THE COVID-19 pandemic has already decelerated progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), has reversed many development gains, and the ‘uneven’ global response has not made attaining those goals any better, President Dr. Irfaan Ali said in his pre-recorded video address during the 76th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York.
The Sustainable Development Goals or Global Goals, according to the United Nations (UN), are a collection of 17 interlinked global goals designed to be a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. The SDGs were set up in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly and are intended to be achieved by the year 2030.
Even prior to the pandemic, President Ali said the drive to attaining those goals was “slothful and lagging.” To this end, he said that the “uneven global” response to the pandemic has not helped.
In order to temper this and to avert the adverse consequences of a two-tier recovery while preparing for future exogenous shocks, the President said: “[There must be greater attention on] strengthening resilience, particularly for the most vulnerable countries, like Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Low-lying Coastal Developing States. This will require debt rescheduling, increased access to soft resources and increased financing for climate adaptation.”
GUYANA’S SDGs INITIATIVES
Guyana, President Ali said, will not leave any country behind. He said that since the country is a “pluralist society” with six ethnic groups and a kaleidoscope of cultures, his government is determined to take an even-handed and inclusive approach to policymaking.
The Head of State also used the opportunity to update the summit on the various initiatives that the government has since embarked on to further the achievement of the SDGs.
Those initiatives included spearheading the CARICOM Agri-Food Systems agenda, which prioritises food security and nutrition while guiding growth through a Low Carbon Development Strategy. This simultaneously facilitates sustainable economic development while mitigating the effects of climate change.
The President also noted that since the pandemic has engendered learning loss, the government is providing tangible support for learning from nursery to tertiary levels.
This support includes the provision of 20,000 online scholarships to universities around the world for vocational, undergraduate and post-graduate studies, intensifying digital learning and the preparation for free university education by 2025.
“Guyana welcomes the convening of the SDG Moment in order to explore best practices, lessons and opportunities for a resilient post-COVID recovery and ensuring the global community’s commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” President Ali said.
He reaffirmed Guyana’s commitment to advancing the UNGA’s SDGs, noting that his government would strive through aggressive advocacy to ensure that Agenda 2030 remains the primary guiding framework.
The President also related that the country is committed to presenting its second Voluntary National Review in the Decade of Action to realise the SDGs by 2030. He used the opportunity to implore the international community to stay focused on achieving the agenda’s targets and objectives.
“Agenda 2030 represents a framework for sustainable, inclusive and equitable development,” President Ali related.