Statement by His Excellency Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana At the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
Leaders’ Dialogue 1: “Scaling up Actions on Key Transitions to Accelerate SDG Progress”
September 18-19, 2023 at UN Headquarters, New York
We meet at the mid-point of the implementation of Agenda 2030 in a crisis. Be it food, energy, climate and the destabilising impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the combined effect of these crises has significantly derailed the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. The increased cost of financing, rising debt to GDP and unsustainable balance sheets have placed the developing world in a precarious position.
Just to cite a some examples, according to a recent IDB report, the gap in financing to achieve four critical SDGs for Latin America and the Caribbean, including access to water and sanitation, energy, building infrastructure that promotes sustainable industrialisation and innovation, and making our cities sustainable, would require 2.2 trillion dollars.
Additionally, the debt-to-GDP ratio in the LAC region in 2022 was 117%, and inflation stood at 9.2%. This is the situation of just one region of the world.
Guyana’s expansion of our economy has allowed us to focus heavily on the SDGs. For example, investment per capita in health has increased by 62%, in education by 64%, and security by 153% over a three-year period. But national commitment alone will not be enough to achieve the SDGs, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable. A major part of the problem is the lack of progress with Goal 17 on global partnerships and the failure of the international community to deliver on its commitments.
International financial commitments, be it the 0.7% of Gross National Product for ODA – a commitment made 50 years ago – or the one hundred billion dollars annually under the Paris Agreement to developing countries, among others, have not been met. Additionally, our international financial architecture is out of sync with the needs of developing countries and must be reformed. Developing countries are faced with higher food inflation – 5% higher than the rest of the world in most cases. To compound this, for developing countries, the average interest on external borrowing is three times higher than that of developed countries.
We will not have a world where everyone everywhere enjoys their full human rights, peace and security, and is free from poverty and hunger, unless the right to development is realized and respected.
Guyana believes that significant progress can only be made in achieving the SDGs if national efforts are matched by commitments being fulfilled, and if an international environment is created that fosters progress for all countries. Critical to this, is action on the Bridgetown Initiative, liquidity support, debt sustainability, development funding and governance reforms of international financial institutions.
I thank you.