As Western countries try to get their economies back on track, Africa lags behind. Yet the world needs solidarity more than ever in the face of Covid-19, the climate emergency and systemic racism.
Coming from a remote village of Maitengwe, Botswana, I never imagined that I would one day find myself taking part in difficult multilateral conversations about global development, in a world stricken by a pandemic, a climate crisis that s worsens conflicts that get bogged down. As the twelfth African President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (Ecosoc), I represent not only Botswana, but also the other countries of the continent in all their diversity. The priorities of my presidency bear witness to this. Africa’s Agenda 2063 is at the forefront.
Vaccine for all
We must continue to implement the continental vision of “the Africa we want” while constantly aiming to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in order to better control this devastating pandemic. If some recover better thanks to vaccines and stimulus packages, many of the poorest countries risk losing another decade of development.
We can only overcome this pandemic through true global solidarity and partnerships
To date, only fifteen African countries – less than a third of the continent – have vaccinated 10% of their population. No one will be safe until the whole world is protected. We can only overcome this pandemic through real global solidarity and partnerships. Rapid improvement in the situation requires urgent access to vaccines for all, the mobilization of sufficient resources and ensuring that everyone’s needs are taken into account. With the help of the Friends of Africa around the world and a reinvigorated Covax system, we can do this, which will allow us to get our economies back on track. We need to close the US $ 23.4 billion funding gap to accelerate access to Covid-19 (ACT) tools for vaccination, testing and treatment.
Climate and racial justice
Under my presidency, Ecosoc also has the heavy task of integrating social justice and climate action into initiatives to respond to Covid-19 and to revive the economy. A fair, sustainable and green recovery will limit global warming to 1.5 ° C and ensure prosperity for present and future generations. At COP26, we made progress, but it remains insufficient. These advances will have to be reinforced at the COP27 in 2022 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt to respond to the climate emergency that Africa is undergoing with rising temperatures, droughts and destructive floods, which threaten their livelihoods and food security.
Measures to combat the effects of climate change – such as integrating a drought management strategy into the Botswana budget – must be supported. The link between peace and socio-economic development is also essential. Conflict has always been the main obstacle to Agenda 2063. We must silence the guns and work for peaceful and inclusive societies.
We must also resolutely oppose inequalities, discrimination and racism.
We must also resolutely oppose inequalities, discrimination and racism. I therefore call on the rest of the world to join the movement in solidarity with people of African descent and other minority groups to condemn racial injustice and systemic racism.
Next July, at the UN, 22 African countries will present their Voluntary National Reviews on progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. This important step will, I hope, strengthen the international solidarity to which these countries aspire.
It is the youth who will determine the future of Africa. I am impressed by their perseverance, their passion, their commitment and their leadership. They bring new ideas and as many innovations in the service of a more inclusive and sustainable future. Our role is to support them in this process. We must listen to the young men and women who will meet at the Ecosoc Youth Forum in April 2022. For our beloved Africa, I am determined to accompany them to fully implement the continent’s Agenda 2063 and Global Agenda for Sustainable Development 2030.