Ambassador Akram calls for combating rising poverty, hunger

Web DeskWeb Editor

17th Jul, 2021. 02:17 pm

UNITED NATIONS: United Nations Economic and Social Council’s President Ambassador Munir Akram of Pakistan has urged the world community to unite to combat rising poverty and hunger through measures that include social protection and relief programmes at the commemoration of ECOSOC’s 75th anniversary on Friday.

“Scaled-up investment in sustainable infrastructure, an estimated requirement of $1 trillion/annum, is essential also for the transition to a dynamic ‘green’ global economy,” he said in his closing address to the high-level event, while also calling for action plans for job creation in the sectors such as construction, renewable energy, transport and housing.

Underlining that the coronavirus pandemic unfolded during the 54-member council’s anniversary year, Ambassador Akram recalled how it responded to the crisis, and climate and development challenges, including through drawing attention to the special needs of the world’s least developed nations, while underscoring the need for making Covid vaccine available for all.

“This has been a period when the international community faced a ‘perfect storm’ of economic and development challenges,” he said, adding: “Indeed confronted by what my Prime Minister [Imran Khan] has called this ‘triple crisis’ – Covid, climate, and development – the ECOSOC, and indeed the UN system as a whole, have demonstrated their indispensable role,” the Pakistani envoy said.

Wrapping up the session, Ambassador Akram said that ensuring Covid-19 vaccines for all was a critical factor if the world is to defeat the pandemic, pointing out the virus has taken four million lives and shattered the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people.

The ECOSOC chief urged the countries to build on convergence and consensus achieved to confront major tasks ahead, starting with ensuring everyone, everywhere, is protected against the virus.

“Universal and affordable access to Covid-19 vaccines is essential to defeat the virus and to revive global trade, investment and growth. We have agreed on what needs to be done. We must now do it,” he said.

Friday’s meeting was held one day after the conclusion of its annual High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) to review the progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The developing countries will need $4.3 trillion to recover from the triple crises and to realise the 17 goals by 2030.

Ambassador Akram welcomed plans to create $650 billion in Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), a type of reserve foreign asset developed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), among other debt relief initiatives.

On climate change, he highlighted the critical need for the developed countries to fulfill their commitment to provide $100 billion annually in climate finance.

Ambassador Akram also stressed the need to mobilise the political will to address structural and systemic barriers to equitable growth and development, namely unequal financial, tax and trade regimes.

The major tasks ahead also include new financing mechanisms, such as the “FACE” Fund, proposed by Costa Rica, and the liquidity and sustainability facility proposed by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) would be welcome.

The fulfillment of the commitment made by the developed countries to provide $100 billion/annum in climate finance is critical.

Access to advanced technologies and innovations, especially digital technologies, must be liberalised drastically, he said.

Ambassador Akram expressed his appreciation to all for their cooperation, and forbearance, in enabling him to conduct the functions of the ECOSOC Presidency during the last year, and wished every success to his successor on addressing the many challenges that lie ahead.

He also presided over the council’s commemorative meeting in which many ministers from around the world, including Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, took part. The event took place as Pakistan’s Presidency of the Council is coming to an end.

Ambassador Akram was elected last year for the second time to head ECOSOC, which is the third principal organ of the UN, along with the General Assembly and Security Council.

He last served in that capacity in 2005. The only other ambassador to have had this distinction was Juan Somavia of Chile, the former director-general of the International Labour Organization.

ECOSOC was established in 1945 under the UN Charter to promote international economic cooperation and oversee the work of all international economic organisations. Pakistan has been elected as ECOSOC president six times.

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