The reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a huge protected green area covering around 11 percent of the national territory, is renowned for its mountains and endless biodiversity – some thought unknown – and remains for the mostly inaccessible and unaffected by human activity.
From above, the rainforest canopy was painted countless shades of green, with 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 through the trees in what looked like a landscape painting.
UN News/Laura Quiñones
However, before reaching the protected area, the UN chief could see that Suriname’s forests are seriously threatened by mining activities and timber production, both fueled by incentives to stimulate economic activities. Among the huge green cover, patches of deforestation, destructive gold mining and flooding were hard to miss.
UN News/Laura Quiñones
A moment of “maximum peril”
Although Suriname is part of the South American continent, it is considered a Caribbean nation due to its history, culture, and similar challenges it faces with small island nations.
Later Sunday, the UN chief arrived at the Assuria Events Center in Paramaribo, to attend the opening of the 43rd Conference of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM).
Mr. Guterres’ arrival was greeted with four distinct musical 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, native, Chinese and Javanese descendants performed their traditional dances and folk sounds
From the podium, the Secretary-General highlighted the region’s diversity and leadership on climate action, while outlining a series of steps to take in the face of the global crisis, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the global financial challenges.
“Rich in diversity, uniting land and sea and protecting fragile coastal ecosystems, mangroves are an apt symbol of Caribbean nations – meeting challenges, seizing opportunities, preserving natural gifts,” the chief of the UN to heads of state and government in the region. inspired by his visit to these coastal wonders of carbon sinks in Paramaribo the day before.
Mr. Guterres acknowledged that small island low-lying coastal states in the Caribbean are particularly vulnerable to what he called “the greatest challenge facing our world today” — the climate crisis.
“The Caribbean is ground zero for the global climate emergency,” he said, pointing out that unfortunately this is not the only challenge facing the region.
“This year’s CARICOM summit comes at a time of maximum peril – for people and for the planet,” he added, referring to the devastating effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on systems. health and tourism, as well as on economic growth and foreign investment, now exacerbated by the war in Ukraine.
UN News/Laura Quiñones
The Secretary-General told CARICOM leaders that bold solutions were needed to address these issues, highlighting three.
1. Adapt climate action to the scale and urgency of the crisis
Mr Guterres called for urgent and transformative emissions reductions to stop global warming at 1.5°C, support for adaptation to climate impacts and financial assistance to ensure resilience.
“I thank Caribbean leaders for helping to lead the way. I am inspired by your many efforts to safeguard your incredible biodiversity and natural gifts, including the efforts of indigenous communities,” he said.
He added that more ambition and climate action is needed from allbut especially the G20 which represents 80% of global emissions.
“The war in Ukraine cannot lead to short-sighted decisions that closed the door to 1.5°C. With the commitments currently recorded, emissions are expected to increase by another 14% by 2030. This is simply suicide – and the trend must be reversed.
The UN chief stressed that the wealthiest countries must pave the way for a fair and equitable ‘renewable energy revolution’ and that they must keep their promise to provide $100 billion in climate finance for adaptation from this year.
“And it’s time to have a frank discussion and decision-making space regarding the loss and damage that your countries are already experiencing,” he said.
UN News/Evan Schneider
2. Reform a “morally bankrupt” global financial system and spur a sustainable recovery
The Secretary-General stressed that developing economies need access to free or low-cost finance, as well as debt relief and restructuring.
“On the debt side, we need immediate relief for developing countries whose debt is about to become due,” he said.
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 react and prevent massive vulnerability to external shocks.
“Obviously our old measures failed us. It’s time to change them,” Guterres said, proposing to move beyond the financial system’s preoccupation with per capita income and establish a “multidimensional vulnerability index” to determine access to support. financial.
“For your countries, this would mean ensuring that the complex and interrelated factors of debt and the impact of climate change are taken into account in any analysis of eligibility for debt relief and financing,” said he told the Heads of State and Government of the Caribbean.
3. Continue the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic
The Secretary-General lobbied governments, organizations and pharmaceutical companies work better together to locally produce tests, vaccines and treatments.
“We are not off the hook yet…And we must continue to work closely together to stop the spread of the virus in the Caribbean through proven public health measures and prepare for future pandemics through bold investments. in preparation and training,” he said and stressed that countries must never be so unprepared again.
Finally, Mr. Guterres reaffirmed the support of the United Nations to the Caribbean to work towards these solutions.