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SG/SM/20052
20 April 2020

Secretary-General Pledges to Support Island States Mired in Multiple Crises, Calling for Focus on Climate amid Pandemic

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message to the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) Placencia Ambition Forum, held in Belize today:

I am pleased to send greetings to this important gathering.  Currently, all eyes are on the COVID-19 pandemic — the biggest test the world has faced since the Second World War.  We must work together to save lives, ease suffering, lessen the shattering economic and social consequences and bring the disease under control.

But, at the same time, let us not lose focus on climate change.  The recent devastation caused by Cyclone Harold in the South Pacific is yet one more reminder that we are in the midst of a climate crisis.

Such events will only become more regular and deadly unless we act decisively and in concert as an international community.   Now is not the time for retreat.  The social and economic devastation caused by climate disruption will be many times greater than the current pandemic.

By committing now to building back better from the pandemic, we can use the recovery from the effects of COVID-19 to secure a more sustainable and resilient future.  For that, we need ambitious climate action on mitigation, adaptation and finance.

Small island States have traditionally been in the forefront of climate advocacy and action.  We need your voices now more than ever to ensure we keep the promise of the Paris Agreement on climate change to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C.

By coming forward this year with enhanced nationally determined contributions and strategies to reach net‑zero emissions, you will once again lead the way for others to follow on ambitious climate action.

The United Nations stands ready to support you in this.  I continue to stand in solidarity with small island States.  I admire your efforts to climate-proof your economies and lead the way on sustainability.  It is essential that you are supported in your efforts to adapt and build resilience.

I will continue to advocate for debt relief, including for middle-income countries, to enable you to survive both the impacts of COVID-19 and the growing threats of climate change.  Both efforts need solidarity and ambition.

By working closely together we can rescue our planet and build a better world for all people.

For information media. Not an official record.