African leaders take bold stand for sustainable development at UN Assembly

Addressing the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, leaders from African nations voiced their commitment to achieving sustainable development and called for a more equitable and prosperous world.

A recurring theme in speeches delivered by the Presidents of Seychelles, Namibia, Ghana, Angola, Sierra Leone and Liberia was the urgent need to rebuild trust and rekindle global solidarity in the face of complex changes.

They expressed unwavering support for the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), emphasizing that the current trajectory falls short of ambitions, further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In their addresses, leaders also highlighted the need for reform of the Security Council to make that 15-member body more representative and effective.

Accelerate joint efforts

 

President Wavel Ramkalawan of the Seychelles emphasized that the international community must accelerate joint efforts to make transformative advancements on the SDGs.

“We must prioritize SDG implementation at all levels,” he said, noting the need to align national policies and strategies with the objectives of the 2030 Agenda, while strengthening partnerships with all stakeholders.

He called on development partners to deliver on their Addis Ababa Action Agenda promises on development finance and on international financial institutions to “embrace reform” and ensure that the unique needs of vulnerable countries are considered in access to development financing.

Reiterated that addressing the climate crisis “is no longer optional – it is an immediate necessity,” President Ramkalawan expressed Seychelles’ commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Transition to green energy

 

In his address, President Hage G. Geingob of Namibia highlighted his country’s efforts in transitioning to green energy, emphasizing its green hydrogen projects and their potential to decarbonize hard-to-abate sectors.

He noted Namibia’s plans to develop green shipping corridors in partnership with other key stakeholders, aiming to create carbon-neutral maritime value chains for clean fuel and products.

President Geingob also noted the impacts of COVID-19 and its lingering aftermath, that pushed many across the world into extreme poverty, as well as worsening inequalities.

“The terrifying gap between the wealthy and the marginalized is not just a moral concern, but also a threat to global stability and harmony,” he said. urging efforts from all countries to create an environment where prosperity is shared and is inclusive.

Things are not right

 

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the President of Ghana, said that the theme of the General Assembly session, rebuilding trust and reigniting global solidarity, “is an acknowledgement that things are not what they ought to be in our world.”

“The mutual trust among nations that is required to ensure harmony has considerably diminished,” he said.

The Ghanaian President highlighted that his country firmly believes that the United Nations is the best means for the world community to address the multifaceted challenges they face.

But the Organization can only function effectively and deliver on expectations, when its fundamental pillars are reformed, “anything short of that will continue to undermine its credibility,” he said.

Institutions need reform

 

President João Lourenço of Angola also highlighted the need for the United Nations to strengthen its role and its capacities to formulate the most appropriate responses and thus be able to face the many challenges.

“It is essential that we do everything in our power to continuously promote respect for and observance of the values set out in the UN Charter and international law, so that we can correct the dangerous trajectory that the world took after the fall of the Berlin Wall,” he said.

President Lourenço noted that developing countries lack sufficient representation in institutions of world governance and therefore are unable to contribute to formulation of realistic solutions to their problems.

“This situation generates anxiety and frustration among the most vulnerable populations who, by not having their expectations met, become easily permeable to negative influences that are dangerous to the order and stability of their respective countries,” he said.

Commitment to democratic governance

 

President Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone highlighted his country’s commitment to democratic governance and human rights, as well as the primacy of regional peace, particularly within the context of the West African subregion.

“Sierra Leone raises its voice alongside our ECOWAS community, expressing unequivocal dissent towards any extra-constitutional changes of Government,” he declared, noting that such actions imperil not only individual nations but also the “cohesive fabric of the broader African identity.”

The President’s message for cooperation and collaboration went beyond regional borders, calling for rebuilding trust and solidarity on the global stage.

Quoting Archbishop Desmond Tutu, “there comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We must go upstream and find out why they’re falling in,” President Bio urged world leaders to address the root causes of today’s problems.

“Our duty is clear: We must lift our people from poverty,” he said.

Unity, resilience and ambition

 

George Manneh Weah, the President of Liberia, highlighted the multitude of challenges the world currently faces, including security, economic, social, political, and environmental issues.

He emphasized the need for collective efforts to address the challenges and realize the 2030 Agenda and urged bilateral and multilateral collaborations.

Since his first address to the General Assembly, five years ago, when he informed the Assembly of the peaceful democratic transition in his country, “with your support and that of our friends, we have kept the democratic torch burning”, President Weah said.

“Liberia’s journey is best captured in the spirit of unity, resilience, and ambition,” he added, urging the international community that together, through collaboration and shared purpose, “we can, and must shape a world that upholds the rights and dignity of every individual.”

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