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Caribbean vital to tackling COVID-19, climate change, UN chief tells regional leaders

António Guterres was addressing a virtual meeting of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), where he praised countries for their leadership during the crisis, even as they confront shocks to their economies, tourism sector, trade and remittances. 

“Your unique voice is vital as we tackle shared threats such as climate change, citizen insecurity and the COVID-19 pandemic that expose deep and systemic inequalities,” he said. 

Devastating regional impacts 

The UN chief stated that the pandemic’s socioeconomic impacts have been worse than the virus itself for some developing economies, including the Caribbean. 

He highlighted his push for a relief package equivalent to at least 10 per cent of the global economy, as well as an appeal for debt relief. 

 “As you have long advocated, the world must look beyond incomes and factor in the vulnerabilities of countries. The private sector, including the credit rating agencies, also must be engaged in relief efforts”, he said. 

A strong moral voice 

Mr. Guterres also underlined his solidarity with CARICOM members in addressing climate change. 

“Your leadership and moral voice on the front lines is crucial for charting a recovery that will accelerate the decarbonization of the global economy and build a more inclusive and resilient future,” he said. 

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The Secretary-General emphasized his full support for the Caribbean vision of becoming the first fully climate-resilient region in the world.   

However, he noted the “significant barriers” countries face, including for access to climate finance.   

UN stepping up support 

Turning to sustainable development, Mr. Guterres reported that the UN system is ramping up support for the Caribbean and all small island developing states. 

“We are putting our best capacities and resources to support your voice and participation in global governance processes, to provide sound policy advice and help broker the partnerships that will facilitate your continued progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals,” he said. 

“This includes expanding and reconfiguring as necessary our physical presence and ensuring tailored support to every country in the Caribbean.” 

The Secretary-General also thanked CARICOM for highlighting the crucial issue of advancing gender parity, and its unwavering support for multilateralism.

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