Solidarity Critical to Addressing Climate Emergency Threatening Very Existence of Small Island States, Secretary-General Tells Latin American, Caribbean Summit

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks to the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) summit, in Kingstown today:

It is a great pleasure to join you for this summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean countries.  And to do so to pay tribute to this continent of peace in a world at war.

And I am particularly happy to do so — here in Saint Vincent, land so beautiful, as the national anthem just demonstrated.

Prime Minister [Ralph] Gonsalves, thank you for your warm welcome and hospitality, and congratulations to your country for steering CELAC over the past year.  I also want to congratulate Honduras as the incoming President of CELAC.

Just a few years ago, the people of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines were the victims of the devastating volcanic eruption of La Soufrière.

This country faced profound disruptions — but the world also saw your resilience and solidarity.  We saw neighbours helping neighbours — and the region coming together for support.  We need that spirit more than ever, today and everywhere.

As you come together to help foster solutions — for the region and for the world — I would like to highlight four areas in particular.

First, we need solidarity for peace and security.

Latin America and the Caribbean have shown how uniting for peace is possible — and makes a difference.  We have just witnessed it today.

The peace process in Colombia has made significant strides, with invaluable contributions from CELAC countries.

The joint declaration for dialogue and peace between Guyana and Venezuela, adopted here in Argyle last December, is another example of the region’s commitment to seek peaceful solutions, and I commend your efforts.

Yet, both cases also underscore that implementation requires sustained efforts.

And we also know that peace is far more than the absence of armed conflict.

Today, violent and organized crime continue to plague many countries.

Arms trafficking has become the most important security threat to the region.  It will not be possible to fight it effectively without much stronger international cooperation — from the source to the streets.

Ecuador is the most recent example of how the security situation can quickly deteriorate and spiral into violence.

I welcome the new security partnership launched in January by the Andean Community.

In Guatemala, the new Government offers a chance to advance democratic development, the rule of law and other key aspects of the peace agenda.

In Haiti, an already dire situation is sadly getting worse by the day.  Gangs are holding the country hostage and using sexual violence as a weapon.  Meanwhile, the UN Humanitarian Response Plan for Haiti needs solid financial support.

Last week in Rio de Janeiro, several countries — including CELAC members — made additional pledges to the Multinational Security Support mission.  I welcome these efforts, but much more must be done to secure the deployment of this mission without further delay, and a political solution that could resolve the country's fundamental problems.

Second, we need solidarity for sustainable development.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are slipping away.

Millions of people in the region are facing poverty and hunger.

I welcome your recent Plan for Food Security and Nutrition and the Eradication of Hunger by 2030.  But that requires funding — and many countries are already drowning in debt.

The global financial system is failing to provide affordable long-term finance to countries in need and to offer a global financial safety net.

Small island developing States have been particularly hit.

Middle-income countries are also not getting the help they need.

Despite their vulnerabilities, they are not receiving the benefits of critical debt relief and concessional funding.  This must change.  That shows the importance of the adoption of the vulnerability index.

Last September, world leaders endorsed our proposed SDG Stimulus of $500 billion per year in affordable, long-term finance for developing countries.

The Stimulus also calls for a debt lifeline to give countries breathing room and the expansion of contingency financing for countries in need.  Unfortunately, the resistance has been severe, and so it is important that the Summit of the Future becomes a vital opportunity to make progress in reforming a global financial architecture that is unfair, outdated and ineffective.

I look forward to your active engagement for change for a new Bretton Woods moment, and I count on Brazil’s leadership as Chair of the G20.

Third, we need solidarity for social cohesion.

Around the world, authoritarianism and extremism are growing.

Democracy and civic space are eroding.

Disinformation and hate speech are supercharged by new technologies and growing inequalities are feeding people’s fears.

Irregular migration has become a political tool to sow division and it is extremely important to address all the root causes that has transformed this into a major problem for this continent.

I am calling for a renewed social contract, based on trust, justice and inclusion and anchored in human rights — in all its dimensions.

Leaders have a responsibility:  To invest in social cohesion.  To end violence and discrimination.  To uphold the rights of Afro-descendent and Indigenous Peoples — and ensure that every community feels represented and included.  To guarantee women’s full participation and leadership. And to amplify young voices.

Fourth and finally, we need solidarity to address the climate emergency — which is threatening the very existence of small island developing states.

Extreme events are hitting with increasing ferocity.

All countries must commit to new economy-wide nationally determined contributions by 2025 that align with limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C.

These plans should serve as both transition and investment plans.

G20 countries — responsible for 80 per cent of global emissions — have a special responsibility to lead these efforts.  And they must lead a just global phase-out of fossil fuel and accelerate a just and equitable transition to renewables.

I know many of your countries have pioneered decentralized renewable energy.  But you need support.

We need developed countries to deliver climate justice by: Ensuring significant and meaningful funding for the loss and damage fund, which has been created but is not sufficiently funded; clarifying delivery of the $100 billion commitment; and doubling adaptation finance to at least $40 billion a year by 2025, which barely covers a portion of the needs.

It is also high time for the recapitalization of multilateral development banks and a change in their business model, so that they can scale up mitigation and adaptation investments in your countries and mobilize financing much more massively as well as private investments.

I commend CELAC for creating a Climate Adaptation and Comprehensive Response to Natural Disasters Fund — with the support of the United Nations and regional development banks.  And I welcome Brazil’s commitment to bring climate and finance discussions together as G20 President.

The upcoming Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States in Antigua and Barbuda in May is also another important opportunity.

We know that a low-carbon future requires far more critical minerals, but we must make sure the production and trade of those minerals are just, sustainable and provide added value and productive jobs in the countries supplying these raw materials.

I am creating a new UN panel to help ensure just that.

And finally, as we prepare for sixteenth UN Conference of the Parties on Biodiversity in Colombia in December, we have a chance to strengthen biodiversity conservation measures in the region, recognizing the unique ecosystems and natural heritage of this beautiful region.

I am encouraged by recent regional initiatives such as the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization.

Solidarity and cooperation are at the heart of your region’s vibrant history — and of the mission of CELAC.

From your seats in the Security Council […] to the presidencies of the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and the G20, I urge you to be bold — for peace, prosperity and planet.

You can count on my full support.

I thank you and wish you a successful meeting.

For information media. Not an official record.