable. His country has developed an environmental strategy covering emissions levels, agriculture, forestry and land use. Before the pandemic, he noted that financial needs to implement the Sustainable Development Goals came to $2.5 billion; they have now risen to $3.5 billion, representing an urgent situation.

The representative of Cameroon said his country is committed to increasing its national production of renewable energy to 25 per cent by 2030 and providing reliable, affordable and sustainable energy to its population. In addition, Cameroon has set up the "Sahel Vert" operation, which has enabled the restoration of nearly a million hectares of land. Noting other renewable and clean energy projects, he expressed hope that the Green Climate Fund and all partners involved will support the implementation of those important projects, along with the Blue Fund for the Congo Basin, to help secure the transition. It has also set up the National Observatory on Climate Change and a laboratory charged with monitoring effects of greenhouse gas to ensure Cameroon is aligned with its commitment to the Paris Agreement and related conventions.

The representative of Indonesia emphasized the need for mobilization of adequate means of funding to implement all Sustainable Development Goals. This means that the pledged $100 billion per year must be met, filling in financing gaps for the post‑2020 period.

The representative of Zimbabwe, aligning himself with the African Group and the Group of 77 and China, said the socioeconomic crisis is threatening lives and disproportionately impacting the most vulnerable, including African countries, small island developing States, the least developed countries and the landlocked developing countries. Millions of people have been pushed into extreme poverty. Many countries are not on track to meet the 2030 Agenda. Ongoing conflicts and climate change will put the global goals beyond the reach of these countries if swift and appropriate action is not taken. All countries need access to the vaccines and the international community must make sure the world is better prepared to meet future pandemics. The longer the vaccine inequity persists, the longer the pandemic will circulate in developing countries and continue to wreck social and economic havoc. Droughts, disasters and economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe have hurt it and must be lifted.

The representative of the Maldives, aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China and the Alliance of Small Island States, stressed that the climate crisis is not some distant threat to the Maldives and other small island developing States; it is their reality. He expressed hope countries will set a new collective path to limiting warming to 1.5°C at the upcoming Climate Change conference. This June, his country enacted a ban on the import of some single‑use plastic items to tackle the issue of marine plastic pollution and has promoted sustainable fishing practices by banning the use of trawl nets. However, more coordinated multilateral action is needed to safeguard the ocean ecosystem. On the economic impact of the pandemic, he said travel bans led to Maldives' gross domestic product contracting by more than 30 per cent last year, causing its fiscal deficit to balloon. While welcoming the Group of 20's announcement of a Common Framework for Debt Treatments beyond the Debt Service Suspension Initiative, he called for concessional finance that takes into account the specific vulnerabilities of small island States and advocated for the use of a Multidimensional Vulnerability Index that captures such issues better than gross domestic product.

The representative of Zambia, aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, the African Group and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, pointed out that climate disasters ‑ such as droughts and floods ‑ increased in frequency and intensity over past decades, adversely impacting food and water security, water quality and sustainable livelihoods in rural communities. Detailing his country's national development plan for 2022‑2026, he said that the agriculture sector will be key to the Government's agenda for economic transformation. To this end, the Government will promote crop diversification away from maize through improved extension services, mechanization, irrigation, value addition and market access. These measures, he said, will result in enhanced national food and nutrition security, as well as increased income for farmers.

The representative of the Russian Federation said his country is committed to its international commitments on climate action and is working actively to improve the national legal framework for the implementation of the Paris Agreement. In 2021, his Government adopted the Law on Limitation of Greenhouse Gas Emissions, which provides for the reporting by large companies on their emissions and forms the legal basis for the implementation of climate projects and the circulation of carbon units. This would provide an incentive for Russian organizations to reduce the carbon footprint of their products and services and create conditions for modernizing production facilities through sustainable investments. Also, he said his country is currently working on a programme on climate change, which envisages increased spending on science and creation of green technologies to drastically reduce greenhouse emissions. The overall transition to low‑emission development must be equitable and just, and free from politicization. Welcoming results of the recent high‑level dialogue on energy, he hoped that the voluntary commitments (Energy Compacts) announced as part of the dialogue will be implemented in a timely manner, making a meaningful contribution to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 7. During the preparatory process for the dialogue, the Russian Federation was a global champion for energy access.

The representative of Azerbaijan, aligning herself with the Group of 77 and China, and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, noted that her country provided support to more than 30 countries during the pandemic. As well, in its capacity as Chair of the Non-Aligned Movement, it proposed a number of global initiatives. On a national level, Azerbaijan has approved a new development strategy for the post‑pandemic and post‑war period for 2021‑2030. Further, her country scored top in the region on the Sustainable Development Goals Index in the 2021 report, ranking fifty‑fifth out of 165 countries. Stressing Azerbaijan's goal to increase the share of installed capacities of renewable energy sources by 30 per cent in its total energy balance by 2030, she noted that it has cooperated with UNDP to introduce new standards and technologies regarding energy efficiency. Azerbaijan has also set in its Nationally Determined Contributions a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 35 per cent by 2030 and increase forest area from 11 per cent to 20 per cent.

The representative of Algeria made a statement that could not be understood due to poor audio quality.

The representative of Belarus said her country is seriously committed to implementation of the 2030 Agenda and has incorporated it in its national and program documents. On human development, she noted her country's high-level ranking at fifty-third place. On progress on the Sustainable Development Goals, she said Belarus is ranked 24 out of 165 countries. The effectiveness of the 2030 Agenda depends on each country. In that regard, she said it was unfortunate that levied sanctions on Belarus risk undermining its progress on the Sustainable Development Goals. She called on Member States to respect the interests of States and to take a non‑politicized approach with respect to the Sustainable Development Goals. Belarus' priorities include transitioning to a low‑carbon economy, considering wider use of renewable energy sources, and promoting a circular economy, among others.

The representative of Nigeria, associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, cited environmental impacts across the agrifood value chain and underlined the need for decent work and sustainable livelihood support. "The deployment of technologies for sustainable development must also be accompanied by a range of enabling social, political and institutional factors," he stressed, calling for concerted efforts to tackle the root causes of present‑day development challenges as well as to overcome contemporary "business-as-usual" approaches. Small‑scale producers must have access to inputs, information and finances, he said, adding climate resilient economies that centre inclusive development are crucial to achieving the 2030 Agenda. Drawing attention to Nigeria's National Policy on Population for Sustainable Development, he called upon all countries to seize opportunities for quick economic recovery through inclusive measures and solidarity.

The representative of Brazil observed that agenda topics such as energy, biodiversity, and climate change have a profoundly cross‑cutting nature. In the energy sector, Brazil has been investing heavily in low‑carbon energy sources since the 1970s. Today about 47 per cent of its energy supply and 84 per cent of its electricity come from varied renewable sources, including hydropower, bioenergy, wind and solar, he reported. Furthermore, to address the parallel challenges of preserving biological diversity and promoting the conservation and sustainable use of its natural resources, Brazil adopted one of the strictest environmental laws in the world. As for climate change, boosting climate finance is a fundamental step to be taken if the international community wants to accelerate the 2030 Agenda and build up resilience, he said.

The observer for the Holy See said poverty, discrimination and the exploitation of human beings has prevented the flourishing of millions. The pandemic has disrupted the education of 1 billion children. The international community must create special measures to give children access to education. It is a right that everyone, including the poor, must be able to enjoy. Education is more than the transmission and accumulation of knowledge. It is not a commodity and learners are not clients or consumers. The family and parents are the first educators and are responsible to ensure their families have adequate and holistic education. Education can provide links to climate action by teaching students to care for people and the natural environment. Education through dialogue can make a fundamental contribution to overcoming exclusion and help create a human language of fraternity. The Holy See will continue its commitment to education through its educational system of Catholic schools and universities.

The observer for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said it is encouraging to see Member States developing and implementing disaster risk reduction strategies as well as conducting risk assessments that incorporate pandemic, epidemic and climate risks. Her organization's Disaster Response Emergency Fund is operating in 36 countries and is enacted ahead of 100 small and medium‑sized disasters every year. While most climate‑ and weather‑related hazards strike without warning, she said, over 20 per cent can be predicted. Further, 83 per cent of all natural hazards in the last decade were caused by climate‑ and weather‑related disasters, she pointed out. Citing her organization's Cost of Doing Nothing Report, she added that by 2050, 200 million people could need international humanitarian assistance every year, costing more than $20 billion per year in additional assistance. "If the COVID‑19 pandemic and recent climate and weather events have taught us anything", she said, it is the importance of being prepared, and the central role of law and policy in combatting public health emergencies, preparing for disasters and protecting communities.