Lord Ahmad, Secretary General Scotland, Excellencies – Good afternoon.
I thank the Permanent Missions of Fiji, Rwanda, the United Kingdom, and the Commonwealth Secretariat for organizing this meeting. I thank the panelists for sharing their valuable insights.
Bangladesh, a climate vulnerable country, is facing multiple shocks due to the pandemic. For supporting our critical sectors and the most vulnerable people, we have announced a 12.1-billion-dollar stimulus package. Our national budget, which was launched last month, has factored in Covid-19 impacts, and included a Climate Budget to foster sustainable recovery.
Allow me to share some thoughts in this regard from our national perspectives on Covid response and recovery:
First, we believe that Covid-19 recovery measures should complement climate actions to create stronger resilience against any future shock or calamities. The pandemic is proving to be a double blow for climate vulnerable countries. Development partners, as well as multilateral donors and the private sector must come forward to support national efforts, especially of the most vulnerable countries by providing additional financial and technological support.
Secondly, we need to strengthen cooperation to facilitate the exchange of knowledge, experiences and best practices and find innovative solutions to address the crisis. We offer to share our best practices in the areas of implementation of NDCs, and other innovative practices to tackle climate induced disasters which also carries important lessons for dealing with the pandemic.
Bangladesh has recently taken over the Presidency of the 48-member Climate Vulnerability Forum and the V-20 Forum; and in that capacity we will engage with all stakeholders for resilience building, against all forms of emergencies, whether it be climate or health emergencies, given their inter-linkages in terms of exacerbating pre-existing vulnerabilities.
Thirdly, I reiterate the urgent need to strengthen the health infrastructures of our countries. The pandemic showed how woefully unprepared we were in dealing with the pandemic. I was at the vaccines meeting this morning, and we recognized that alongside ensuring UHC, we need to ensure universal coverage of vaccines. And this would mean affordability, accessibility, and availability of the vaccines, especially in tackling the pandemic.
Fourthly, international financial frameworks need to relegate traditional cost-benefit analysis and come up with new dispensations for quickly addressing volatility, strategically positioning assets, and financial and operational feasibility across the business. Special drawing rights, debt relief, etc. would be critical in this regard. [And I strongly endorse Amb. Hawke’s call for keeping global trade and supply chains open during the pandemic.]
Fifth, the special needs of LDCs and other vulnerable countries for reviving their critical sectors such as export, remittances, health, and education have to be prioritized. It is also critical to have separate stimulus packages and innovative support measures for the graduating LDCs.
Sixth, we need collaborative efforts to tackle multidimensional challenges faced by migrant workers and migrant sending developing countries. That includes a large number of Commonwealth countries as well, due to the pandemic. Remittances which account for an important source of external finance for these countries, has seen a sharp drop in the pandemic.
Finally, we must leverage science, technology, and innovation for closing the digital divide and fostering inclusive growth, in critical areas of SDGs implementation impacted by Covid-19, including in health, education, job creation, agriculture, and climate vulnerabilities.
Historically, major crises often created space for radical reforms. We should be able to utilize this pandemic as such to trigger a resilient and inclusive recovery. The Commonwealth can play a crucial role in this journey. It can leverage its strength of its diverse membership to rally support for building on our shared commitments including for the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda.
I thank you.