– As delivered –

Statement by H.E. Tijjani Muhammad Bande, President of the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly

23 July 2020


Assistant Secretary General Selwin Hart,

Hege Rotingen, Deputy Director, Norweigan Ministry for Foreign Affairs,


Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, I thank the Permanent Mission of Nigeria and partners for organizing this event that is pertinent to the survival of countries in Africa and the Caribbean. A risk informed COVID 19 recovery and rehabilitation is imperative to sustain and improve existing global frameworks.

It is of critical importance that the international community develops robust resilience mechanisms that will serve as bulwark to climate change related disasters as witnessed in Africa and the Caribbean.

I commend all representatives and delegates present today for displaying the unwavering commitment to explore all avenues that will mitigate the environmental and health challenges faced in every part of the world.

Indeed, the COVID 19 pandemic has had intense socioeconomic consequences on all countries with some Member states facing additional climate related disasters. 

Whilst I wish a swift recovery to those currently suffering from COVID-19, I also extend my condolences to those who have lost loved ones to the virus.

This pandemic’s outbreak necessitates the need to strengthen global efforts to address the priorities set out in the sustainable development goals by building back lost grounds. 


As world leaders strategise on how to build back better from COVID, achieving Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, SAMOA Pathway, Paris Agreement on climate change, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, have become more important than ever.

The year 2020 is an important year for achieving all these, it is a super year for nature. This year will witness the expiration of the first wave of SDG targets, a third of which pertain to the health of the environment. 

Unfortunately, many of the events for this historic year have been postponed.

Despite these unforeseen setbacks among several others, the most vulnerable in the society still face specific challenges that further compound the negative impacts of COVID -19. They do not have the luxury to postpone their vulnerability.


It is of critical importance that we maintain momentum towards a green and sustainable future that allows us to live in harmony with nature and achieve prosperity for all.

In the quest to achieve these, the International System has a duty to support the African and Caribbean regions that are the most exposed to climate related disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is essential that disaster risk reduction and resilience building remain at the core of national recovery and rehabilitation efforts. Meanwhile, there is already a shortfall in development finance as the global community is facing the greatest challenge in the 75 years of the United Nations.

But even as the world transits into post COVID-19, the global financial downturn cannot slow our resolve to build back better. Combatting illicit financial flows can also enable greater domestic and international resource mobilization.

I believe that a healthy planet unlocks massive potential for the implementation of the rest of the SDGs, particularly as a pathway to recover from COVID-19 in a green, and sustainable manner.

Tijjani Muhammad Bande

President of the UN General Assembly


The stakes are too high to entertain any pause. We must therefore rely on effective multilateral mechanisms to move forward.

It is high time we embraced nature-based solutions, innovative financing, and cross-sectoral partnerships. These have been identified as effective tools for reducing impacts on both communities and ecosystems.

Taking advantage of a healthy ecosystem’s natural resilience, efforts to manage, conserve or restore natural environments can also help people adapt to climate change.

Simultaneously, we must take strategically calculated and measurable actions to develop multi-hazard disaster risk reduction strategies.

Communities using such approaches would be better insulated from the systemic risk and potential for cascading impacts within and across livelihoods and food systems.


Going forward, our success in the ‘recovery’ post COVID must be judged by how we have supported the most marginalized who are the most at risk and the most vulnerable.

And given the urgency for action, we must embark on these tasks collectively.

We do not have the luxury to focus on one challenge at a time.  Rather, a whole-of-society approach is essential for localizing the 2030 Agenda.

We must realise that it is our decisive vision and action that can change the world.

I therefore call on all stakeholders to form partnerships.

From the peaks to the oceans, global to local action necessitates inclusive partnerships with local authorities, indigenous peoples, women and youth.

By forging these partnerships supported by greater investment, the impact of local action will be evident where it is needed most.


Building back requires ambitious action on fundamental transformations.

Here I refer to development models that entail just transitions to the green economy and energy sectors, traditional knowledge and nature-based solutions, adequate finance, technology and innovation.

Education is also a tool we must apply to shape the change we desire for the future.

We need to start taking an inter-generational approach to strengthening knowledge about the ecology and sustainable development as well as to promote integrated development and livelihoods opportunities.

Let me also add Excellencies, that if we must strengthen the resilience of people and ecosystems in Africa and in SIDS (Small Island Development States) in the face of climate change and natural resource degradation, we must commit to taking urgent action to reduce poverty, vulnerability and exclusion.

The issue of data is also critical to overcoming the losses from COVID-19 and natural disasters.

Consequently, we must link and translate science to policy and strategies at the local and national levels to address ecosystem services, hazards, people’s livelihoods, cultural heritage and tourism.


I believe that a healthy planet unlocks massive potential for the implementation of the rest of the SDGs, particularly as a pathway to recover from COVID-19 in a green, and sustainable manner.

This is evident in the lived experiences of millions around the world.

As such, I am fully convinced that together, we can achieve success in building back these challenges confronting Africa and the Caribbean. 

I am therefore confident that collectively, through creative thinking we can achieve decisive accelerated action and transformative pathways in favour of generations to come.

I know we will rise to this challenge. Indeed, we must.

Thank you.