“Clearly, our old metrics have failed us. It’s time to change them,” Mr. Guterres said, proposing to move beyond the financial system’s preoccupation with per capita income, and establishing a ‘multidimensional vulnerability index’ to determine access to financial support.
Although Suriname is part of the South American continent, it is considered a Caribbean nation due to its history, culture, and the similar challenges it faces with the small island nations.
A moment of ‘maximum peril’
“And it is time for a frank discussion and space for decision-making regarding the loss and damage that your countries are already experiencing,” he emphasised.
However, before reaching the protected area, the UN chief could see that Suriname’s forests are seriously threatened by the activities of the mining sector and timber production, both fuelled by incentives to boost economic activities. Among the immense green cover, patches of deforestation, destructive gold mining and flooding were difficult to miss.
From above, the rainforest canopy was painted with countless shades of green, with some treetops covered in waves of orange or even purple flowers. Along the way, the mighty Coppename River, as well as the upstream parts of the Lucie, Saramacca, and Suriname Rivers flowed by the trees in what looked like a landscape painting.
UN News/Laura Quiñones
“We’re not out of the woods yet… And we need to continue working closely together to stop the spread of the virus across the Caribbean through proven public health measures and prepare for future pandemics through bold investments in preparedness and training,” he stated, and stressed that countries must never again be so unprepared.
“On the debt side, we need immediate relief for developing countries whose debt is about to become due,” he said.
The Secretary General underlined that developing economies need access to financing at no or low costs, as well as debt relief and restructuring.
Mr. Guterres’s arrival was met with four distinct music and cultural performances. The short walk showcased Suriname’s unique ethnic diversity, a product of its long history and Dutch colonization. Afro-Surinamese, East Indian, Indigenous natives, Chinese and Javanese descendants presented their traditional dances and folkloric sounds
1. Matching climate action to the scale and urgency of the crisis
Finally, Mr. Guterres reaffirmed the support of the United Nations to the Caribbean to work towards these solutions.
The UN chief added that he fully supports the creation of a Caribbean Resilience Fund and the reform of the international financial system to help the region better respond and prevent massive vulnerability to external shocks.
“Rich in diversity, uniting land and sea, and protecting fragile coastal ecosystems, mangroves are a fitting symbol of Caribbean nations – facing challenges, seizing opportunities, preserving natural gifts,” the UN chief told the region’s Heads of State and Government on Sunday, inspired by his isit to these coastal carbon-sink wonders in Paramaribo a day before.
Later on Sunday, the UN chief arrived at the Assuria Event Centre in Paramaribo, to attend the opening of the 43rd Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) Conference.
2. Reforming ‘a morally bankrupt’ global financial system and spur sustainable recovery
The Secretary-General made a push for governments, organizations and pharmaceutical companies to work better together to locally produce tests, vaccines and treatments.
“I thank Caribbean leaders for helping to show the way. I am inspired by your many efforts to safeguard your incredible biodiversity and natural gifts, including by the efforts of the indigenous communities,” he said.
Mr. Guterres called for urgent and transformative emissions reduction to halt global warming at a 1.5C, support for adaptation from climate impacts, and financial assistance to secure resilience.
3. Keep up the combat against the COVID-19 pandemic
The Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an immense green protected area covering around 11 percent of the national territory, is recognized for its tabletop mountains and endless biodiversity – some believed to be undiscovered – and remains for the most part inaccessible and unaffected by human activity.
The UN chief stressed that wealthier countries need to lead the way in a just and equitable “ renewables revolution ”, and they need to fulfil their promise to deliver 0 billion in climate finance for adaptation starting this year.
The Secretary-General told the CARICOM leaders that bold solutions were necessary to tackle these issues, highlighting three.