Illustrative photo by: UN News/Laura Quiñones
On the last day of his visit to Suriname, António Guterres began his activities in a small plane and ended on a podium. A 90-minute flight from Paramaribo to the Central Suriname Conservation Area revealed to him the breathtaking beauty of the Amazon, but also the threats the rainforest faces from deforestation and climate change.
The Central Suriname Nature Reserve, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, is a vast protected green area covering around 11% of the national territory, known for its plateau and mountains infinite biodiversity that is believed to have not yet been fully discovered. Additionally, these mountains remain largely inaccessible and untouched by human activity.
A moment of maximum danger
Although located in South America, Suriname is considered a Caribbean country due to its history, culture, and challenges similar to those of small island nations.
After flying over the reserve, António Guterres arrived at the Assuria Events Center in Paramaribo to attend the opening of the 43rd Caribbean Community Conference (CARICOM). The short walk showcased Suriname’s unique ethnic diversity, a product of its long history and Dutch colonization. Afro-Surinamese, East Indian, Indigenous, Chinese, and Javanese descent They presented their traditional dances and folk music.
For his part, the Secretary-General at the microphone emphasized that Leadership in diversity and climate protection in the regionwhile outlining a series of actions to be taken in light of the global crisis, the current COVID-19 pandemic and global financial challenges.
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“Rich in diversity, as a bridge between land and sea and to protect delicate coastal ecosystems, Mangroves are an appropriate symbol of the Caribbean nations: They face challenges, seize opportunities, preserve their natural gifts,” Guterres told region leaders, inspired by his visit to the low-carbon coastal wonderland of Paramaribo the day before.
The UN leader acknowledged that the small island and coastal nations of the Caribbean are particularly vulnerable to what he “the greatest challenge of our world”: The climate crisis.
“The Caribbean is ground zero of the global climate emergency‘ he said, regretting that this is not the only challenge facing the region.
“This year’s CARICOM Summit comes at a time of greatest peril, both for people and for the planet,” he added, referring to the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in healthcare systems and tourism, and in economic growth and foreign investment, an area where the impact has been exacerbated by the war in Ukraine.
The Secretary-General argued before CARICOM leaders that bold solutions were needed to address the issues he was highlighting the three most urgent
Finally, the Secretary-General called on governments, organizations and pharmaceutical companies to work better together produce tests, vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 locally.
“We’re not over the hill yet… And we must continue to work closely together to halt the spread of the virus in the Caribbean through proven public health measures.” We must also Prepare for future pandemics with bold investments and education‘ he said, warning that countries must never be so unprepared again.
Finally, António Guterres reiterated the United Nations’ support to the Caribbean to work towards these solutions.
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