Beira

12 July 2019

Transcript of the Secretary-General’s remarks at press stakeout in Beira [Scroll down for English translation]

Tal como tive ocasião de dizer ontem ao senhor presidente da República, esta é sobretudo uma visita de solidariedade para com o povo moçambicano, que foi vítima de uma devastação inédita na história com um terrível impacto e destruição física e outro impacto no sofrimento humano dos moçambicanos.

E ao mesmo tempo, quero prestar homenagem ao povo moçambicano e às autoridades moçambicanas pela rapidez na resposta e pela enorme coragem que demonstraram, fazendo face a esta tragédia e pela resistência que revelam ao lançar-se, desde o princípio, na reconstrução, não só física das casas, das propriedades, mas na reconstrução das suas próprias vidas.

Agora, os moçambicanos sozinhos não poderão vencer esta batalha. Houve uma importante solidariedade internacional. As Nações Unidas, em particular, estiveram desde a primeira hora com o povo moçambicano. Mas esta solidariedade não é suficiente, mesmo tendo em conta a conferência de doadores que foi feita, a verdade é que os fundos postos à disposição de Moçambique, só por si, não chegam para o volume gigantesco da reconstrução que tem de ser feito. E é por isso necessário que aumente a solidariedade internacional e que aquilo que foi prometido seja também rapidamente desembolsado.

Por outro lado, se é verdade que sempre houve ciclones, é verdade que estes tiveram uma frequência e uma dimensão com consequências humanitárias inéditas. E isso tem a ver com alterações climáticas.

Eu estou neste momento a preparar uma conferência mundial, que acontecerá em Setembro nas Nações Unidas, e esta é a terceira visita de terreno que faço na preparação desta cimeira.

Estive nas ilhas do Pacifico, em particular em Tuvalu. Tuvalu não contribui para o aquecimento global, mas Tuvalu vê a sua existência própria ameaçada com a subida do nível das águas do mar, que podem fazer desaparecer o país.

Estive depois nas Caraíbas, nas pequenas ilhas das Caraíbas, onde tive ocasião há dois anos de verificar o impacto e a destruição absolutamente brutal de Antígua, de Barbuda e de Dominica. E, uma vez mais, as ilhas das Caraíbas não contribuem para o aquecimento global, mas estão na primeira linha da destruição que o aquecimento global está a causar no mundo.

E a terceira visita é agora a Moçambique, centrada na cidade da Beira. Uma vez mais, Moçambique não contribui para o aquecimento global. A economia moçambicana é, infelizmente, ainda uma economia muito reduzida. Mas Moçambique é o segundo país do mundo mais vulnerável em relação às consequências das alterações climáticas. E está à vista, exatamente, o significado destas palavras. E, por isso, daqui, quero mandar uma mensagem muito clara para os países que são responsáveis pelo nível de emissões que causam estas alterações climáticas, para lhes dizer que é preciso inverter a presente tendência, que as alterações climáticas estão a correr ainda de forma mais rápida do que nós.

É preciso que na próxima cimeira se assuma o compromisso de não deixar o aquecimento global ir além do 1.5º C no final do século, é preciso que se assuma o compromisso da neutralidade em carbono em 2050, e é preciso que os Estados em 2020 renovem os seus compromissos com muito mais ambição, quer em termos de mitigação das emissões, quer em termos de mitigação, quer em termos de financiamento ao mundo em desenvolvimento, por forma a que seja possível alcançar os objetivos que referi. 

Mas isso implica profundas transformações, que exigem uma forte vontade política em relação à produção agrícola, em relação à produção industrial, em relação à energia, em relação à vida na cidade, em relação à mobilidade humana. E por isso é necessário que se tomem medidas fortes. E tenho pedido aos países, com insistência, que se desvie impostos dos impostos sobre rendimento das pessoas, em particular sobre os salários, para um imposto sobre o carbono, o que mata dois coelhos com uma cajadada, uma vez que, por um lado, facilita a criação de postos de trabalho e por outro lado penaliza aqueles que contribuem para as alterações climáticas. 
  
Por isso, tenho dito que é preciso parar os subsídios aos combustíveis fósseis. Esses subsídios são pagos com o dinheiro dos contribuintes. Se eu sou contribuinte, eu não quero que o meu dinheiro sirva para estimular a ação de ciclones como aquele que devastou Moçambique. 

É preciso parar a construção de novas centrais elétricas a carvão a partir de 2020, é preciso um compromisso forte de todos os Estados para pormos fim a esta ameaça, que é a ameaça mais importante que existe hoje ao planeta, mas não apenas ao planeta, também às pessoas. 

E o exemplo de Moçambique deve ser para todos um alerta, e um alerta que deve obrigar à ação. 

Q: [Question about what is needed to rebuild the areas devastated by the cyclones]

Secretary-General: We will be in very close contact with these international financial institutions, and with donor countries, drawing the attention to the fact that the humanitarian appeal was only answered at 40%; and that the donor conference, confronted with the request by the state of Mozambique of 3.2 billion US dollars for reconstruction. The conference, - it was a success, in relative terms - only managed to mobilize 1.2 [billion] in commitments, which means that we need more solidarity and I will be in very close contact with the donor community, with international financial institutions, to remind them that most of the needs [require] increased support. And we know that sometimes when a catastrophic situation is forgotten, international solidarity decreases. Now we have no cyclone, but the problem is still here. International solidarity needs to be maintained and needs to be increased. 

Q: Visitou o centro de reassentamento. Gostava de perceber como é que o senhor ficou com aquilo que viu lá? E em segundo [lugar], como é que as Nações Unidas poderão assegurar o acesso universal para a saúde, os serviços de saúde para aquela população vulnerável. 

Secretary-General: As Nações Unidas não podem substituir o Estado moçambicano. Não são as Nações Unidas que vão providenciar educação, saúde, obras públicas. Isso é o Estado moçambicano. As Nações Unidas podem apoiar o estado moçambicano. É evidente que o que nós vimos hoje foi um assentamento no seu início. Eu tenho a experiência de alto comissário das Nações Unidas para os Refugiados. E vi nascer muitos campos de refugiados. Não tem nada a ver com esta situação, mas no principio tinham abrigo, tinham algumas pequenas infraestruturas e depois, progressivamente, instalaram centros de saúde, instalaram escolas, instalaram-se as coisas necessárias para a vida daquela comunidade. Aqui não há refugiados, é a própria população de Moçambique. E por isso estou seguro que, progressivamente, se irá investindo, e nós apoiaremos esse investimento, em relação à educação, à saúde, mas também em relação às outras formas de bem-estar dessas populações. 

Mas devo dizer que fiquei já impressionado com o que vi. E o que vi foi uma enorme coragem e uma determinação daquelas populações. Vi gente já a semear e a plantar. Ainda sem casa, já estão a semear, já estão a plantar. Já estão a querer construir o seu futuro e estou certo de que o governo tudo fará para os ajudar, e nós estaremos do lado do governo para apoiar a criação das progressivas infraestruturas que são necessárias para restabelecer uma vida normal. 

Q: What is the lasting impact of this disaster?

Secretary-General: What is clear is that we need much more ambition, both in mitigation, reducing emissions, and with depth, reducing the impact of future cyclones. But we also need to invest in adaptation, in resilience, which means supporting Mozambique to create the conditions for the next cyclone - even if it is a brutal one, like these ones - to have less impact in the destruction and in the human suffering. It is a combination of mitigation and adaptation, which means more international solidarity, for both. It is that combination. That is clear. And [to] lessen the impact of the cyclones, like these ones, this is the lesson that we must take.

Q: What should be the priorities in terms of aid?

Secretary-General: For Mozambique? I think the priority for Mozambique is reconstruction and to reconstruct in a way that's different from the way it was constructed before, which means that is more resilient in relation to natural disasters of this nature. And I believe, in the conversations we have had, this is exactly the strategy of the Government of Mozambique.  

Q: [Question about the impact of the past on the future of Mozambique]

Secretary-General: This is a question of the past. I mean there are complex legacies of the past. But the present government is totally committed to present to the international community, not only sound fiscal policies - and I had the occasion to discuss it with the International Monetary Fund - but also to invest in resilience and to invest in adaptation to support the population of Mozambique. 

Of course, there are problems of the past that will need to be solved. But we should not mix the two things. And if there was something wrong done by anybody, it was not the people we saw today. So, the people we saw today should not be penalized by anything, eventually, [by] the wrong that was done by someone in the past. 

Q: Falou da questão da biodiversidade nos dias de hoje. A minha questão acerca disso, associado às instituições do governo, e o secretário-geral, como podem coordenar esforços para que possamos preservar esta preocupação? 

Secretary-General: As alterações climáticas são apenas um dos aspetos em relação a todo um conjunto de questões ambientais em que as Nações Unidas estão envolvidas. Isso tem a ver com questões de radiações, tem a ver com questões de biodiversidade.
Haverá uma conferencia dos estados parte da congregação para a diversidade, em Pequim, em 2020, se estou correto, e a biodiversidade é uma prioridade da nossa ação e, por isso, na colaboração das Nações Unidas com todos os governos, e o governo de Moçambique, todas essas questões ambientais que são essenciais, para além das mudanças climáticas, e que estão muitas vezes ligadas às mudanças climáticas, estarão na nossa primeira linha de preocupação. 

A biodiversidade, em particular, é hoje algo que merece muito mais atenção por parte da comunidade internacional. Nós estamos a assistir à destruição de espécies a um ritmo completamente impressionante. Infelizmente, a espécie homem, ou homem mulher para ser completamente correto do ponto de vista de gênero, a espécie homem mulher tem destruído mais espécies do que qualquer outra na história da terra. 

Q: My question is about [inaudible]. There are some opposite policies unfortunately in some States. Even Japan hasn’t met that higher standard that you mentioned. And also there are some difficult challenges about [inaudible] in technology. Can you tell us the strategy to make the [September climate] conference succeed? 

Secretary-General: Well, first of all, the strategy is to deal with governments. And, I had the occasion to be in Osaka, at the G20, and I said at the G20 in Osaka the same that I said here. I wrote to all the leaders in the G20. The G20 is responsible for 80% of the emissions. So I wrote to all the leaders of the G20, including Japan, with specific requests, country-by-country, on what I believe will be necessary to reach the objectives I mentioned in relation to carbon neutrality and 1.5 degrees. 

On the other hand, we are more and more convinced that governments are following public opinion. We see the youth, with an enormous dynamism, all over the world. We see the business community quite active. The managers of 34 trillion US dollars in assets have addressed the G20, saying that much more needs to be done on climate action, and demanding radical action. So, it's the business community, and I'm talking about 34 trillion in assets. 

We have seen recently the most, the best managed sovereign fund in the world, the Norwegian sovereign fund, decided not to invest any more in fossil fuels. We are seeing a coalition of countries now for the carbon neutrality 2050. And so, we are active, pushing all the actors. And when you have no government willing to do so, acting big cities, with the governors of provinces or states, with the business community, the social society, to push for a global movement, to request the world not to go above 1.5 degrees at the end of the century, and to be carbon neutral in 2050.

Q: O secretário-geral está aqui em Moçambique, gostava de saber que ações concretas que poderão ser feitas se a resposta da comunidade internacional continuar a ser lenta, como até agora? Que respostas e ações concretas?

Secretary-General: Em relação aos dois apelos que estão feitos, e em relação aos quais é preciso insistir.

Primeiro, é o apelo humanitário feito pelas Nações Unidas. 40 % apenas estão financiados. E nós não vamos fazer as pessoas esquecer que ainda existe necessidades humanitárias. Estamos já em fase de reconstrução, mas ainda há necessidades humanitárias, e eu tive ocasião de ver o sofrimento de muita gente que continua a ter necessidades básicas por satisfazer. Portanto, vamos insistir nisso e vamos procurar mobilizar a comunidade doadora no sentido de manter esse apoio. 

Em segundo lugar, foi feita uma conferência de doadores, que é um êxito, que permitiu mobilizar compromissos na ordem dos 1.2 mil milhões, mas as necessidades são 3.2 mil milhões. Mas muitos dos Estados disseram que esta era uma primeira contribuição e que estariam dispostos a aumentar essa contribuição. 

Agora, isso também depende, e há que o dizer com toda a sinceridade, da capacidade das autoridades moçambicanas para rapidamente pôr em marcha os mecanismos que permitam a melhor utilização desse dinheiro. E em colaboracao com as autoridades moçambicanas nós vamos fazer tudo para que haja um rápido desembolso do que foi prometido e para que, àquilo que foi prometido, seja acrescentado o que é necessário para uma efectiva reconstrução. 

[English translation]

As I had the chance to say to the President of the Republic yesterday, this is mostly a visit of solidarity with the Mozambican people. People who were victims of unprecedented devastation in history, with a terrible impact and physical destruction, and another impact on the human suffering of Mozambicans.

At the same time, I want to pay tribute to the Mozambican people and the Mozambican authorities for the speed of their response, for the enormous courage they have shown in the face of this tragedy and the resilience they showed in launching the reconstruction, not only of the houses, of the properties, but in the reconstruction of their own lives.

Now, Mozambicans alone cannot win this battle. There was significant international solidarity. 

The United Nations, in particular, has been with the Mozambican people from the very beginning. But this solidarity is not enough, even taking into account the donor conference, the truth is that the funds made available to Mozambique, alone, are not sufficient to address the gigantic amount of reconstruction that has to be done. Because of that, it is necessary to increase international solidarity and to ensure that what has already been promised to be quickly disbursed.

On the other hand, if it is true that there have always been cyclones, it is also true that these had a frequency and a size of unprecedented humanitarian consequences – and this has to do with climate change.

I am currently preparing a world summit to be held in September, at the United Nations, and this is the third field visit I have done in preparation for the summit.

I've been to the Pacific Islands, particularly in Tuvalu. Tuvalu does not contribute to global warming, but Tuvalu has its own existence threatened by rising sea levels that could make the country disappear.

After, I was in the Caribbean, on the small islands of the Caribbean, where two years ago, I had the opportunity to witness the impact and the absolutely brutal destruction of Antigua, Barbuda and Dominica. And, once again, the Caribbean islands do not contribute to global warming, but they are in the forefront of the destruction that global warming is causing in the world.

And the third visit is now to Mozambique, focused here on the city of Beira. Once again, Mozambique does not contribute to global warming. The Mozambican economy is, unfortunately, still a very small economy. But Mozambique is the second most vulnerable country in the world to the consequences of climate change. And the meaning of these words can be seen. And that is why, from here, I want to send a very clear message to the countries that are responsible for the level of emissions that cause climate change, to tell them that the current trend needs to be reversed, that climate change is still running faster than we are.

In the next summit, a commitment must be made to not let global warming go beyond 1.5° C by the end of the century. It is necessary to commit to carbon neutrality by 2050, and it is necessary for the states to renew its commitments with much more ambition in 2020, both in terms of reduction of emissions, in terms of mitigation and in terms of financing for the developing world, so that the goals I mentioned can be achieved.

But all this implies profound transformations, which demand a strong political will related to agriculture, industrial production, energy, life in cities, human mobility. That is why strong measures are needed. And I have been urging the countries to shift taxes from people's income taxes, particularly on wages, to a carbon tax, which kills two birds with one stone, since, on the one hand, it creates jobs and, on the other hand, it penalizes those who contribute to climate change.

I have said that we need to stop subsidizing fossil fuels. These subsidies are paid with taxpayers' money. If I am a tax payer, I do not want my money to stimulate the action that creates cyclones like the one that just devastated Mozambique.

We need to stop building new coal-fired power plants by 2020. We need a strong commitment from all States to put an end to this threat, which is the most important threat to the planet today, but not just to the planet, also its people.

The example of Mozambique must be an alert for all, and an alert that must lead to action.

Q: [Question about what is needed to rebuild the areas devastated by the cyclones]

Secretary-General: We will be in very close contact with these international financial institutions, and with donor countries, drawing the attention to the fact that the humanitarian appeal was only answered at 40%; and that the donor conference, confronted with the request by the state of Mozambique of 3.2 billion US dollars for reconstruction. The conference, - it was a success, in relative terms - only managed to mobilize 1.2 [billion] in commitments, which means that we need more solidarity and I will be in very close contact with the donor community, with international financial institutions, to remind them that most of the needs [require] increased support. And we know that sometimes when a catastrophic situation is forgotten, international solidarity decreases. Now we have no cyclone, but the problem is still here. International solidarity needs to be maintained and needs to be increased. 

Q: You visited a resettlement center. I'd like to know how you felt with what you saw there? Second, how can the United Nations ensure universal access to health, health services for that vulnerable population?

Secretary-General: The United Nations cannot replace the Mozambican State. It is not the United Nations that will provide education, health, public works. This is up to the Mozambican state. The United Nations can only support the Mozambican state. It is evident that what we saw today was a settlement in its beginning. I have the experience of being the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. I saw how many refugee camps are born. This has nothing to do with this situation, but, at the beginning, they had shelter, some small infrastructures and then, progressively, set up health centers, schools, the things necessary for the life of that community. There are no refugees here, it is the population of Mozambique itself. And so I am sure that investment will be progressively made, and we will support this investment in education and health, but also other things necessary for the well-being of these populations.

But, I must say, I was already impressed with what I saw. What I saw was the great courage and determination of those people. I saw people already sowing and planting. They still don’t have a house, but they are already sowing, they are already planting. They already want to build their future. I am sure that the government will do everything to help them, and we will be on the government side to support the creation of the infrastructures necessary to for them to go back to a normal life.

Q: What is the lasting impact of this disaster?

Secretary-General: What is clear is that we need much more ambition, both in mitigation, reducing emissions, and with depth, reducing the impact of future cyclones. But we also need to invest in adaptation, in resilience, which means supporting Mozambique to create the conditions for the next cyclone - even if it is a brutal one, like these ones - to have less impact in the destruction and in the human suffering. It is a combination of mitigation and adaptation, which means more international solidarity, for both. It is that combination. That is clear. And [to] lessen the impact of the cyclones, like these ones, this is the lesson that we must take.

Q: What should be the priorities in terms of aid?

Secretary-General: For Mozambique? I think the priority for Mozambique is reconstruction and to reconstruct in a way that's different from the way it was constructed before, which means that [it] is more resilient in relation to natural disasters of this nature. And I believe, in the conversations we have had, this is exactly the strategy of the Government of Mozambique.

Q: [Question about the impact of the past on the future of Mozambique]

Secretary-General: This is a question of the past. I mean there are complex legacies of the past. But the present government is totally committed to present to the international community, not only sound fiscal policies - and I had the occasion to discuss it with the International Monetary Fund - but also to invest in resilience and to invest in adaptation to support the population of Mozambique. 

Of course, there are problems of the past that will need to be solved. But we should not mix the two things. And if there was something wrong done by anybody, it was not the people we saw today. So, the people we saw today should not be penalized by anything, eventually, [by] the wrong that was done by someone in the past. 

Q: You spoke about biodiversity today. My question about this, government institutions associated with the Secretary-General, how can they coordinate efforts so we can preserve this concern?

Secretary-General: Climate change is only one aspect of a whole range of environmental issues in which the United Nations is involved. They also have to do with radiation issues, biodiversity issues.

There will be the Convention on Biological Diversity, in Beijing – in 2020, if I am correct. Biodiversity is a priority of our action and, in collaboration with all governments, and the government of Mozambique, all these essential environmental issues that are beyond climate change, but also often linked to climate change, will be our first concern.

Biodiversity, in particular, is now something that deserves much more attention from the international community. We are witnessing the destruction of species at an staggering pace. Unfortunately, the human species has destroyed more species than any other in the history of the earth.

Q: My question is about [inaudible]. There are some opposite policies unfortunately in some States. Even Japan hasn’t met that higher standard that you mentioned. And also there are some difficult challenges about [inaudible] in technology. Can you tell us the strategy to make the [September climate] conference succeed? 

Secretary-General: Well, first of all, the strategy is to deal with governments. And, I had the occasion to be in Osaka, at the G20, and I said at the G20 in Osaka the same that I said here. I wrote to all the leaders in the G20. The G20 is responsible for 80 per cent of the emissions. So I wrote to all the leaders of the G20, including Japan, with specific requests, country-by-country, on what I believe will be necessary to reach the objectives I mentioned in relation to carbon neutrality and 1.5 degrees. 

On the other hand, we are more and more convinced that governments are following public opinion. We see the youth, with an enormous dynamism, all over the world. We see the business community quite active. The managers of 34 trillion US dollars in assets have addressed the G20, saying that much more needs to be done on climate action, and demanding radical action. So, it's the business community, and I'm talking about 34 trillion in assets. 

We have seen recently the most, the best managed sovereign fund in the world, the Norwegian sovereign fund, decided not to invest any more in fossil fuels. We are seeing a coalition of countries now for the carbon neutrality 2050. And so, we are active, pushing all the actors. And when you have no government willing to do so, acting big cities, with the governors of provinces or states, with the business community, the social society, to push for a global movement, to request the world not to go above 1.5 degrees at the end of the century, and to be carbon neutral in 2050.

Q: I would like to know what concrete actions can be taken if the response of the international community continues to be slow, as it has been so far? What concrete responses and actions?

Secretary-General: First, regarding the two appeals that were made, and on which we must insist.

First, the United Nations humanitarian appeal. Only 40% is funded. We will not make people forget that humanitarian needs still exist. We are in the process of rebuilding, but there are still humanitarian needs. I have seen the suffering of many people who continue to have basic needs to be met. Therefore, let us insist on this.  We will try to mobilize the donor community to maintain support.

Secondly, a successful donors' conference was held. It secured pledges around $1.2 billion, but the needs are at US$ 3.2 billion. But many states said that this was a first contribution, and that they were willing to increase their contribution.

That also depends, and this must be said with all sincerity, on the ability of the Mozambican authorities to quickly put in place mechanisms that allow the best use of this money. In collaboration with the Mozambican authorities, we will do everything we can to ensure a rapid disbursement of what was promised, and that the necessary is added to have an effective reconstruction.