President Dr Irfaan Ali has called on global leaders to address the disparity and inequalities between developed and developing nations in the battle against climate change.
Dr. Ali said climate issues cannot be solved unless the fundamental needs of humans are addressed.
The Head of State joined thousands of Guyanese from various organisations in the ‘green walk’ from the Umana Yana to the National Park on Sunday, under the theme: “Celebrating One Earth as One Guyana”, to mark World Environment Day.
“We cannot have one world and one planet if we have such great inequality that exists in our world. We cannot have one world and one planet when more than 68 per cent of our population is projected to live in urban centers, the stress that would put on small land areas would be enormous and just not sustainable but this is the reality of the world we live in today,” President Ali declared in his address to the large crowd.
The President said one in three persons does not have access to safe drinking water because of lack of resources and revenues in developing countries. Another three billion lack basic hand washing facilities, 4.2 billion do not have safe sanitation facilities, while 2.2 billion cannot access water from a safely managed facility.
Some 20% of the global population have no access to adequate housing, one billion live in slums, and more than half the world population live on less than US $5 per day.
“We cannot even speak about climate change, if we have people who are hungry, people who don’t have access to water, people who don’t have access to wages and earnings then they have no other alternative but to seek out every possible way to survive.
“Regardless of how big a country you are from, or how small a country you are from or how poor a country you are from, this is an issue that confronts us all and unless every single global citizen is willing and ready to make the necessary changes then unfortunately, we will not and cannot have the results that will secure our one planet.”
Dr. Ali said there cannot be “one world and one planet” when more than half the population is without water and food security.
The developed world has been consistently called upon to stay true to the climate finance pledge.
Over 10 years ago, developed countries had promised to ensure $100 billion a year by 2020 to help poor countries address the worst impacts of global warming, and invest in green energy sources. However, most developed countries have failed to meet the target.
“That is why we are pursuing a growth and a development path that is carved under the low carbon development strategy, where we are seeking to strike the balance, where we are seeking to ensure the sustainability is built on economic viability, sustainability is built on environmental sustainability, sustainability is built on reducing inequality and disparity and bringing balanced growth and equitable growth to the people on one Guyana,” President Ali said.
The President said global inequality has tripled and developing economies are the hardest hit.
Dr. Ali said it is time for less talk and more action from leaders of developed countries.
“Let us stop standing in big conference rooms and conference centers, and address the real issues, issues of survival, if we are really to pursue the one planet and ensure that we do so in a sustainable manner.”
Meanwhile, the President called on Guyanese to also “change our style and our culture in the way we treat the environment.”
He said individual responsibility must be taken to treat the environment in a more respectable way, “if we recommit to pursue a path in which we would see littering as a sin and an injury to humanity then we will be able to make an individual change and when we make those individual changes, we will be able to pursue collective action, and it is collective action that will be able to create a national movement that can move the international community.”
The Head of State also planted a Mahogany tree in the National Park which was brought from Barbados before witnessing the unveiling of a mural by the United Nations and visited booths of exhibitors at the World Environment Day event.