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Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari chaired the 46th Annual Ministerial Meeting of the G77 and China during the ongoing 77th UNGA Session in New York. The United Nations Secretary General, President of the General Assembly, Secretary General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Director General (Food and Agriculture Organization), and Under Secretary General (DESA) also participated in the meeting. Around 40 Ministers and several other senior officials of member states of the Group of 77 and China deliberated on the theme of the Ministerial Meeting: “Major priority issues and addressing the food, fuel, and finance crises and pathways towards achieving the SDGs”.

In his opening remarks, the Foreign Minister highlighted that the developing countries were suffering disproportionately from a series of shocks: the Covid-19 pandemic, rising commodity prices, the proliferation of conflicts, and the growing impacts of climate change. The Foreign Minister added that these challenges have resulted in the triple interlocking crises of food, fuel and finance.

The Foreign Minister noted that Pakistan was engulfed by massive flooding caused by global warming while emitting less than 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions. One-third of the country – an area the size of the UK – was under water. Over 1400 people lost their lives and thousands were injured; over thirty-three million have been affected, over 1.7 million homes, 12000 kilometers of roads, 375 bridges and 5 million acres of crops, have been destroyed. The total damage was estimated at over $30 billion, almost 10 % of Pakistan’s GDP.

The Foreign Minister proposed an emergency plan of action to overcome these cascading crises, restore economies and achieve the SDGs. The Foreign Minister elaborated that the emergency plan must include mobilizing urgent humanitarian, economic and financial support, providing emergency food supplies, ensuring the availability of fuel and energy for developing countries, mobilizing the universal availability of Covid-19 vaccines and treatments, and providing urgent and adequate assistance to countries suffering from the impacts of climate change.

The Minister also proposed long-term actions to deal with multiple challenges faced by developing countries, which should aim at ending inequity and inequality, among and within nations, and enabling developing countries to achieve the SDGs and goals of the Paris Agreement. He mentioned that reforming international finance should be our priority, which implies sustainable management of sovereign debt, larger concessional finance from MDBs; issuance of additional SDRs; reducing borrowing costs for developing countries.

The Minister also stressed that it was crucial to mobilize $1 trillion annually as investment in sustainable infrastructure; fulfillment of the pledge by the industrial countries to provide $100 billion plus annually in climate finance; aligning international trade system to contribute to achievement of the SDGs; induction of a fair international tax regime; preferential access for developing countries to relevant advanced technologies and end discriminatory restrictions; bridging the digital divide and enabling the developing countries to “leap frog” into the global digital economy of the future.

The Foreign Minister also proposed to promote South-South cooperation through initiatives such as by President Xi Jinping’s Global Development Initiative (GDI). He stressed that China’s Belt and Road Initiative was also an outstanding example in this regard. The Minister added that Pakistan looked forward to completion of the TAPI gas pipeline, the CASA 1000 electricity grid, the Pakistan-Afghanistan- Uzbekistan railroad, as well as the extension of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to Afghanistan.

The Foreign Minister announced convening of a Ministerial Conference of the Group of 77 & China in December to assist the Group to secure tangible outcomes, especially at the SDG Summit to be convened at the UN in September 2023 and at the proposed Summit of the Future in 2024.

The Secretary General and Ministers of the Group of 77 and China supported the Foreign Minister’s plan of action to deal with the current crises and achieve the SDGs. The members of the Group also assured of their support for Pakistan as chair of the Group. The Ministers also adopted a comprehensive Declaration.

23 September 2022

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