Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates,
Assalam Alaikum Warahmathullahi Wabarakaathuh,
At the outset, I wish to congratulate Guyana for the assumption of the Chairmanship of the Group of 77 and China.
The founding principles of the Group of 77 are based on upholding the values and spirit of the multilateral system and its institutions, rule of law, and mutual cooperation, especially in the promotion of the collective interests of developing countries and our causes. As we cope with the great challenge of the COVID 19 pandemic, we are reminded of the noble goals of our Group — particularly of the solidarity and cooperation required to recover and build back better.
The socio-economic impact of the pandemic is exceptional. Like the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004, this current disaster has upended life, livelihoods and societies, and slowed economic growth. In the Maldives, our GDP is expected to contract by as much as 30 percent in 2020. The pandemic has also drawn attention to longstanding vulnerabilities of small island developing states, such as the Maldives, to exogenous shocks. But, unlike the 2004 Tsunami, COVID-19 is expected to induce a much deeper recession due to its effects on demand and supply side simultaneously in both developed and developing countries. The projections of its socio-economic impacts are worrisome, as it is expected to intensify poverty and inequality, and derail the progress towards the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.
In the Maldives, a National Taskforce on Resilience and Recovery was constituted to reprioritize our national policies to address the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. We aim to ensure that the development gains we have made over the past decades are not lost, while ensuring development projects proceed as planned without delay. This is an important step in our goal to achieve the 2030 Agenda and ensure no one is left behind.
As we embark on a post-COVID-19 resilient economy, vulnerable countries including SIDS will require alternative financing options to address fiscal liquidity and debt crisis. We appreciate the G20s Debt Service Suspension Initiative. However, economies will still be in recovery next year. We, as a Group, must urge our friends in the G20 to extend their initiative until the end of 2021.
As stated by G77, debt relief support measures and additional financing to developing countries should not be tied to any conditionality. Exploration of structural change and innovative financial instruments, such as debt swap mechanisms, should be encouraged for comprehensive solutions towards debt sustainability.
In order to implement the goals outlined in the SAMOA Pathway, 2030 Agenda, and the Paris Agreement, an international climate finance regime that is aware of the unique burdens and risks facing our countries is needed. It must properly manage risks, taking into account multi-dimensional vulnerability index.
We must call upon financial institutions and development banks to become more flexible in their approach to concessional financing and embrace their role in creating a pathway to sustainable and climate-friendly recovery. In addition, efforts must be increased to remind our partners in the developed world to fulfil their commitment in providing $100 billion per year in climate financing to developing countries. I also commend the extraordinary south-south cooperation of the G77 countries in supporting each other, and extending financial, material, and technical support during this crisis.
Gender equality is a crucial element for the achievement of sustainable development. In the Maldives, we have taken steps in the right direction. We have prioritized empowering women and youth through targeted legislation and programmes. In line with our Domestic Violence Protection act (2012), the Maldives has enhanced the capabilities of our helplines, shelters, and emergency funds for victims and survivors of gender-based violence. We are also running a two-year long nation-wide campaign to combat violence against women and raise awareness. As we mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on the 25th of this month, we must acknowledge that prolonged lockdowns around the world have led to a stark increase in abuse, thus reminding us to further accelerate our efforts to address these horrendous injustices.
The Maldives has passed the Child Rights Protection Act and Juvenile Justice Act, and is additionally drafting a Youth Bill, which will enhance our capacity to identify and ensure the rights, participation, and empowerment of young people. Achieving the 2030 Agenda will require recognizing their contributions, increasing investment in their projects, and including them at all levels of decisions making. We must allow them to build a fairer, more sustainable and inclusive society, where people and nature thrive together.
Mr. Chair, allow me to conclude by reiterating that multilateralism is the key tenet to creating a more just and peaceful world. Our commitment for a robust multilateral system underpins the principles of unity and diversity, as we aim for a resilient recovery that is fully aligned with the 2030 agenda. We must demonstrate this unity through collective actions at all levels and with all stakeholders, leaving no one behind.
I thank you.