Mr. President, Ministers,
Distinguished members of the media.
I am very pleased to visit Suriname for the first time.
And this is a visit of friendship and solidarity.
And I thank President [Chandrikapersad] Santokhi and the people of Suriname for your warm welcome.
Suriname is one of the greenest, if not the greenest, country on the planet.
It is one of the few carbon negative countries.
And it is a leader in biodiversity protection.
But unfortunately, Suriname stands out because it is such an exception.
Around the world, we are seeing the failure of climate leadership.
And the proliferation of disastrous climate disruption.
Our world is still moving in the wrong direction.
The science is clear.
To meet the goal of limiting temperature rise by 1.5 degrees, global emissions must decline by 45 per cent by 2030.
Yet, the current national climate pledges around the world result in an increase in emissions of 14 per cent by 2030.
This is suicide.
With every passing hour of climate dithering, the pulse of the 1.5-degree goal gets weaker and weaker.
And big emitters have a particular responsibility.
Let’s not forget that G20 countries represent 80 per cent of global emissions.
On the other hand, Caribbean nations are on the front lines of the climate crisis and have consistently shown steadfast leadership.
I saw that leadership in action during my visit to the rainforest today.
About 93 per cent of Suriname is covered by rainforest.
You are committed to keeping it that way.
Rainforests are a precious gift to humanity.
And that is why from here in Suriname, I want to send a message to the world.
We must honour and preserve the gift of rainforests.
Because this is not a gift that will keep on giving.
If we keep seeing the scale of destruction across the world’s rainforests, we are not just biting the hand that feeds us – we are tearing it to shreds.
The equation is simple:
If we protect the rainforests, they protect us.
If we destroy the rainforests, we destroy ourselves.
What I have seen here in Suriname gives me hope and inspiration.
But what we are seeing around the world is cause for deep shock and anger.
Rampant deforestation and worsening climate impacts are increasing forest fires and drought.
This is outrageous and shameful. It is global suicide in slow motion.
Destruction in rainforest systems around the world must be a global wake-up call to save the lungs of our planet.
And Suriname must be an example that all others follow.
Today, I met indigenous peoples’ representatives who are showing the way.
Indigenous peoples have not contributed to climate change, yet they are among the most affected worldwide.
At the same time, they have solutions that the world can learn so much from.
They are proud guardians of some of the planet’s indispensable biological diversity, and they need support to do so.
I also saw first-hand how Suriname is working to monitor and preserve essential mangrove ecosystems, which are threatened by sea-level rise and coastal erosion.
Nature-based solutions – such as preserving and developing mangroves, rainforests and other essential ecosystems – are vital.
The world needs more such initiatives.
Across all these fronts, it is critical that nations, especially the wealthiest, work together to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees and to build resilience to the climate shocks to come.
That means finally making good on the longstanding pledge to provide developing countries with $100 billion dollars a year for climate action.
Finding equitable solutions to the debt crisis that is crushing many countries in the region.
Increasing and facilitating access to concessional funding for Small Island Developing States – and other middle-income countries, in particular, for adaptation.
And indeed, what I see in Suriname is that this country is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
And the world has the obligation to massively invest in support of Suriname’s programme of adaptation, as Suriname is providing the world with the gift of rainforests that allows it to be a carbon negative country.
And we seriously need to address loss and damage.
And supercharge a renewable energy revolution.
As I saw today, we have the tools and the know-how.
Our world needs the political will and solidarity to make the difference that is needed.
Suriname and the Caribbean region are leading the path forward.
We must follow that lead – for people, for prosperity and for the planet.