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Caribbean Countries Urge ‘Articulated Response’ To COVID-19

SANTIAGO, Chile (CMC) — The Economic Commission for Latin American and Caribbean (ECLAC) says regional countries have reaffirmed their commitment to sustainable development and called for an “articulated response” at all levels to halt and counteract the profound effects that the region will experience due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

ECLAC noted that COVID-19 does not distinguish between borders, ideologies or development levels.

Cuba’s Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment, Rodrigo Malmierca, in his capacity as chair of ECLAC’s Committee of the Whole, participated in a segment entitled “Regional Forums: Key Messages,” held in the framework of the UN’s High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development 2020.

In his remarks, Malmierca warned that achievement of the UN’s 2030 Agenda is at risk, stating that only a few targets have been met or are close to being met, and that accomplishing the rest will necessitate “greater policy intervention and the transformation of current development models”.

He said that the current situation has become more complex due to the “multisectoral impact prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which requires countries to take urgent action to avoid delays or rollbacks in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their targets, and to strengthen positive trends in their implementation.

“The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean face these challenges from a disadvantageous position due to the region’s poor economic performance in recent years, and to the growing levels of indebtedness acquired,” Malmierca said.

“The region has a sharper deceleration in its economic growth than other regions and a historical performance that is inferior to that of the last seven decades,” he added.

ECLAC forecasts a 9.1 per cent fall in the region’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020, “which is the worst decline in history,” Malmierca warned.

He called for fostering “a space of collaboration and mutual support, sharing problems and challenges that they have, as a result of COVID-19, to be able to achieve joint work, at a regional level, that would allow for responding to the urgencies faced by the Caribbean population”.

The Cuban minister said that more than ever, regional countries continue to bet on “renewed and strengthened multilateralism, discouraging extreme protectionist or nationalist stances, rejecting the adoption of unilateral coercive measures that violate the norms and principles of international law, enshrined in the United Nations Charter, and that undermine the consensus and joint efforts of our countries to overcome this humanitarian crisis and its effects, and to move towards sustainable development.”

Malmierca said that, in order to ensure a decade of action and transformation for achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in the current circumstances, “it is imperative that measures be taken to strengthen financial, monetary and fiscal systems.”

In addition, he urged that measures be adopted to bolster social protection systems and carry out preventive actions for “adaptation and mitigation of the environmental emergency, without neglecting the diverse needs and challenges that countries in special situations face – in particular, the least advanced countries, landlocked developing countries and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) – or the specific challenges confronted by middle-income countries.

“We demand that they get fair, special and differentiated treatment that guarantees that no one will be left behind,” Malmierca said, emphasising that “this moment in time and common sense demand that the international community set aside political differences and, together, seek solutions through international cooperation and solidarity in an environment of respect for sovereignty and countries’ self-determination.

“We must identify our potentialities and work with greater agility and flexibility to identify opportunities, joint projects and the exchange of successful experiences, taking advantage of the region’s vast experience to carry out initiatives through South-South and triangular cooperation,” he affirmed.

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