Dr the Rt. Hon. Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister Grenada (原稿通りに読んでないケース 85w/m)

Fellow Grenadians, the past few weeks posed a critical challenge for our healthcare system but thankfully, we are emerging from what will likely be recorded as one of the darkest periods of our country’s history.

It has also been a very challenging time for leadership and decision-making, but I have always been confident that we will get through this. The resilience of the Grenadian people has been demonstrated in the past, and in this period, it is no different — there is just something about our people and the indomitable will to survive and to thrive.

 

The crisis is far from over, but there is certainly a rainbow peeking through the stormy cloud of sickness, death, unemployment, business closures and every other impact this pandemic has wrought on our country. The road to recovery will be long and steep, maybe with some undulating periods where we may seem to regress, but ultimately, sisters and brothers, we will get through this.

One of the most painful elements of this crisis is the number of deaths occurring in a short space of time. Death is an inevitable part of life, but the sheer volume at which we have been experiencing death in the last few weeks, was unprecedented. It was extremely painful to see and to hear of so many families facing the sudden loss of loved ones.

It was particularly disconcerting to see the number of elderly citizens we lost, the true gems of our country, those whose sacrifices laid the foundation on which we stand today — their lives obliterated, in a flash, taking with them elements of our culture, our heritage as a people. It is devastating and I am heartbroken by the sudden loss of 130 of our senior citizens. I pray that the families of all the deceased are comforted by the fact that their loved ones are resting in peace.

In the same breath, I must acknowledge that despite the loss of life, we ought to be grateful because so many others have recovered and remain with us today. To date, Grenada has recorded more than 4,300 recoveries from Covid-19. Some required medical intervention and their recovery was hard-fought. Unfortunately, many people waited too late to seek help and, in some cases, had it not been for the expertise and the dedicated care of our medical team and the invaluable support system within the healthcare sector, our numbers may have been higher.

Therefore, sisters and brothers, we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to our team of health professionals — doctors, nurses, community health team, orderlies, drivers, cooks, cleaning staff, maintenance personnel and oxygen plant staff — just about everyone who contributed to the care of Covid-19 patients, whether directly or indirectly. We recognise that the healthcare system is a sum total of all its parts, with each element contributing to the overall product and we, therefore, thank all of you for the critical role you play in serving the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.

Sisters and brothers, the rate of infection continues to decline and the total number of active cases similarly continues the downward trend, but this came at a tremendous cost to others who were put on the breadline as non-essential businesses were forced to close their doors. It is an ongoing challenge for Government to create that delicate balance between safeguarding lives and protecting livelihoods, such is the complex nature of this pandemic.

Recognising the tremendous financial impact of the pandemic, Government has initiated a second stimulus package that will benefit a wide cross-section of the population, particularly those who are most vulnerable. Already, the Covid-19 Economic Support Stimulus Secretariat, at the Ministry of Finance, has processed more than 1,500 applications with more than 500 approvals to date. Beneficiaries approved for income support have already started receiving payments on 1 October. Those approved under SEED, will receive their first payments on 15 October. In addition, 55 small business loans worth about $600,000 and qualifying under the stimulus package, have already been approved, to help business owners recover from the impact of the pandemic and to stimulate operational growth and development.

Given the positive trend we are now seeing and the optimism of the health experts, that this will continue, the Cabinet has agreed on a number of measures that will in essence, provide an easement of the regulations that have been in place for the last few weeks.

  • Effective, 5 October and continuing until 19 October, the nightly curfew will continue but will be adjusted from 7 pm to 4 am.
  • The no-movement weekends will be discontinued. This measure has certainly helped to curb the rate of infection, but health experts have continuously indicated that we must learn to live with Covid-19, therefore it is imperative that we seek to resume a degree of normalcy while continuing to safeguard our people.
  • Retail stores across the country will be allowed to resume normal operations but we encourage store managers to maintain 50% capacity in-store at all times and ensure that workers and patrons alike, are following the recommended protocols — the proper wearing of masks, appropriate physical distancing, avoiding large gatherings and regular hand sanitisation.
  • Beaches will be accessible for an extended period, between 4 am and 4 pm daily.
  • In the food service sector, dine-in services will resume for fully-vaccinated persons only.
  • Gyms and fitness centres are also permitted to resume operation. Likewise, daycare centres and businesses in the beauty sector including hairdresser salons and barber shops. However, there is one caveat which is based on consultation with representatives in the private sector to help facilitate continuity of operations in the event of future spikes that could otherwise force another shut down of operations. Having consulted with stakeholders in the following industries and acting on their general recommendation, employees in the food service, accommodation, fitness, beauty, child and elderly care sectors, must be fully vaccinated, or in cases where they have received only one dose, the second dose must be administered within a specific period after the resumption of operations.
  • The re-opening of schools is widely anticipated by students, parents and educators and while I am keen to see our children back in the classroom, our primary concern must be their health and safety. The vaccination rate among teachers and other personnel in the education sector is abysmal. The uptake of the Pfizer which is administered to children 12 and above, is also low at this point. Against this backdrop, it is difficult for Government to announce the re-opening of schools.

Sisters and brothers, during the past few weeks, our vaccination numbers have continued to improve, with latest figures showing that about 25,000 people are fully vaccinated. In addition, more than 10,000 people are partially vaccinated, meaning they have received the first dose of the 2-dose regimen. This is a welcome improvement in the number of persons opting for vaccination but we are still a long way from where we need to be in terms of achieving herd immunity.

I must recognise the role of volunteers in helping us to achieve the significant increase in vaccinations. Over the past 4 weekends, teams of doctors, nurses, ordinary citizens as well as faculty and students from St George’s University volunteered their time to provide testing and vaccination clinics across the country. This outreach effort, undertaken in collaboration with public health officials, made testing and vaccination more accessible to many people and contributed to about 4,000 more people being vaccinated and the Ministry of Health being able to acquire much more data on the extent of the spread of the virus across communities.

On many occasions during those weekends, I acknowledged the enormous sacrifice being made by the volunteers and it is important that I do so again as part of this national address. Volunteers, thank you for your selfless service and partnership with the Government of Grenada.

Continuing on the subject of gratitude and patriotisim, I must acknowledge the valuable contribution of our diaspora community — the doctors who have travelled to Grenada to provide physical support to their colleagues on the frontline; the many organisations and individuals, who readily donated supplies to bolster our inventory and ensure that our health team is properly outfitted to execute the challenging tasks they face. Several other initiatives are likely in the coming weeks, including the provision of telemedicine service by our diaspora doctors.

We are also grateful for the generosity of medical professionals from Cuba, Mexico and Nicaragua who are currently supporting our own healthcare professionals. I must acknowledge the sizeable donation expected shortly from Direct Assist, a charitable organisation based in the United States.

I have mentioned on many occasions, that getting through this crisis requires a collaborative effort and I am pleased to see that many have seen the value in this approach, volunteering where possible and initiating and engaging in the necessary dialogue, making recommendations for improving this collective fight against Covid-19. I must make special reference here to Brother Randal Robinson of the National Democratic Congress who has been volunteering his service at vaccination and testing clinics. I call on all to follow his example.

Sisters and brothers, vaccine inequity continues to be a significant challenge around the world, but we are thankful to our international partners who have ensured that Grenada and our OECS and CARICOM neighbours receive this critical resource to help fight the spread of the virus. Government is currently engaged in discussions to source additional supplies of AstraZeneca and Pfizer. We anticipate a second shipment of Pfizer in the coming weeks.

The operations of Government have not been immune to the impact of the pandemic. Several public officers have themselves contracted the disease and while we have lost a few, the vast majority has recovered. We have implemented the necessary measures to adapt to the new environment, including the rotation of staff where necessary to ensure adherence to physical distancing, remote work where possible and greater emphasis on digital transformation and online services. We also encourage the continued enforcement of protocols across Government to ensure that public officers and the people they serve are kept safe.

Sisters and brothers, I close by saying, these unprecedented times require equally extraordinary fortitude. For individuals and organisations alike, it is not a period for the faint of heart, but we have persevered thus far and I must reiterate the need for us to continue working collaboratively, in the interest of our people and our country. It is imperative that we join hands regardless of political, religious or other affiliation. That said, we must guard against complacency being allowed to undermine the gains made. The reduction in active cases should motivate us to become even more cognisant of the protocols, ensuring that we safeguard ourselves and our loved ones, as we seek a return to some sense of normalcy. I thank you.

William Shatner Speech After Blue Origin Space Flight

William Shatner: (00:00)
Everybody in the world needs to do this. Everybody in the world needs to see. It was unbelievable. Unbelievable. I mean, the little things, the weightlessness. But to see the blue color go whip by, and now you’re staring into blackness. That’s the thing. The covering of blue is this sheet, this blanket, this comforter of blue that we have around. We think, “Oh, that’s blue sky.” And there’s something you shoot through, and all of a sudden, as though you whip a sheet off you when you’re asleep, and you’re looking into blackness, into black ugliness. And you look down. There’s the blue down there and the black up there. And there is mother and Earth and comfort. And there… Is there death? I don’t know. Was that death? Is that the way death is? Whoop and it’s gone. Jesus.
(01:10)
It was so moving to me. This experience been something unbelievable. You see, yeah, you know, weightless. My stomach went up. I’m like, “God, this is so weird.” But not as weird as the covering of blue. This is what I’ve never expected. Oh, it’s one thing to say, “Oh, the sky and the thing and the fragile… ” But it’s all true. But what isn’t true, what is unknown, until you do it, is this pillow. There’s this soft blue. Look at the beauty of that color. And it’s so thin, and you’re through it in an instant. It’s what… How thick is it? Do we know?

Jeff Bezos: (01:56)The atmosphere?

William Shatner: (01:57)Is it a mile? Two miles?

Jeff Bezos: (01:58)No. It depends on how you measure it, because it thins out, but maybe 50 miles.

William Shatner: (02:02)But you’re going 2,000 miles an hour. So you’re through 50 miles at whatever the mathematics says.

Jeff Bezos: (02:08)Fast. Yeah. Really fast.

William Shatner: (02:10)It’s like a beat and a beat, and suddenly you’re through the blue.

Jeff Bezos: (02:12)And then it’s black.

William Shatner: (02:13)And you’re into black. And you’re into… Ah, it’s mysterious and galaxies and things. But what you see is black. And what you see down there is light, and that’s the difference. And not to have this? You have done something. I mean, whatever those other guys are doing, what isn’t… I don’t know about that. What you have given me is the most profound experience I can imagine. I’m so filled with emotion about what just happened. It’s extraordinary. Extraordinary.
(02:55)
I hope I never recover from this. I hope that I can maintain what I feel now. I don’t want to lose it. It’s so much larger than me and life. And it hasn’t got anything to do with the little green man [inaudible 00:03:16] of the blue or… It has nothing to do with that. It has to do with the enormity and the quickness and the suddenness of life and death and the… Oh, my God. [inaudible 00:03:29].

Jeff Bezos: (03:25)It’s so beautiful.

William Shatner: (03:31)Beautiful. Yes. Beautiful in its way. But-

Jeff Bezos: (03:33)No, I mean your words.

William Shatner: (03:34)Oh, my words.

Jeff Bezos: (03:36)That’s just amazing.

William Shatner: (03:38)I don’t know. I can’t even begin to express what… What I would love to do is to communicate, as much as possible, the jeopardy, the moment you see the vulnerability of everything. It’s so small. This air, which is keeping us alive, is thinner than your skin. It’s a sliver. It’s immeasurably small, when you think in terms of the universe. It’s negligible.

Speaker 3: (04:22)Thanks for watching our YouTube channel. Follow today’s top stories and breaking news by downloading the NBC news app.

 

Thank you to my dear friend, Laurent Fabius, for your kind introductory remarks.

I am so grateful to you for your advice, support and friendship.

My thanks also to UNESCO for hosting us today.

It is very good to be in Paris,

a city steeped in history, one chapter of which was written six years ago, when the Paris Agreement was born.

To Laurent for his expert diplomacy, and indeed all the architects of that historic Agreement, we owe a huge debt of gratitude.

Because the Paris Agreement was a landmark in the global efforts to tackle climate change.

Representing a binding agreement, bringing all nations into a common cause.

To adapt to the effects of climate change, and limit the rise in average global temperature to well below two degrees, pursuing efforts towards 1.5, compared to pre-industrial levels.

In Paris, leaders provided the world with consensus, with ambition and hope.

But it was the beginning of the road.

And in the on-going effort to tackle climate change and limit global warming, in 19 days from now the world will converge on the great city of Glasgow for the latest United Nations Climate Conference, COP26.

And at that vital summit, the world must honour the promises made here in Paris six years ago.

And that ultimately, rests with world leaders.

success, or failure, of COP26 is in their hands.

And so is the fate of the Paris Agreement.

Because since it was signed, the world has not done enough.

Emissions have continued to rise, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has issued a code red for the climate.

Stating, that unless we act immediately, the 1.5-degree limit will slip out of reach.

Already, temperatures have risen at least 1.1 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

Extreme weather is on the march around the world.

This summer we have seen devastating flooding in central Europe and China,

raging wildfires in North America,

record temperatures across the globe, and what some have called the world’s first climate-induced famine in Madagascar.

It has been a truly humbling experience for me to meet communities on the front line of climate change.

Earlier this year I visited the town of Jomsom in Nepal, nestled in the Hindu Kush mountain range.

The majesty of the Himalayas is breath-taking.

But you can also clearly see the alarming impact of a warming climate.

Glaciers melted into giant lakes which, when they burst their banks, have a devastating impact on those living in the foothills.

The people I met had been driven from their villages, by the twin impacts of flooding and drought.

Their dignity still preserved, even as their homes were not.

I was recently on the island of Barbuda in the Caribbean, which was struck by hurricane Irma in 2017.

Much of the damage is still unrestored.

All around you see derelict building after building, with the roofs still blown off, the walls crumbling.

Standing in the midst of that devastation it felt as if a hurricane had blown in just a few weeks ago.

And I talked to some of those still living on the island.

They spoke of the effective forced migration of large numbers of people, who had been unable to return to their homes and rebuild their lives.

They noted, with fear, that the storms facing the region were becoming more frequent and more ferocious.

And they had a very clear message for the world, particularly the largest emitters, the G20 group of nations, to act now to reduce emissions.

I could relay many other heart breaking testimonies I have heard, from communities under siege from a changing climate.

Communities from East Africa, Southeast Asia, from South America to the Pacific.

But the point is that at 1.1 degrees warming the effects are already alarming.

And every fraction of a degree makes a difference.

At 1.5 degrees warming 700 million people would be at risk of extreme heat waves.

At 2 degrees it would be 2 billion.

At 1.5 degrees 70 per cent of the world’s coral reefs die.

At 2 degrees they are all gone.

If temperatures continue to rise we will step through a series of one-way doors,

And the end destination of which is climate catastrophe.

That is why countries on the front-line of climate change fought so hard,

for the 1.5-degree temperature limit to be enshrined in the Paris Agreement.

For them, 1.5 to stay alive is not a hollow slogan.

It is a matter of survival.

And it is why I have always been clear that, in Glasgow, the world must deliver an outcome which keeps 1.5 degrees in reach.

To achieve this, I have been asking countries to deliver on four key goals.

Emissions reductions, adaptation, finance, and working together, including to make the negotiations in Glasgow a success.

In all of these areas, working with partners around the world, we have made progress.

But on each of them, critically, we have further to go.

And leaders must deliver.

On emissions reductions, many climate vulnerable countries are leading the way.

From Bhutan and Suriname which have already achieved net zero, to the small island developing state of Barbados, which will be fossil fuel free by 2030.

I have been urging countries to follow this leadership and commit to net zero by the middle of the century.

And to set out ambitious plans to cut emissions by 2030, those 2030 Nationally Determined Contributions.

There has been progress.

When the UK took on the COP26 Presidency, less than 30 per cent of the global economy was covered by a net zero target.

That figure is now 75 per cent, and climbing.

In recent days Turkey and the UAE have both declared net zero targets.

The UAE’s an historic first in the Gulf.

And I hope that others in the region will follow, ahead of COP26.

More than 70 countries in total have come forward over the past two years with updated, and more ambitious, 2030 NDCs.

And that includes every G7 nation, all of which have NDCs aligned with net zero by 2050, and some of the world’s most climate vulnerable countries.

And they want the same ambition, the same level of commitment, from the largest nations, the G20 countries which account for around 80 per cent of global emissions.

The response of the G20 will quite simply be make, or break, for keeping 1.5 within reach.

And at the G20 Climate and Energy Ministers meeting in July, every G20 country agreed to set out ambitious 2030 emissions reduction targets before COP26.

The UK, France, Italy, Germany, the EU, Canada, the US, Argentina, Japan, South Korea and South Africa have done so.

Now the rest must deliver.

And all eyes will be on the G20 leaders meeting at the end of this month.

We know that we can only tackle climate change if every country plays its part.

So I say to those G20 leaders, they simply must step-up ahead of COP26.

NDCs and net zero commitments are critical to keeping 1.5 alive.

But the targets must translate into change across our economies and our societies.

So we are also urging countries to take the action needed to move to a cleaner world.

To consign coal power to history.

To accelerate the drive to clean electric vehicles.

To end deforestation.

And to reduce methane emissions.

All of which present historic opportunities to create jobs, create growth, and move to a healthier more secure world.

Now we recognise these can be complex transitions for countries.

Which comes as we face global gas supply challenges.

Yet volatile prices underscore the importance of countries accelerating their move to more clean, renewable power.

And we are seeing progress.

Take my personal priority, coal.

I was delighted to co-chair the G7 Climate and Environment Ministers meeting in July where we delivered a historic agreement that no G7 nation would finance any more coal projects internationally.

South Korea has made the same commitment.

And with China’s recent announcement, we are well on the way to choking the financing for new coal power, as we ramp up support for renewables.

But we still need the G20 to tackle domestic unabated coal use.

So, at the G20 meeting I urge leaders to kick coal into the past, where it belongs.

And I expect that at COP26 we will see further commitments on coal, cars, methane and on deforestation.

Keeping 1.5 alive has always been about driving action, and ambition, over this next vital decade.

Countries’ emission reduction commitments, and action in the areas I have outlined, are two vital parts of that.

But there is one more.

We have heard the call from countries at the Ministerial meetings in London and Milan, that we need an outcome from Glasgow that accelerates progress to 2030.

The Paris Agreement is working.

As its architects intended.

It is steadily increasing ambition.

Analysis suggests that the commitments made in Paris in 2015, would have capped the rise in temperature to below 4 degrees.

If the commitments made since then by countries are fully implemented, it could bend the temperature curve towards two degrees.

But to keep 1.5 within reach, we need to go further.

So the Glasgow negotiated outcome must launch a decade of ever-increasing ambition.

We need a system that accelerates progress recognising that, whilst all countries must act, those with the greatest responsibility must do more.

The Climate Vulnerable Forum, for example, has suggested that countries’ progress towards the Paris goals should be assessed at each COP until 2025.

Now ultimately, we will need to reach consensus on this issue.

And that is why I am grateful to Ministers Dan Jorgensen and Simon Stiell for the consultations that they are holding, on how the Glasgow outcome should keep 1.5 within reach.

To keep driving that ambition to 2030, we must also finalise the Paris Rulebook.

This must be resolved if we are to unleash the full power of the Paris Agreement.

But this is no easy task.

The outstanding issues have been discussed for years, without resolution.

I am grateful for the consultations conducted by Ministers Grace Fu and Sveinung Rotevatn on Article 6 and carbon markets, and by Ministers Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya and Simonetta Sommaruga on Common Time Frames.

In London and Milan, we saw progress, but we are still some way off consensus.

And I want to be frank, it will be a challenging task to get us over the line.

So, as I said to Ministers in Italy, we must all come to COP26 armed with the currency of compromise.

Because the world will not understand if, six years on, we still cannot reach agreement on these issues in Glasgow.

Alongside emissions reductions, adaptation has always been central to our COP26 Presidency.

Even if we reached net zero tomorrow, our climate will continue to change.

So it is vital that governments set out their plans to protect people and nature from its effects, and that we increase support and finance for adaptation.

I have come to understand, just how important this issue is for many climate vulnerable nations.

And so we must redress the balance, between finance for mitigation and finance for adaptation.

And we are seeing some progress.

Every G7 country has committed to boost finance for adaptation.

And a new Champions Group on Adaptation Finance is committed to a balance in public finance, between adaptation and mitigation.

And we encourage more countries to join this grouping.

The Adaptation Action Coalition the UK launched with partners in January, now has 38 members.

More countries have come forward with adaptation commitments, but even more are needed.

We have also seen encouraging progress in the debate on loss and damage, a renewed determination to find solutions.

And at COP26 I hope that we will come together, as a global community, to help equip the most vulnerable, to protect themselves from climate change.

We want to make progress in negotiations on loss and damage and adaptation.

Now whether it is adaptation, or emissions reductions, we know that without finance, tackling climate change is well nigh impossible.

So developed countries must deliver on the 100 billion dollars a year promised to developing nations.

This is a totemic figure, a matter of trust.

And trust is a hard won, and fragile commodity, in climate negotiations.

So the 100 billion dollars continues to be an absolute priority of mine.

And I will be honest, thinking about this does keep me awake at night.

The report from the OECD last month set out that in 2019 international climate finance almost reached the 80 billion dollars mark, still over 20 billion shy of where we needed to be in 2020.

Yet recently, we have seen some progress.

Ministers Jochen Flashbarth and Jonathan Wilkinson, are working with me on a Delivery Plan for how, together, developed countries will deliver the 100 billion dollars a year.

We hope to publish the plan before COP26.

And under the UK Presidency, every G7 nation has committed to do more towards the 100 billion dollars.

The UK, Germany, Canada, Japan and the US have pledged new money.

And the European Commission, Sweden and Denmark also have been pledging additional funds, so we are now within touching distance of the $100billion.

Based on the conversations I have had, I am hopeful that more countries will make commitments.

And my message to leaders in every donor nation is clear.

Please step forward now, in these few days before COP26.

Because that promised 100 billion dollars is vital to the success of the summit.

We simply must deliver.

At COP26 we will also start deliberations on the post 2025 finance goal.

And, more broadly, we must address issues such as fiscal space.

So I hope we will hear progress on SDR channelling to developing and vulnerable countries at the IMF and World Bank Annual meetings this week.

This has been a focus of mine, and that is why I have championed this issue with the IMF.

The Paris Agreement set us on a path to transform all global financial flows to deliver a green and sustainable economy.

so, as well as delivering public finance, we need to unleash trillions of dollars of private finance to transition to a greener world.

I am pleased to see the success of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, led by Mark Carney and others.

This now represents over $90trillion in assets.

Its an enormous achievement.

The next step, is to ensure that some of this money is channelled into developing countries, to scale up green, resilient infrastructure.

And also we need development banks to play their part, to help mobilise private funds, driving down the cost of capital.

The task the world faces at COP26 is unprecedented.

Both in terms of what is at stake, and the challenges posed by the pandemic.

The ongoing menace of COVID-19 will make COP26 a COP like no other.

There will be daily testing, masks, social distancing, and limits on room numbers, by necessity.

This is to keep delegates and the local community safe.

It will be an extraordinary COP, in extraordinary times.

But collectively, we must pull together to make it work.

Forging unity from the unfamiliar.

Because we have no choice, but to deliver.

Every country must step-up.

And as COP26 President I will ensure that every voice is heard.

That the smallest nations are sitting face-to-face, with the world’s largest powers.

As equal parties to the process.

And that is why the UK is funding quarantine hotels for delegates.

That is why we offered vaccinations to all accredited delegates, who would not have been able to access them in their home nations.

And today I am pleased to announce new Self-Isolation Support Funds,created by the UNFCCC with the backing of civil society backers which will be available to accredited party delegates, eligible civil society and media from developing countries.

This will cover their costs if they do contract COVID during their stay in Glasgow, and have to self-isolate, thereby requiring a longer stay in Glasgow.

I am also determined that the voices of young people, of indigenous people, women and civil society will be heard.

As part of a truly inclusive summit.

So the UK COP26 Presidency is funding a pavilion for the Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change.

We are hosting a designated Gender Day.

And we are working with young people to host a Youth & Public Empowerment Day.

And I ask global leaders to take inspiration from these young people.

From the passion that I have witnessed from them around the world, and the ambition and commitment I saw on display at the recent Youth4Climate event in Milan.

I ask global leaders to listen to the message of the faith leaders and scientists I met at the Vatican last week, whose Appeal on climate exemplifies the co-operation we must embody.

And I ask global leaders to take their lead from those climate vulnerable countries taking action, in the most difficult circumstances.

There is no denying that the issues at any COP are complex.

Passions, understandably, run high.

But ultimately, success depends on us all.

And, I will do my utmost, as a neutral broker, to shepherd us towards agreement.

COP26 is not a photo op, nor a talking shop.

It must be the forum where we put the world on track to deliver on climate.

And that is down to leaders.

It is leaders who made a promise to the world in Paris six years ago.

And it is leaders that must honour it.

Responsibility rests with each and every country.

And we must all play our part.

Because on climate, the world will succeed, or fail, as one.

We are almost at the end of the road.

And at the Youth4Climate event, I heard young people direct real anger at world leaders.

So now is the time, to redeem ourselves.

Because as my childhood hero, and our COP26 President’s Advocate, Sir David Attenborough has said:

“The moment of crisis has come… The future of humanity, and indeed all life on earth, depends on us.”

So let’s see world leaders come together for our planet,

in that 2015 spirit of hope, fraternity, and ambition.

Paris, promised.

Glasgow, must deliver.

Thank you.

Published 12 October 2021

Foreign Secretary's special briefing on Prime Minister's visit to USA (September 25, 2021)

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: A very good morning to all of you. Thank you very much for coming here today for the special media briefing. During the visit of Honourable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to United States, this is the second of his visit in New York. To give a sense of his visit so far and particularly focusing on today morning's speech addressed to the United Nations General Assembly, we have the privilege here of having with us, Shri Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Foreign Secretary of India. Also joining us Shri T.S. Tirumurti, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of India in the United Nations in New York and also Mr. Prakash Gupta, Joint Secretary looking after United Nations in the Ministry of External Affairs. I would request Foreign Secretary sir to brief opening remarks and then we'll take a few questions. Please do note Prime Minister will be leaving New York shortly after this so we may be a little tight in questions. I see some people already raising hands please hold on while his opening remark. Please sir, you have the floor.

Shri Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Foreign Secretary: Thank you Arindam and I want to thank our Ambassador and Permanent Representative joining us also. Namaskar and Good morning. As you're aware, the Prime Minister just addressed the high level segment of the 76th United Nations General Assembly. On the theme of General Assembly's debate, which is building resilience to hope to recovery from COVID-19, rebuild sustainably respond to the needs of the planet, respect the rights of people and revitalise the United Nations. Prior to his address, the Prime Minister was greeted by the President of the General Assembly, Mr. Abdulla Shahid. You would recall that the President of the General Assembly visited India on the 24th of July and he had at that time called the Prime Minister.The Prime Minister when he met the president of the General Assembly after he resumed office, he just resumed office recently, congratulated him on his presidency of hope. The message of the Prime Minister was very well received, his congratulatory message and I am told that it is a very positive resonance on this concept of the presidency of hope. You are aware that the Prime Minister’s address the General Assembly marks the culmination of a very successful, a very comprehensive tour of the United States. The Prime Minister was in Washington DC, where he held a bilateral meeting with the US President, President Joe Biden. He also met Vice President Kamala Harris. He participated in the meeting of the QUAD Leaders’ Summit, which was attended by the Prime Minister of Japan and Australia, hosted by the President of the United States. And he also separately had meetings with his counterparts from Japan and Australia. In Washington, he met a number of CEOs of major US corporates. So all in all, it has been a short but very, very comprehensive, very useful and visit which allowed for extensive high level interactions. His address in the United Nations, which you would have heard, has focused on some important themes. The first theme, of course, was that democracies can deliver, democracies have delivered. the Prime Minister spoke about an array of flagship programmes and initiatives in India that have delivered very successfully to hundreds of millions of our citizens, whether it is in the aspect of enabling them to enter into the banking sector by allowing people to open bank accounts, whether it is in terms of participating in health schemes that provide for quality health services to a very large number of our people, health insurance, low cost housing for millions of our citizens being converted from landless to land owners, as the Prime Minister said. Also very strong emphasis that the Prime Minister laid on this issue of technology, technology has delivered for us, we have used technology in very many areas of our developmental activity that has enabled us to reach out to people in all parts of the country, every segment of society, and that I think has been a very important message that has been conveyed. He also drew the synergy of our efforts in the health sector. Health is an overriding priority obviously in the general discourse in the United Nations at this point of time. The Prime Minister spoke about our use of technology in the health sector especially with regard to the ability to immunise hundreds of millions of our citizens in the COVID-19, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, through the Co-win platform, which is one of the finest, most, I would say, well-conceived digital platforms. You would recall that when Co-win was introduced to the international community through the Co-win Global conclave, 142 countries participated, it has been put as an open source digital platform available to countries around the world. The Prime Minister also spoke about the success of our vaccination programme. 800 million plus of our citizens have already received vaccination doses, we are looking at accelerating this and the Prime Minister emphasised the fact that the success of this entire enterprise was also based on the organisational aspect of it, including Co-win, of course. And of course, the fact that we have today come out with cutting edge technologies, we have our indigenous vaccines, we also have developed a DNA vaccine which will be introduced for children, which is a touch vaccine, we have come up with mRNA technology. So we are also at the cutting edge of vaccine development and Prime Minister referred to India as a manufacturing hub for vaccines for the entire world. In that context, of course, he spoke of the fact that we had announced our decision to, again recommence exports of vaccines from the month of October. Again, this is extremely well received in the UN and the international community. The Prime Minister spoke of global value chains in the context of Aatam Nirbhar Bharat, resilient supply chains that we are developing. Important emphasis was given on climate change in which the Prime Minister pointed out that we ourselves unilaterally gone in for a 450 gigawatt target by 2030. We were ahead in terms of meeting our expectations in Paris Agreement. And that if we were to look at the gains that we would make in addressing the issue of climate change it is because we have to answer the future generations. And the Prime Minister pointed out that it was important for us to ensure that we do the right thing now, so that our future generations don't question the fact that we hadn't done enough to make our planet both sustainable environmentally, and something that is enduring. I think, again, when you talk about technology, the Prime Minister talked about science based rational thinking, applied to development, I think that is an important factor that science and technology have dictated how we can best provide development gains to as many of our people as possible as effectively and as cost effectively as possible also. And he also talked about from that point of view, the development of incubators, the start-up culture, the importance and promise of innovation among the youth of India, the development of satellites, 75 satellites to commemorate our 75th anniversary of independence. So on international issues, you would have noticed that the Prime Minister referred to the most pressing issue of today again, which is a topic of conversation of almost every head of state and government that has spoken at the United Nations, the situation in Afghanistan. He said that countries using terrorism as a tool should note that this is a double edged sword. I think that's a very important point to make that you cannot think of encouragement to terrorism because that can come back to bite you. In the context of Afghanistan, the Prime Minister referred to the fact that the plight of women, children, minority should not be forgotten. That these basic human rights of people of Afghanistan are important. They need the help of the international community and it is incumbent on the international community to come forward to speak in one voice on some of these issues that are important to all of us. The Prime Minister did speak about the fact that we shouldn't abuse our natural resources. This is a legacy for the future. This is a trusteeship of nature that has been bestowed on us, that our culture does, Indian culture and ethos is one that is close to nature, that we live in harmony with nature and that is something that's important in today's context of dealing with climate change, dealing with some of the environmental issues that we face globally.

And he also spoke about the UN Security Council, in particular, our contribution to the issue of maritime security in the UN Security Council, as you know, we were held the presidency of the Security Council, a very successful presidency. Our Permanent Representative has to take great amount of that credit for a presidency that outlined and shaped thinking in many new areas, the highlight of which was the Prime Minister's chairing the open debate on Security Council on the issue of maritime security. This is the first time an Indian Prime Minister has chaired a meeting of the UN Security Council. This is also the first time India has or any country for that matter, has successfully steered a UN Security Council debate on the issue of maritime security and come up with the outcome document which today is being referred to by many countries as being the guiding, I would say, principles on this issue. We also of course, focused on the issue of technology and peacekeeping, the important issue of counter-terrorism. And in that context, of course, when we talk about international issues, issues that are important to the global community, the Prime Minister referred to the COVID-19 and its origins, the case of, ease of doing business, I think that's important when we talk about the need for greater investment and technology flows, the issue of good governance. He called upon the UN to provide global order, global law and global values. I think if you look at the statement, one or two things become apparent. The first, of course, is that, you know, India by its own developmental paradigm and the success of its developmental efforts is really, in many senses, providing development to the entire world because we represent 1/6th of humanity, our development, our progress, our success is the word success. The second of course, is the intention to share with the international community, our best practices, our experiences and in that context the Prime Minister referred to the global common good and the fact that India has always looked to seeing how we could both support and assist the larger global community in whatever we do. And in that context, of course, technology and other issues were important in terms of focus. And, of course, when we talk about development then we talked about several models of development, I did give you some examples, in terms of Co-win, in terms of vaccine development that can also be successfully shared with the rest of the world. And that I think, was the larger theme of what we spoke about. Of course, you know the PM’s address helped us to project our long standing growing credentials as a South-South development partner in the context of the India-UN Development Partnership fund. Here again, I think important steps have been taken to see how we can work with the UN in an outreach that would enable some of our developmental successes and models that we have evolved within our country to be shared as effective and cost effective practices that can be adopted elsewhere in the world. Financing for development, commitment to the idea of Global Partnership under SDG 17, including on climate change. And, of course, a number of countries in their addresses have referred to India, in particular, our development partners in the context of COVID-19 assistance, in the context of development programmes and we thank them, we appreciate their sentiment and we continue to look forward to a very close partnership with countries all over the world in the furthering, in the extension of what we are doing within our own country. So perhaps I'll stop here, I don't know if you want to add anything, I think you have to go and see off the Prime Minister, so fully understand.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Thank you sir for a comprehensive overview of that, as we say goodbye to Permanent Resident Ambassador, Tirumurti. Okay, I see hands. We start here, please.

Speaker 1: Thank you very much. My name is Lynka White from the ( inaudible) newspaper, and I cover the United Nations. I wanted to ask on Afghanistan, according to you, what are the next steps if Taliban will not have an inclusive government and when they should be taken? And second question, you spoke about women and children that their rights need to be protected. How do you think we can ensure that?Thank you very much.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Yeah. Sir I think that we can take the questions Yes, Ma'am, please.

Speaker 2: Thank you. Yoshita Singh with Press Trust of India. In his bilateral meetings with the President and also with Japan and Australia, did the Prime Minister highlight the need for unity in dealing with the Taliban situation in Afghanistan, given that we've seen that there are divisions in the Security Council, whether it's from Russia or China, on how this situation should be dealt with and also to ensure that the Afghan soil is not used as a terror launchpad in the region. Thank you.

Speaker 3: Sidhant from Wion. What kind of assurances India gets from the bilaterals with from US when it comes to Pakistan support to terror and China as an aggressor during this entire three day visit?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Okay. Yeah, please, ma’am.

Speaker 4: Sir Maha Siddiqui from CNN-News 18. Sir the G4 countries recently released a statement once again asking for the need of UN reforms. What is the biggest hurdle in the reform? Sir why isn't it happening despite the fact that the UN fails to represent realities of the modern world?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Yes, please.

Speaker 5: Mr. Foreign Secretary, the Prime Minister mentioned in his speech about a rule based order. Quite clearly that would be seen as an indication to China's aggressive behaviour, would you subscribe to that?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Okay, last one.

Speaker 5: Sir Reena Bhardwaj for ANI. Now President Biden did discuss with Prime Minister Modi that India should have a permanent seat of the UN Security Council. Was there any similar sentiment that India gathered through the meetings? Or throughout this week at UNGA?

Shri Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Foreign Secretary: I think the first question was on Afghanistan.I think you drew attention to women and children and what can be done by international community. You saw that in the Prime Minister's address to the UN just a short while ago he laid very strong emphasis on the international community speaking out in one voice and also taking responsibility for a number of issues. But he mentioned in particular, the issue of the human rights of women, children, minorities. I think that is an important issue from our perspective, it is an important issue from the perspective of the international community. If you look at what the international community is demanding of the ruling dispensation in Afghanistan and I think that was the second part of your question. It is encapsulated in resolution 2593 of the UN Security Council which incidentally was adopted in under our presidency of the council. Resolution 2593 demands that Afghanistan's territory not be used for terrorism to the detriment of any of its neighbours or any other country. It also enjoins on them to respect the human rights of women, children and minorities. It asks for unimpeded access for humanitarian assistance. And it also, I think, ask that there should be inclusive negotiated political settlement. These are the basic I would say, requirements of the international community. Until and unless those requirements are met in part or in full, I think the international community will continue to wait and watch the situation. For the international community this is an important area of fulfilment. Certainly India will work with its partners both regional partners and global partners in ensuring that many of these important aspects including, sorry, the evacuation of Afghan nationals, who want to leave the country are fulfilled and these are very important requirements and these are also, in some senses commitments that the ruling dispensation had made when they first entered Kabul. And we would like to see that those obligations and commitments being fulfilled. Yoshita, I think you had a similar question. I think I've basically answered what you were talking about. Certainly within the QUAD there was a strong sentiment, you would have seen it in the joint statement that the QUAD has issued, that Afghanistan is a high priority that many of the elements that are mentioned in resolution 2593 are reflected in the joint statement. This is, in some senses, a fairly accurate description of the conversation that took place among the leaders of the QUAD group. And I think unity, when it comes to Afghanistan is very, very pertinent and I think all the QUAD leaders recognise that our interests converged and our interests were really reflected in the points that I made earlier. And from that point of view, I think the QUAD was very, it was a very useful meeting in putting together the thinking and the objectives of the QUAD leaders had in Afghanistan, bringing them on the same page. I think Sidhant, you spoke about Pakistan’s support for terrorism, again, you would have seen that in all the meetings the Prime Minister had, beginning with US leadership, there was suo moto recognition of the concerns that Pakistan represents as a country that has in many senses, both supported and nurtured cross border terrorism, including in Afghanistan and from Afghanistan. There was a sense that situation needs to be watched very carefully and that the international community needs to ensure that Pakistan fulfills its obligation as a member of the committee, a committee of nations in its basic obligations, that it does not in any way work against the detriment of its neighbours or any other country in the world. And that, again, has been reflected, if you see strong statements both in the bilateral joint statement as well as the joint statement in the quadrilateral Leaders’ Summit reflects those sentiments quite significantly. I think Maha’s question was on the G4 and you know, whether the UN has failed to fulfil its obligations. The United Nations, of course, continues to be a body that represents the legal and de jure interests of countries from all over the world and its membership. It is you know, the forum in which countries can come to seek both a projection of their, let's say, larger global engagements but also to resolve many of the issues that are pertinent to them. In many cases, we have seen that the UN has not lived up to its commitments, whether it is in the area of international peace and security, whether it's in the area of health care, epidemics and pandemics and I think in all of these there is obviously a need to look at how we can reform the UN in general and in UN Security Council in particular, reformed multilateralism has been India's main theme. And we will continue to work towards the reformed United Nations during our stint as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. It's also interesting to note that many other countries also share our sentiments, we have a very large measure of support. You heard President Biden when he said, I mean, President Biden, this is not public messaging, but he did mention that India should be, have a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. I think that is reflected in the joint statement. And this is something that continues to be a view held by, not just the US but other QUAD partners and many other countries. In the UNGA debate this time, you would have seen that after the United States, in its in President Biden's statement mentioned this factor, but there was also Portugal that supported India for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. A permanent seat as well as reform of the UN Security Council remains India's top priority. As I mentioned, there is a sense that under the new president of the General Assembly there would be a thrust to the process, the inter-governmental process and we will move forward to texts based negotiations which we have been talking about with concrete outcomes in a fixed timeframe. We believe that India's 75th anniversary coincides with the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. This is the time that the UN should fulfil its long standing obligations to reform for the benefit of the global community. I think the question by Reena was again, on permanent seat to some extent I have responded to what you asked. Rules based order, yes, that was a recurring theme. The QUAD stands for rules based international order, the QUAD stands for a free, open, transparent, inclusive, prosperous Indo-Pacific region. And in that context, you know, the right to freedom of navigation, use of global comments, international order is definitely there. This is the general sentiment, is a general principle, I would not say that it is directed to any country in particular, we believed in principles, we believe in values, and we believe that the quad as a group must work with its indo Pacific partners with ASEAN at the centrality to achieve those objectives.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Sir thank you very much for that comprehensive overview. I think because of time constraints; we'll have to move now. I thank you all for your participation today morning. Appreciate Good day.

Shri Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Foreign Secretary: Thanks a lot and see many of our friends back in India.

Harris delivers remarks at the National Congress of American Indians convention

Vice President Harris: (00:07)
Thank you Chairperson Aaron Payment, it is so good to see you. And good morning to everyone. Thank you, all of you, everyone, for your incredible leadership, the courage of your leadership, the tenacity of your leadership, and most importantly, for your commitment to build a strong nation to nation relationship with our administration.

Vice President Harris: (00:29)
President Joe Biden and I believe that the bond between our nations is sacred and we take seriously our responsibility to one another. It is an honor, of course, to be with you this week as we celebrate Indigenous People’s Day, as we speak truth about our nation’s history. Since 1934, every October, the United States has recognized the voyage of the European explorers, who first landed on the shores of the Americas. But that is not the whole story. That has never been the whole story. Those explorers ushered in a wave of devastation for tribal nations, perpetrating violence, stealing land, and spreading disease. We must not shy away from this shameful past, and we must shed light on it and do everything we can to address the impact of the past on native communities today.

Vice President Harris: (01:41)
Today, we know that native women and girls are missing and murdered at alarming rates. This is an epidemic and it must end. Today we also know, that Native American voters are being systematically denied access to the ballot box, which is why we must pass The Freedom to Vote Act, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. We also know that Native Americans serve at the highest levels of our nation’s government, that Native Americans serve in our nation’s military at the highest rates of any group. That Native Americans do the work that we know is essential to make our nation work. And still, Native Americans are more likely to live in poverty, to be unemployed and often struggle to get quality health care and to find affordable housing. This persistent inequity, this persistent injustice is not right, and the pandemic has only made it worse.

Vice President Harris: (02:59)
I believe strongly that we right now have a chance to change things, to improve things, to be better for this generation and for the seven generations to come. Because I believe that we are at the beginning of a new era and a moment of incredible transformation. As we work to rebuild our economy, as we work to restore our democracy, we have the opportunity to build a better future together.

Vice President Harris: (03:33)
At this very minute, our administration is working with Democrats and Republicans and Independents in Congress to pass the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and we are confident that we will get it done. This bill represents the largest infrastructure investment our nation has made since before World War II and presents, right now, an important opportunity to strengthen Indian country. It would set aside funding for tribal bridge projects and the Tribal Transportation Program. It would provide native communities with funding to build out brand new water infrastructure, and connect native communities with high speed internet. All while creating good union jobs, millions of good union jobs. And as native communities have led for generations upon generation on protecting our environment, I should also mention that this bill would also put millions of dollars toward making sure our communities are resilient in the face of climate change.

Vice President Harris: (04:47)
At the same time, our administration is working to pass a budget that reflects the values of our nation, that invests in those communities that have long gone overlooked. Our Build Back Better, will have a significant impact on Indian country. As Native American families struggled to find affordable care in their area, our agenda would lower childcare and elder care costs. Our agenda would lower healthcare costs and housing costs, and it would cut taxes for families with children by extending the Child Tax Credit for years to come.

Vice President Harris: (05:31)
Together, our American Rescue Plan and our Build Back Better agenda will have provided more than $31 billion for Native communities. Our Infrastructure and Jobs Act and our Build Back Better agenda represent the largest investment in Indian country in our history, more than a point of pride. This is a sign of our administration’s respect for our nation to nation relationship. And to that point, I’m very proud to announce right here today that our administration is reopening our memorandum of agreement on the 477 Program. And I don’t need to tell you this program gives tribes the power to make decisions about how best to integrate and deliver federal services within your nations. I know that this is an action that many of you have asked for, and I am optimistic that together, we will be able to renegotiate this agreement to support tribal sovereignty.

Vice President Harris: (06:39)
So let me end with a quick story. Back in July, in my ceremonial office, Secretary Deb Haaland and I had a conversation with Native American leaders on our fight for voting rights and to protect the right to vote, which is of course another important aspect of the work we are doing together. At the end of our conversation, they presented me with a beautiful star quilt of red, white, and blue made by members of the Oglala Sioux Nation, they wrapped it around me and honored me with a blessing. It was a moment I will never forget it is a moment I will always cherish.

Vice President Harris: (07:23)
And so as I leave you today, it is my prayer that as one family, we seize this moment in our shared history to bring about shared prosperity. May we protect the future of our children and their children for generations to come, and may that future ground us and guide us always. Thank you each and every one of you and may god bless you and may God bless America. Thank you.

Chairperson Aaron Payment: (08:00)
Thank you, Vice President Harris. Thank you for your friendship for Indian Country and your advocacy and that wonderful news about the 477. Also, thank you for honoring us with your direct engagement.

Biden delivers remarks on restoring protections for national monuments

Gina McCarthy: (00:00)
We’re here for a celebration. We’re here to celebrate the latest step that President Biden is taking to protect, to conserve, and to restore the lands and the waters that all of us cherish. Today President Biden is restoring protections for three magnificent national monuments, and this announcement follows on consultations with a wide variety of stakeholders. It fulfills a key promise to the American people, restoring protections for these national monuments as part of this administration’s broader commitments to protect our natural and cultural resources, to honor tribal sovereignty, and to advance environmental justice.
(00:47)
Present Biden’s conservation agenda is also a critical part of how we’re tackling the climate crisis. By protecting our ecosystems, we strengthen the power of our soils, our grasses, and our trees to trap carbon pollution, and healthy natural systems build up our resilience against the climate impacts that we know we are already facing. Tapping into these natural climate solutions will protect public health. They will protect us against climate impacts. They will promote biodiversity, and yes, they will grow our economy. That’s worth a clap.
(01:33)
That’s why President Biden threw his Build Back agenda has also proposed creating … Are you ready for it? A new Civilian Climate Corps, which will partner with our unions in putting to work a new generation that looks like America, receiving good benefits and good pay to restore the health of our public lands, our coasts, our waters, and our forests, and to advance environmental justice and help communities to better prepare for the impacts of a changing climate.

Gina McCarthy: (02:07)
Across our administration, we’re taking a whole of government approach to conservation and to climate with the agencies that steward so many of our lands and waters, like the Department of the Interior and Agriculture and Commerce. We’re all working together to advance wind and solar, to promote climate-smart agriculture and forestry and create good paying union jobs all along the way and implementing these innovative climate solutions.
(02:37)
So as we celebrate today’s restoration of these three national monuments, we’re also committed to building back better as we tackle our climate crisis. With that, I am so honored to introduce my good friend Brenda Mallory, the chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, who is leading on our conservation and environmental justice efforts. Brenda.

Brenda Mallory: (03:07)
Thank you, Gina. It is so great to see all of you in person. I can’t tell you how exciting it is to be in person on this day and this event. I want to welcome you to the White House, and I also want to thank you, each and every one of you, from tribal leaders to business leaders to conservation leaders to hunters, anglers, climbers, scientists, educators, and millions and millions of American people. Thank you for speaking up. Thank you for standing up and for fighting to keep a simple but sacred promise that in America when we protect a place as a national monument, it is to be protected for all time, for all people.
(04:00)
Let us reflect on the meaning of this moment. The single largest elimination of protections of lands and waters in US history was met by the single largest mobilization for conservation in US history. Millions and millions of Americans rallied to help tribes defend Bears Ears, to restore Grand Staircase-Escalante, and to safeguard the Atlantic Ocean’s first marine national monument.
(04:32)
This fight has galvanized a new and powerful vision for conservation in America, a vision in which we act with urgency and ambition to conserve and restore the lands, waters, and wildlife we love and that are disappearing so quickly, a vision in which the stewardship traditions and conservation priorities of tribal nations are celebrated and supported in both law and policy, a vision in which every child in America, no matter where they live, has a chance to experience nature’s wonders, and a vision in which we harness the power of our forests and farms and ocean and coast to keep our climate livable and communities thriving. This is the vision that President Biden with your help is pursuing, and let me tell you, there is no one better to stand beside as we drive this work forward than our extraordinary Secretary of the Interior. Ladies and gentlemen, my friend and partner in so many things, Secretary Deb Haaland.
President Joe Biden: (05:54)[inaudible 00:05:54].

Deb Haaland: (05:54)
Thank you. Good afternoon, everyone. Before I start, I just have to say that I have the best team at DOI, and I’m so grateful for all of you. So thank you. Thank you, and thank you, Brenda. Thank you for your introduction.
(06:18)
We are here today on the ancestral homelands of the Anacostia and Piscataway people, bending the arc of the moral universe toward justice. Thank you, Mr. President, for the profound action you are taking today to permanently protect the homelands of our ancestors. Our songs, our languages, and our cultures are strong, and many people from many Indian tribes have sung and spoken in unison to protect this sacred place.
(06:53)
Bears Ears is a living landscape. When I’ve been there, I felt the warmth and joy of ancestors who’ve cared for this special place since time immemorial. It’s a place where you can stand in the doorway of a home where a family who lived thousands of years ago left behind a legacy of love and conservation for a place that sustained them for countless generations. Stories of existence, celebration, survival, and reverence are etched into the sandstone canyon walls. Sacred sites are dotted across the desert mesas. Cultural heritage in the form of ancient pots, arrowheads, clothing, seeds, and evidence of lives well lived are as inseparable from Bears Ears as the air we breathe at this moment.

Deb Haaland: (07:51)
Today children learn and sustain from their parents and elders the songs, traditions, and ceremonies that have been passed down from generation to generation at Bears Ears. This is a place that must be protected in perpetuity for every American and every child of the world.
(08:21)
Today’s announcement, it’s not just about national monuments. It’s about this administration centering the voices of Indigenous people and affirming the shared stewardship of this landscape with tribal nations. The president’s actions today writes a new chapter that embraces Indigenous knowledge, ensures tribal leadership has a seat at the table, and demonstrates that by working together, we can build a brighter future for all of us. We have much more good work ahead. Together, we will tell a more complete story of America. Together, we will conserve and protect our lands and ocean for people, for wildlife, for the climate. Together, we will strengthen our economy with healthy, resilient, natural systems.
(09:18)
Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you for strengthening the nation to nation relationship. Thank you on behalf of all Americans who love and value our cultural heritage. Thank you on behalf of the local communities whose economies are continually benefiting from healthy ecosystems on our public lands, national monuments, and parks. I am so grateful and very proud to serve on your team, and now it’s my distinct honor to introduce you, ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States of America.

President Joe Biden: (09:58)Thank you.
Deb Haaland: (09:58)Thank you.
President Joe Biden: (10:03)[inaudible 00:10:03].
Deb Haaland: (10:04)[inaudible 00:10:04].

President Joe Biden: (10:11)
Good afternoon. Please, all be seated, please. Madam Secretary, Deb, you’ve done an incredible job in a short amount of time. I told you when I asked you to be Secretary of Interior that I understood I was politically raised by [inaudible 00:10:32] Indian nations, Indian nations. I want to thank all the leaders that are here today for your support, your help getting this done. It’s really, really important. I want to thank Brenda, the Council of Environmental Quality, and Gina McCarthy. If you need any translation, talk to me after. Gina, you’re the best. You’re the best. I want you to know although he didn’t speak today, we want to thank my buddy Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture, for being here today, because he’s about preservation.
(11:17)
Maria, Senator Cantwell, thank you for your really hard, consistent, unrelenting work on these issues. I also want to thank Michael Bennett the same way. He’s been in this and ever from the moment he got elected has been pushing hard. Rubin, I want to thank you, Congressman Gallego, for the work you’ve done and continue to do. I really mean it.
(11:43)
This may be the easiest thing I’ve ever done so far as President. I mean it. I mean it. I’ve got to tell you a quick story. When I was running for office, and I’m embarrassed I can’t remember exactly which state I was in, but a gentleman and I think it was his wife and a little girl said … The little girl said, “Can I talk to you?” She had this … I couldn’t understand what she had in her hand. It looked like a teddy bear. She said, “Can I talk to you, Mr.?” She wasn’t sure what to call me, because I wasn’t elected yet. “Mr. President or Mr. Vice President.” I said, “Sure. What’s the matter, honey?”
(12:23)
She said, “I want to give you something. I want to give you some bear’s ears.” I looked at her, and she gave me this little set of bear’s ears. She said, “You’ve got to promise me. You’ve got to promise me you’ll protect the bear’s ears.” I’m thinking, “What the heck?” I mean, at the time I knew bears, but I just didn’t quite get it. Her dad said, “A national park.” I said, “Oh, yeah.” She went and looked. She said, “You promise? You promise?” I promised, and it’s the easiest promise that I’ve made in a long time.
(13:01)
I’m grateful to the tribal nation leaders and both those who are here with us today and those are unable to join us. Today I’m proud to announce the protection and expansion of three of the most treasured national monuments, our most treasured based on powers granted to the president under the Antiquities Act first used more than a century ago by Teddy Roosevelt.
(13:24)
First, Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. This is the first national monument in the country to be established at the request of federally recognized tribes and a place of healing, as was spoken by the secretary, a place of reverence, a sacred homeland to hundreds of generations of Native peoples. The last administration reduced the size by 85%, leaving vulnerable more than one million acres of cherished landscape. Today I will shortly be signing a proclamation to fully restore the boundaries of Bears Ears.
(14:00)
Second, I’m restoring Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, a place of unique and extraordinary geology as well as biodiversity established as a national monument 25 years ago this month. Over the last quarter century, this land has produced a significant scientific discoveries per acre, more than any other national monument, everything from fossils to ancient Indigenous artifacts. Once again, the last administration cut the size of the monument nearly in half, stripping away more than 800,000 protected acres. Today I’m signing a proclamation to restore it to its full glory.
(14:45)
Third, off the coast of New England, I’m restoring protection of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, waters teaming with life with underwater canyons as deep as parts of the Grand Canyon and underwater mountains as tall as the Appalachians. There’s nothing like it in the world, because its unique biodiversity, marine scientists believe that this is a key to understanding life under the sea. President Obama established it as a national monument five years ago, recognizing its irreplaceable value. Again, my predecessor chipped away at its protections. The proclamation I’ll be signing today is going to restore protections established by President Obama when this monument was first created. Excuse me.
(15:37)
The protection of public lands must become, must not become, I should say, a pendulum that swings back and forth depending on who’s in public office. It’s not a partisan issue, and I want to thank the members of Congress for coming together to support this important conservation work. By the way, I might add as a matter of courtesy, I spoke with both the senators from Utah. They didn’t agree with what I was doing, but they were gracious and polite about it, and I appreciate that as well.
(16:09)
Truth is, national monuments and parks are part of our identity as a people. They are more than natural wonders. They’re the birthright we pass from generation to generation, a birthright of every American. Preserving them is a fulfillment of a promise to our children and all those who will come to leave this world a little better than we found it. But today our children are three times more likely to see climate disasters uproot and unsettle their lives than their grandparents generation. We have to come together and understand why this work is so critical.
(16:46)
When we’re protecting care for a forest, we’re not just preserving the majesty of nature. We’re safeguarding water sources and lessening the impact of fires. Excuse me, and the impact of fires. We’re protecting wetlands. We’re not only saving birds and fish and the livelihoods of people that depend on them. We’re also shoring up the natural defenses to absorb the fury of hurricanes and super storms. Nearly one in three Americans live in a community that has been struck by weather disasters just in the last few months, hurricanes, wildfires, droughts, heat waves. Both the Build Back Better plan and my bipartisan infrastructure are going to make critical investments, significantly increasing the resilience to these devastating effects on the climate crisis.
(17:34)
It includes creation of a Civilian Climate Corps, similar to President Franklin Roosevelt’s Conservation Corps. It’s going to put diverse groups of Americans to work doing everything from restoring wetlands to protecting clean water to making forests more resilient against wildfires. My plan also puts Americans on a course to achieve 50 to 52% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and to reach net zero emissions no later than 2050. Achieving these ambitious goals is going to require that nature itself play a role.
(18:14)
Scientists estimate that the protection and restoration of natural lands and waters can provide nearly 40% of the solutions to climate change. That’s why I’m signing these proclamations today as an additional reason. It’s also why I’m restoring protections for the Tongass National Forest in Alaska, which I’ve had the great honor to visit. As a matter of fact, when I was meeting with … Back in the days when the Senator from Alaska, I was with him after the oil spill on the North Slope, and we stopped in the Tongass Forest. He sat me at a table in this magnificent restaurant in the middle of the Tongass Forest, which has tree trunks as big as those trees holding up the whole building. It’s magnificent.
(19:03)
He sat me with what I kidding call Hoss Cartwright and his family, four big guys, really big, big guys. They had a lumber company that they were foresting the area, and they wanted me to support paying for roads into the national forest so they could forest. We started the conversation. To make a long story short, when I made it clear I wasn’t going to do that, a father turned to his son, who looked like that program, Hoss Cartwright, big fella. He said, “I’ll bet” … I won’t use the exact language. He turned to me. I’m across the table, and it’s just got he and three of his sons. He said, “I’ll bet this so-and-so,” referring to me, expletive deleted, “doesn’t realize he’s closer to Lexington, Kentucky today than he was when he just flew off the North Slope.” It made the point to me. Alaska’s pretty big. There’s an awful lot we need to protect.
(20:08)
But that’s why I’m working to protect Bristol Bay from mining operations that would threaten one of the world’s largest salmon runs. That’s why I’m refusing to sell off the Arctic National Wildlife reserve to oil and gas. These protections provide a bridge to our past, but they also build a bridge to a safer, more sustainable future, one where we strengthen our economy and pass on a healthy planet to our children and our grandchildren.
(20:38)
Let me close with this. Edward Abbey, a writer who once worked as a ranger at the Arches National Park in Utah, wrote, and I quote, “This is the most beautiful place on Earth. There are many such places. Every man, every woman carries in heart and mind the image of the ideal place, the right place, the one true home, known or unknown, actual or visionary.” Folks, that’s the United States of America. That’s America, a country we all share together, a country that we must protect together. This is just one more step in doing what other presidents have done, starting with Teddy Roosevelt. I’m now going to sign these proclamations, and thank you all. Thank you all for your support. Thank you. Come on. (21:26)
All right. First one I’m signing is Grand Staircase.(22:11)
All right. The second one I’m signing is Bears Ears.
Crowd: (22:18)Yes.
President Joe Biden: (22:19)Wish I could remember that little girl’s name. I hope she’s watching.
Crowd: (22:27)Thank you for signing this, President.
President Joe Biden: (22:27)
Oh, it’s important to me. You guys know it better than anybody. All right. Here we go. I’m going to get you all a pen.
President Joe Biden: (22:48)The third one I’m signing is the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. [inaudible 00:22:53]. Go on. Somebody grab one that doesn’t have one.
Crowd: (23:07)Thank you, Mr. President.
President Joe Biden: (23:27)Next one. Next one. Next one.
Crowd: (23:30)I’m going to do the same back home, Mr. President.
President Joe Biden: (23:32)Thank you. Next one.
Crowd: (23:36)I’m going to start adding my middle names.
President Joe Biden: (23:41)I’m going to keep going here. How many more? [inaudible 00:23:52]?
Crowd: (23:51)Did you get one, Bonnie?Crowd: (23:51)Put a PS there.
President Joe Biden: (24:05)[inaudible 00:24:05]. Okay. Two more. Barack used to be able to do this. It’d say Barack Obama. He didn’t always have the two pens.
Crowd: (24:19)There you go.
President Joe Biden: (24:23)One more. If I don’t have enough pens …
Crowd: (24:28)Do a heart sign.
President Joe Biden: (24:32)Everybody get one?
Crowd: (24:33)[crosstalk 00:24:33].
President Joe Biden: (24:33)All right. Thank you. Thank you all very much.

Statement by Minister for Foreign Affairs Hon. Dr. Narayan Khadka at the General Debate of the 76th Session of UN General Assembly

Mr. President,
Mr. Secretary General,
Excellencies, 
Distinguished delegates.

I bring warm greetings to this distinguished audience from the people and Government of Nepal, and their best wishes for the success of this Assembly.

I congratulate you, Mr. President, on your well-deserved election. It is so significant to see that a South Asian is chosen to preside over the proceedings of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly at a time when the world is ferment in the midst of COVID-19 and climate crisis.

Please be assured, Mr. President, of Nepal’s full support in the discharge of your important responsibilities.

Let me also commend the outgoing President His Excellency Mr. Volkan Bozkir for successfully leading the 75th session of the Assembly during the trying times.

I would like to place on record our warmest congratulations to UN Secretary General His Excellency Mr. Antonio Guterres on his reappointment for a second term of office and commend his leadership of our organization.

Mr. President

I would like to join world leaders in expressing our deepest condolences to the people across the world, who have lost their loved ones due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 has silently and cruelly claimed over 4.5 million lives. The crisis has brought the world to a grinding halt, devastated the global economy, pushed an additional 150 million people into extreme poverty, and threatened to reverse hard-earned development gains.

The covid crisis has exacerbated pre-existing and perennial challenges such as poverty, hunger, unemployment, inequalities,  and climate change.

This has exposed systemic weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and inadequacies in health system around the world. Nowhere is this distinctly visible than in the most weak and vulnerable countries where people remain deprived of access to even basic civic amenities.

The theme of the General Debate ‘building resilience through hope’ is both timely and pertinent.

Recovering from COVID 19, rebuilding sustainably, responding to the needs of the planet, respecting the rights of people, and revitalizing the United Nations aptly mirrors the pressing priorities, challenges, and needs.

Reviving hope is critical in times of crisis. We appreciate the efforts made by the international community including the United Nations system to address the challenges posed by COVID-19.

We also welcome the pledges of funds and vaccines. Increased commitment and resources are needed for these initiatives.

Deepening vaccine inequality is leaving adverse socio-economic impacts in many low-income countries.

Fair and equitable access to vaccines must be ensured for everyone, everywhere. People’s lives should come first. Vaccines must be declared as public goods for the benefit of people’s lives.

In Nepal, saving lives, strengthening the health system, and pursuing economic recovery and transformation underpin our efforts to build a sustainable and resilient recovery. Despite constraints and challenges to access COVID-19 vaccines, we have been able to vaccinate close to 20 percent of our population.

We remain grateful to our immediate neighbours-India and China for their support in fighting the covid crisis.

We also sincerely thank friendly countries, like United States, Britain, Japan and others for providing vaccines, critical medical equipment, and medicines in our fight against the pandemic. 

Mr. President,

Recent developments in Afghanistan are of common concerns to all of us. People of Afghanistan deserve better. We call for an unhindered humanitarian access and full resumption of public services, including health and education for all sections of Afghan society.

We urge all parties involved to ensure peace, security, and stability so that the Afghan people can live in dignity and enjoy their fundamental rights and freedom. We also urge Afghanistan to engage with the international community on the basis of the principles of the UN Charter and norms of international law.

We call on all concerned parties in Myanmar to respect the will of the people, restore the democratic and constitutional process, and uphold the fundamental rights and freedom of the Myanmar’s people.

We call for an immediate end to the hardships and sufferings of the common people in Libya, Syria, and Yemen.

In the Middle East, we reiterate our long-standing position and want to see peace and security with a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine living side by side within secure and recognized international borders. 

Mr. President,

For over 63 years, Nepal has consistently contributed to the UN peace operations to promote peace, security, and stability in the conflict-ridden parts of the world.

We attach high importance to the safety and security of UN peacekeepers and the need for adequate training, resources, and modern technologies. It is in this spirit that we endorsed the Declaration of Shared Commitments in support of the ‘Action for Peacekeeping’ initiative.

Nepal has endorsed the Kigali Principles on the protection of civilians and supports the UN Secretary General’s system-wide zero-tolerance policy for sexual exploitation and abuse and aims for zero case scenario in peacekeeping.

As one of the largest troop and police contributing countries, Nepal believes that such countries deserve more senior level positions both at the headquarters and in the field based on the level of their contributions.

Excellencies and distinguished delegates, 

Nepal condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and denounces all activities aimed to fuel social discord, communal conflicts, and intolerance.

There is a need of robust global cooperation to effectively implement the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, to combat and control financing of terrorism, and to fight the organized trans-border crimes. This underlines the urgency for conclusion of a comprehensive convention against terrorism.

It is worrisome to see new signs of arms race through modernization of nuclear arms, and weaponization of outer space among big powers. We call upon them to divert precious resources from military spending to addressing the covid-19 pandemic and lifting the most vulnerable people out of poverty.

The mechanisms of disarmament as well as the measures of non-proliferation and confidence building have been stalled. Nepal calls for general and complete disarmament of all weapons of mass destruction in a time-bound and verifiable manner.

As the host to the UN Regional Center for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific, we are committed to supporting the works of the Centre and reviving the Kathmandu Process for promoting regional efforts on disarmament, arms control, and non-proliferation. 

Mr. President,

Whether it is the rising of sea levels or melting of Himalayan glaciers, hurricanes, storms, floods or fires, climate change has become an existential threat to humanity. Reports indicate that warmer conditions have even prompted animals and plants to adopt new habits and evolve new traits.

Nepal is home to eight of the world’s 14 highest peaks including the top of the world- Sagarmatha, the Mount Everest. Sagarmatha stands as an icon of adventure seekers and Himalayan heritage for us. As the environmental concerns are growing, we need to raise environmental awareness. While we welcome climbers from around the world, we expect climbers’ cooperation to bring back the garbage from the high mountains to maintain their sanctity.

Nepal has a number of snow-fed Himalayan rivers that are connected to identity and civilizations and sustain one fifth of the global population. Our efforts have been to accord due ecological diligence while undertaking development activities in the Himalayan region.

Nepal is at the sharp end of climate change despite its negligible share in greenhouse gas emissions. On our part, we reiterate our commitment to delivering climate-resilient development pathways by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050.

The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, equity and respective capabilities should be at the center of the climate agenda to ensure climate justice.

The Glasgow COP26 must provide a breakthrough. Climate ambition of developing countries must be met with easier access to adequate financial and technological support for adaptation and mitigation. It must be a gateway to greener, cleaner, and smarter energy transition.

Mr. President,

With just less than a decade left, the world is not on track to achieve the 2030 Agenda. The pandemic has strained our efforts to realize the SDGs.

As we strive for resilient recovery and building back better and stronger, achieving SDGs should be at the center of our priorities.

Nepal has mainstreamed the SDGs into its national plans, policies, and programmes. Significant progress has been achieved across major sectors, such as education, health, gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Changing the lives of people lacking wealth, dignity, and human rights has been our commitment.

The Least developed countries (LDCs) are the most vulnerable group of countries even at the first quarter of the 21st century. They should be freed from the dehumanizing conditions of poverty and under development.

LDCs and LLDCs need reliable and sustainable financing, partnerships, and technology transfer to overcome their structural impediments to benefit from globalization.

As both an LDC and LLDC, Nepal’s structural challenges are unique. We see our plan to graduate from the LDC category by 2026 as an opportunity to bring structural transformation and make the long-held national aspiration of graduation smooth, sustainable, and irreversible.

We look up to the LDC-5 to be held in Doha early next year as an important opportunity to renew the bond of international partnership. It must build on the unfinished business of IPOA, with a commitment to enhanced level of support to the graduating countries.

The development of multi-modal transport infrastructure and unhindered transit rights of landlocked nations are critical to their sustainable development.

We call for the implementation of past decisions and programmes in full synergy and coherence with the 2030 Agenda and expect development partners to increase their support to establish a secure, reliable, and efficient transit transport system for the landlocked developing countries.

The ongoing crisis must not be a pretext for retracting from ODA commitments.

The development potentials of South-South cooperation in terms of trade, investment and technology must be fully exploited.

It is time to reform global economic governance architecture to ensure fair and equitable representation of all. We welcome the steps taken by IMF and G20 on debt relief and debt service suspension. Nepal calls for a reformed and more equitable international debt restructuring to address the debt crisis of low-income countries.

WTO is not only about maintaining rules-based international trading order, it must also be a platform to enable the developing countries benefit from it with an enhanced level of international cooperation in the areas of aid for trade, technology transfer, and capacity building.

Connectivity is lifeline for peace, progress, and prosperity. Connectivity forms a premise for enduring cooperation, deeper integration, building of trust and confidence among nations. Nepal attaches utmost priority to cooperation through connectivity and underlines the need to create a win-win situation between and among countries.

 Excellencies and Distinguished Delegates,

Nepal calls for concerted efforts to ensure the safety, security, dignity, and well-being of all migrant workers.  We call for the effective implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and underline the need for a more robust international governance for the protection, safety, and welfare of the migrant workers.

Protection of minorities and their rights makes the world more humane and contributes to world peace and security. Despite not being a party to the Refugee Convention and its Protocol, Nepal has hosted thousands of refugees on humanitarian principles.

Nepal considers the forced eviction of citizens as a grave crime against humanity. We call upon the international community to respond responsibly and act decisively for refugees’ right to return to their homeland in safety and dignity.

Mr. President,

Nepal has chosen the democratic path to development. Democracy is about people and therefore democracy is indispensable for people’s welfare.

The constitution of Nepal accommodates aspirations of all its citizens. Proportional representation of all sections of the society is at its core. It guarantees a comprehensive set of internationally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms. The constitution establishes powerful commissions to promote and protect rights and interests specific to women, Dalits, Muslims, Madhesis, indigenous people and other disadvantaged communities. It makes it mandatory to have 33% women representation in federal and provincial parliaments and 40% at the local level. This has firmed up their role in politics and development.

We are committed to conclude the transitional justice process through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons. There would be no blanket amnesty in the cases of serious violation of human rights.

As a member elected for the second term in UN Human Rights Council, we continue to add value through apolitical and impartial approach to human rights.

 

Mr. President,

Nepal’s worldview is shaped by our adherence to the principle of ‘amity with all and enmity with none’.

Our friendship with both of our neighbors, India and China, remains of paramount importance in the conduct of our foreign policy based on the principles of Panchsheel – five principles of peaceful co-existence, derived from the teachings of Lord Buddha, the enlightened son of Nepal.

The relevance of these principles as a framework for interstate relations cannot be overstated in the present context.

Principles and purposes of the UN Charter, non-alignment, international law and norms of world peace form the basis of our foreign policy.

The present government of Nepal led by Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba is committed to conduct the foreign policy on the basis of sovereign equality, mutual respect, and mutual benefit and remains engaged with all friendly countries in the wider international community.

Nepal firmly believes in the indispensability of multilateralism with the United Nations as its centre. We consider this the only way to build global understanding and cooperation, promote shared interests, and secure our common future.

We add our voices in support of the measures and initiatives aimed at UN reforms. Under-representation of developing countries must be addressed in recognition of their growing contributions.

We want to see a more representative, inclusive, and transparent Security Council and a more revitalized General Assembly. Reforms must be inclusive and representative, accountable, and effective in its delivery.

We consider regional cooperation arrangements important for building trust and confidence among nations, managing harmonious relations and making the best use of complementarities for shared prosperity. Nepal’s active engagement in SAARC, BIMSTEC and ACD manifests our ardent faith in regional cooperation, connectivity, and integration.

Over the last sixty-five years, Nepal and the United Nations have enjoyed a strong partnership- driven by trust, cooperation, and mutual respect. We thank the United Nations for its continued support in our development endeavors.

Nepal commends the Secretary-General for bringing out a comprehensive report ‘Our Common Agenda’. We support the report’s focus on the agenda of action designed to accelerate the implementation of existing commitments.

Mr. President,

We live in troubled times. There has been dramatic shift in geopolitics and geo-economics in the post-Cold War era posing unprecedented challenges on all fronts.

The world’s economic center of gravity is shifting decisively towards Asia, centered on the economic growth of China and India.

At the same time, the world is becoming more complicated and polarized, with transnational challenges ranging from terrorism to climate change to food security to mass migration to political radicalism and extremism.

Under the cumulative impact of all these factors, we are experiencing with new ways of life in the midst of confusion and uncertainty.

We see conflicts in different parts of the world, these conflicts are more within nations than between nations. This has given rise to identity politics.  Nations find themselves increasingly divided along lines of race, ethnicity, gender and religion.

We must find a common ground and practice tolerance and harmony to confront these unimaginable problems. My delegation considers that democracy and multilateralism have no alternative to overcome the stresses and strains of the day. It is also the best antidote to the risk of civil conflict in ethnically diverse societies.

I feel happy to share with this august audience that the unity in vast diversity is Nepal’s national strength. Thanks to the democratic culture and harmonious way of life, Nepali people’s resilience in times of hardships and sufferings has remained exemplary as seen in the aftermath of the devastating earthquakes of 2015, and the COVID-19 pandemic in recent times.

As I stand here today, my thoughts go back to 1960, when the first elected Prime Minister of Nepal, late B.P. Koirala, while addressing the UN General Assembly, said, and I quote,

“As we look at the world, we find that it is the economic disparity between countries, as between the rich and the poor people within the nation, that is the source of much friction and tension. …….The main function of the United Nations at the present moment is the creation or recreation of a climate of confidence and trust.”

End of quote.

Creating a climate of confidence and trust is as relevant today as it was in 1960.  It is upon us to work together for a more equitable, just, fair, resilient, and sustainable world.

In conclusion, I believe the time is now to turn the crisis into opportunity, despair into hope, and risk into resilience.

The time is now to build a stronger, interconnected, and inclusive multilateral system grounded in cooperation, solidarity and mutual trust.

We must rise to our responsibility to re-build for the sake of the people we serve and the planet we live in.

I thank you for your attention.

Remarks As Prepared for Delivery of Ambassador Katherine Tai Outlining the Biden-Harris Administration’s “New Approach to the U.S.-China Trade Relationship”

Hello, everyone.  Thank you for being here.  I want to thank John Hamre, Bill Reinsch, and the Center for Strategic & International Studies for hosting me today.  CSIS plays a vital role in our foreign policy discourse.  It is fitting that I am here speaking to you about one of the most important global issues. 

I have said this before and I will continue to say it: the U.S.-China trade and economic relationship is one of profound consequence.  As the two largest economies in the world, how we relate to each other does not just affect our two countries. It impacts the entire world and billions of workers.

This bilateral relationship is complex and competitive.  President Biden welcomes that competition to support American workers, grow our economy, and create jobs at home.  

He believes we need to manage the competition responsibly – and ensure that it is fair.  

For too long, China’s lack of adherence to global trading norms has undercut the prosperity of Americans and others around the world.  

In recent years, Beijing has doubled down on its state-centered economic system.  It is increasingly clear that China’s plans do not include meaningful reforms to address the concerns that have been shared by the United States and many other countries.  

We have a lot of work to do.

To be successful, we must be direct and honest about the challenges we face and the grave risk from leaving them unaddressed.  We must explore all options to chart the most effective path forward.

When it comes to our relationship with China, what’s best for American workers is growing the American economy to create more opportunity and more jobs with better wages here in the United States.  

As the United States Trade Representative, I intend to deliver on President Biden’s vision for a worker-centered trade policy in the U.S.-China trade dynamic.  We need to show that trade policy can be a force for good in the lives of everyday people.  

We will create durable trade policy that benefits a broad range of stakeholders by rebuilding trust with our workers and aligning our domestic and foreign policies.

President Biden has been clear: the key to our global competitiveness and creating shared prosperity begins at home.  We have to make smart domestic investments to increase our own competitiveness.  We must invest in research and development and clean energy technology, strengthen our manufacturing base, and incentivize companies to Buy American up and down the supply chain.

We already accomplished some of that work with the American Rescue Plan, the Administration’s focus on supply chain resilience, and our investments in our technological leadership.  The Administration is working closely with Congress to build on those actions with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal and the Build Back Better agenda.

In terms of U.S.-China trade, in recent months, the Biden-Harris Administration has conducted a comprehensive review.

And today, I will lay out the starting point of our Administration’s strategic vision for realigning our trade policies towards China to defend the interests of America’s workers, businesses, farmers and producers, and strengthen our middle class.  

First, we will discuss with China its performance under the Phase One Agreement.  China made commitments that benefit certain American industries, including agriculture, that we must enforce.  

President Biden will continue to promote our economic interests – and build confidence for American industry.

Second, we will start a targeted tariff exclusion process.  We will ensure that the existing enforcement structure optimally serves our economic interests.  We will keep open the potential for additional exclusion processes, as warranted. 

Third, we continue to have serious concerns with China’s state-centered and non-market trade practices that were not addressed in the Phase One deal.  As we work to enforce the terms of Phase One, we will raise these broader policy concerns with Beijing.  

And we will use the full range of tools we have and develop new tools as needed to defend American economic interests from harmful policies and practices.

Finally and critically, we will continue to work with allies to shape the rules for fair trade in the 21st century, and facilitate a race to the top for market economies and democracies.

Before I get into further details around our plans, I would like to reflect on how the U.S.-China trade relationship has evolved in recent decades – and how we got to where we are today.

From the late 1970s to mid-1980s, China went from the world’s eleventh-largest economy to the eighth-largest.  U.S. exports to China increased approximately four-fold, while imports grew 14 times in less than 1 0 years.  

This economic growth set the stage for China’s efforts to join the WTO.   

The world faced an important challenge at that time: how to integrate a state-led economy into a trade institution created by those dedicated to open, market-oriented principles.

In grappling with this dilemma, some believed there would be huge boosts in industrial and agricultural exports to China and its growing middle class.  Others argued that accelerated and massive job losses would result. 

In the end, China officially joined the WTO in December 2001. 

Over the next decade and a half, the United States pursued a dual-track approach with Beijing.

One track involved annual high-level dialogues between U.S. and Chinese officials over three successive presidential administrations.  These talks were intended to push China towards complying with and internalizing WTO rules and norms, and making other market-oriented changes.  

But those commitments became more difficult to secure over the years, and China’s follow-through was inconsistent and impossible to enforce. 

The other track focused on dispute settlement cases at the WTO.  We brought 27 cases against China, including some I litigated myself, and through collaboration with our allies.  We secured victories in every case that was decided.  Still, even when China changed the specific practices we challenged, it did not change the underlying policies, and meaningful reforms by China remained elusive.  

In recent years, China’s leaders have doubled-down on their state-centric economic model. 

Faced with the reality that neither the dialogue nor the enforcement tracks were producing meaningful changes, the previous administration decided to use a different paradigm – unilateral U.S. pressure – to try to change Beijing’s practices. 

It launched an investigation focused on China’s forced IP and technology transfer policies – longstanding and serious problems.  This led to substantial U.S. tariffs on imports from China – and retaliation by China.  Against this backdrop of rising tensions, in January 2020, the previous administration and China agreed to what is commonly referred to as the “Phase One Agreement.”  

This agreement includes a limited set of commitments.  These cover China’s obligations regarding intellectual property and technology transfer, purchases of American products, and improved market access for the agriculture and financial services sectors.  

It has stabilized the market, especially for U.S. agricultural exports. But our analysis indicates that while commitments in certain areas have been met, and certain business interests have seen benefits, there have been shortfalls in others. 

But the reality is, this agreement did not meaningfully address the fundamental concerns that we have with China’s trade practices and their harmful impacts on the U.S. economy.

Even with the Phase One Agreement in place, China’s government continues to pour billions of dollars into targeted industries and continues to shape its economy to the will of the state – hurting the interests of workers here in the U.S and around the world.  

Let’s look at the steel industry.  In 2000, there were more than 100 U.S. steel companies.  We produced 100 million metric tons of steel annually and the industry employed 136,000 people in communities across the country.

Soon after, China started building its own steel plants.  Its production capacity ballooned, depriving U.S. steel companies of valuable market opportunities.  Low priced Chinese steel flooded the global market, driving out businesses in the United States and around the world.  

Every steel plant that shuttered left hundreds of workers without livelihoods.  It also left communities reeling, as small businesses dependent on plants also closed their doors and blighted buildings brought down real estate values. 

Today, China produces over one billion metric tons annually – and accounts for nearly 60 percent of global steel production.  China produces more steel in a single month than the United States and most other countries in the world produce in an entire year.  In the U.S., employment in the steel industry has dropped 40 percent since 2000.  

We see the impact of China’s unfair policies in the production of photovoltaic solar cells.  The United States was once a global leader in what was then an emerging industry.  But as China built out its own industry, our companies were forced to close their doors.  

Today, China represents 80 percent of global production – and large parts of the solar supply chain don’t even exist in the United States.

U.S. agriculture has not been spared either.  While we have seen more exports to China in recent years, market share is shrinking and agriculture remains an unpredictable sector for U.S. farmers and ranchers who have come to rely heavily on this market.  China’s regulatory authorities continue to deploy measures that limit or threaten the market access for our producers – and their bottom line.  

We also see troubling dynamics playing out today with the semiconductor industry.  In 2014, China issued an industrial plan to announce “the goal of establishing a world-leading semiconductor industry…by 2030.”  Reportedly, China has already spent at least $150 billion on this effort, with more on the way.  Its intentions are clear, just as they were with steel and solar.  

Those policies have reinforced a zero-sum dynamic in the world economy where China’s growth and prosperity come at the expense of workers and economic opportunity here in the U.S. and other market-based, democratic economies.   

That is why we need to take a new, holistic, and pragmatic approach in our relationship with China that can actually further our strategic and economic objectives – for the near-term and the long-term.  

As our economic relationship with China evolves, so too must our tactics to defend our interests.  As the years go by, the stakes keep getting higher and boosting American competitiveness becomes all the more important.  

Our strategy must address these concerns, while also being flexible and agile to confront future challenges from China that may arise. 

So how do we accomplish this?

Unlike the past, this administration will engage from a position of strength because we are investing in our workers and our infrastructure.

Repairing our roads and bridges, modernizing our ports, and delivering expanded broadband are the kinds of investments that will begin to give American workers and businesses the boost needed to embrace their global competitiveness.  

And we must harness and leverage the talent of our people by investing in education and worker training – investments that are included in the President’s Build Back Better plan. We also need to re-double our own efforts to be the most innovative country in the world by researching, developing, and creating new and emerging technology.

China and other countries have been investing in their infrastructure for decades.  If we are going to compete in the global market, we need to make equal or greater investments here at home.   

That continuous investment ensures we can maintain our competitive edge throughout the 21st century. 

Beyond our domestic investments, in the coming days, I intend to have frank conversations with my counterpart in China. 

That will include discussion over China’s performance under the Phase One Agreement.

And we will also directly engage with China on its industrial policies. Our objective is not to inflame trade tensions with China.

Durable coexistence requires accountability and respect for the enormous consequences of our actions.  I am committed to working through the many challenges ahead in this bilateral process in order to deliver meaningful results.

But above all else, we must defend – to the hilt – our economic interests.  

That means taking all steps necessary to protect ourselves against the waves of damage inflicted over the years through unfair competition.  We need to be prepared to deploy all tools and explore the development of new ones, including through collaboration with other economies and countries.  And we must chart a new course to change the trajectory of our bilateral trade dynamic.

And vitally, we will work closely with our allies and like-minded partners towards building truly fair international trade that enables healthy competition.

I have been working to strengthen our alliances through bilateral, regional, and multilateral engagement.  And I will continue to do so.

The agreements we reached in June with the EU and the UK to resolve the large civil aircraft disputes at the WTO demonstrate President Biden’s commitment to work with our partners to create a more level playing field for our workers. 

Just last week, I co-chaired the first meeting of the U.S.-E.U. Trade and Technology Council.  As Europe strengthens its own defenses against non-market practices, we will work with them to ensure that our collective policies deliver.

In the G7, G20, and at the WTO, we are discussing market distortions and other unfair trade practices, such as the use of forced labor in the fisheries sector, and in global supply chains, including in Xinjiang.

In the coming months and years, we will build off of this work.

Our goal is to bring deliberative, stable, long-term thinking to our approach – and to work through bilateral and multilateral channels.  The core of our strategy is a commitment to ensuring we work with our allies to create fair and open markets.

There is a future in which all of us in the global economy can grow and succeed – where prosperity is inclusive within our own borders and across those borders too.  

The path we have been on did not take us there.  President Biden’s priorities that I’ve laid out today are aimed at achieving a shared prosperity that is good for our workers, producers, and businesses; good for our allies; and good for the global economy.  

Thank you. 

Speech by Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for Finance, at The Temasek's Singapore Sustainable Investing & Financing Conference 2021

Mr Lim Boon Heng, Chairman of Temasek Holdings

Ms Ho Ching, Executive Director and CEO of Temasek Holdings

Mr Dilhan Pillay, Executive Director and CEO of Temasek International

Excellencies, Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

Introduction

1. I am very happy to join you this morning for the inaugural Singapore Sustainable Investing and Financing Conference.

2. As we saw from the video just now, Covid-19 has truly changed the world as we know it.  We now have a taste of what a global public health disaster could look like.

a. But we also know there is a much larger crisis looming ahead for humanity, and that is the threat of climate change.

b. Covid-19 may turn out to be a dress rehearsal for the depredations as well as the tragedies that this climate emergency could bring.

c. But as highlighted in this conference, “From Crisis to Opportunity”, the pandemic can also be a turning point for positive change – to bring greater focus and urgency in our efforts to reduce global emissions.  

3. Throughout this pandemic, individuals, businesses and governments have come together to flatten the infection curve.  
 

a. Climate change doesn’t happen as quickly as the spread of the SARS-CoV2 virus. 

b. But the earth is warming faster than previously thought and the window to avoid catastrophic outcomes is closing.

4. So we must now come together to flatten the curve of greenhouse gas emissions, in fact, we cannot just flatten, but we must bring it down to net zero, in order to avert the climate pandemic. 
 

a. All of us can and must do our part as individuals in this endeavour – change our lifestyle and habits, and reduce our personal carbon footprint.

b. But individual efforts can only go so far. We also need system-level solutions for effective and permanent change. 

c. Some of this has to be achieved through inter-governmental agreements like those fostered by the UNFCCC.

d. At the same time, the banking, finance and investment communities play a critical role in facilitating investments in renewable energy solutions and carbon-neutral technologies.

Role of Banking, Investment and Finance Industry 

5. Even from a narrow investment perspective, there are good reasons why we need to start changing our thinking in this area.  
 

a. Because as we continue to decarbonize the global economy, the demand for fossil fuels will wane.

b. Large investments in coal mines or oil wells may lose their value.  

c. So there is a very real risk of these assets ceasing to be profitable and becoming stranded.  

6. That is why all of us in the industry have to take ESG considerations seriously.  
 

a. In the past, investors were not always so sure about taking into account ESG factors in their investment decisions. 

b. Even now, I think you heard the emcee say from the survey results, it is not a hundred percent; but in the past, this used to be worse, because people worried that ESG would not be consistent with their fiduciary responsibilities to their clients. Their fiduciary duty is to maximise returns on the portfolio with the given risk, and the concern was that ESG would be in conflict with this.  

c. Today, I think more and more have shifted their position in recognising that ESG is completely consistent with their fiduciary duties. They now view investment decision-making through the lens of their larger responsibilities to their clients, which includes considerations for long-term sustainability. 

7. These are positive developments. But the industry as a whole still needs to do much more to enable the transition to a low-carbon future.  In particular, there are several critical enablers that will help accelerate this move. 

8. First, we need clarity for investors, in the form of consistent and credible definitions of both “green” and “transition”, to provide assurance that such activities are truly contributing to our decarbonisation objectives.
 

a. This will facilitate investments in such activities and help close the sizeable financing gap. 

b. For example, ASEAN alone will need an estimated USD$200 billion in green investments annually through 2030.

c. So efforts to develop a regional taxonomy will increase the integrity of ASEAN’s sustainable finance market and help make our green and transition assets and projects more investible.

d. We should also recognise the role of transition sectors and activities in our taxonomies, in order to ensure that capital can be directed to activities that are shifting to a greener trajectory and have a strategy for longer-term decarbonisation.

9. Second, we need to improve the availability, quality and comparability of data to enable companies, financial institutions and investors to measure progress towards sustainability goals and measure the impact of their operations and investments. This is a critical issue because data acquisition today is largely manual; it is costly, it is cumbersome, and still prone to errors.
 

a. In this regard, technology can and should be a potential solution and it is heartening to see the use of artificial intelligence, satellite imagery and Internet of Things (IoT) devices in a range of use cases. All of this can help to increase data accuracy and granularity.

10. Third, besides good data, we need to implement a consistent set of global standards for disclosures and reporting. 
 

a. The good news, of course, as all of you know, is that more global monies are going into ESG investments – on average, two new ESG funds are launched every day. 

b. Unfortunately, this has been accompanied by rampant “greenwashing”.  Two years ago, the Wall Street Journal reported that 8 out of 10 of the biggest “sustainable” funds in the US were in fact invested in oil companies. There is less greenwashing these days, but it still happened. 

c. So, we need greater consistency and reliability of disclosures.

d. This will then help investors put their money into truly green firms, ensure a better allocation of capital, and a faster energy transition.  

Singapore and Green Finance

11. I have highlighted three enablers around taxonomy, data, and disclosure.
 
12. Singapore is active in shaping these efforts, both regionally and internationally.
 

a. On taxonomy – the Green Finance Industry Taskforce, convened by the MAS, is developing a taxonomy for Singapore-based financial institutions.  We are also actively participating in efforts to develop a regional taxonomy, to take into account international goals while tailoring it to ASEAN’s context and circumstances. 

b. On data – MAS recently launched Project Greenprint, which aims to harness technology and data to mobilise capital for ESG projects, monitor their commitments and measure their impact.

c. And on disclosures – MAS and SGX are setting out roadmaps for mandatory climate-related financial disclosures by financial institutions and listed entities. 

13. We are taking all of these efforts seriously. We do so in Singapore because, for us as a low-lying city-state, climate change is an existential issue. 
 

a. That is why we are also advancing our national agenda on sustainable development. We are putting together the Singapore Green Plan 2030, with ambitious and concrete targets over the next 10 years, covering infrastructure, urban planning, economic and financial markets. 

b. The right carbon price is also critical in ensuring that the costs of carbon are properly internalised, and help bring about a reduction in emissions.  

c. MOF is presently reviewing the level and trajectory of our carbon tax, and we will give an update on this important matter in next year’s Budget. So, look forward to the Budget next year.

14. In addition, we are looking at several initiatives to expand our green finance ecosystem, to better serve the needs of Singapore and the region.

Scale up the carbon credits market

15. Let me touch on three initiatives.

16. First, on the market for carbon credits.  We know many organisations will find it hard to eliminate their emissions or even lessen them as quickly as they like.  They will want to use high quality carbon credits to offset emissions they cannot get rid of by other means.  

17. This market for voluntary carbon credits is huge. It’s also important because carbon credits can help direct private financing to climate-action projects that would otherwise not get off the ground.  

18. So the Government is happy to support private sector initiatives to develop the carbon credit market in Singapore. One example is Climate Impact X – many of you would know about this – it is a joint initiative by Temasek, DBS, SGX and Standard Chartered Bank.

19. We are excited about this and other similar initiatives, because of the potential for Singapore to become a carbon services and trading hub for the region.  Carbon markets today tend to be fragmented and complex.  

20. Asia, in time to come, will need a voluntary carbon market that is large, comprehensive, transparent, verifiable and environmentally robust.  We will do our utmost to support the development of such a market in Singapore.  

Catalyse sustainable financing and investing

21. Second, we will catalyse sustainable financing and investing, to grow the supply and demand for green investments.

22. The Government will lead the way by laying out the framework and rules, test run them with our own issuance, and find ways to convene and connect the different stakeholders.
 

a. For example, National Environment Agency (NEA) is the first Statutory Board to establish a $3b multicurrency medium term note (MTN) and green bond framework, in support of our green finance market.

b. Under my ministry, MOF, we have also set up a new Green Bonds Programme Office (GBPO) to catalyse the Government’s efforts in the area. This office will develop the framework and work with Statutory Boards on green bond programme development, as well as undertake industry engagement and manage investor relations.

23. Individuals, SMEs and large corporates will also need access to sustainable financing. 
 

a. MAS will facilitate the issuance of sustainable financing instruments, including green and sustainability-linked bonds and loans.

b. This will support corporates in accessing financing as they invest in green projects and transition towards more sustainable business practices.

24. With its Green Investments Programme, MAS is also attracting more green funds and asset managers with a strong sustainability focus. These are managers with a good track record of sustainability investing, robust stewardship policies, and a strong understanding of balancing returns objective with sustainability goals. This will help to grow our sustainable financing ecosystem.

25. We recognise that public efforts alone will not cover the scale of climate change mitigation in the region. So we are also heartened to see efforts from the private sector to help close funding gaps for sustainable projects.

26. One such example is the partnership between HSBC and Temasek, and supported by the ADB and Clifford Capital, to establish a sustainable financing platform in this area, with an initial focus on Southeast Asia. This was just announced this morning. 
 

a. This sustainable financing platform will catalyse capital flows to the sustainable infrastructure space.

b. It will do so by deploying blended finance at scale over time, in other words, to bring in more capital from different sources, to unlock more marginally bankable projects and create a tradable asset class and sustainable infrastructure. 

c. With this, and similar initiatives, we hope that more infrastructure projects in Asia, which have faced varying degrees of barriers to bankability, can receive support for project development, technical assistance and blended finance solutions.

d. And I will strongly encourage everyone in the private sector to continue identifying opportunities and to leverage on partnerships in this blended finance space, to address climate change financing collectively.

Building capacity

27. This brings me to the third area, which is to build strong capabilities and expertise in our Singaporean finance community to support green finance.

28. We need new capabilities and skillsets. For example,
 

a. We need specialised expertise to quantify environmental benefits and the costs of projects;

b. We need to estimate how environmental costs can translate into future default risks;

c. We need to develop tools for reporting the sustainability metrics of various projects and business lines. These are not all things that are covered in a traditional finance curriculum. It is interdisciplinary. You need to know more about Environmental Science; about the risk of climate change. So we do need to build these capabilities. 

29. Our Institutions of Higher Learning are attuned to these needs, and are updating their curriculum to ensure their graduates are equipped with the relevant skills.

30. At the same time, MAS has supported the establishment of a number of sustainable finance Centres of Excellence to meet the demand for expertise and Asian-centric research in this area. This includes the National University of Singapore's Sustainable and Green Finance Institute, which was announced earlier this month. 

Conclusion

31. I have touched on three areas on the initiatives we are embarking on around carbon credits markets, sustainable finance solutions and products, as well as building new capabilities. We will be working on all three fronts and we welcome stakeholders and partners to join us in this collective endeavour.

32. To conclude, the Covid-19 pandemic has reminded us of the fragility of our expanding, resource-hungry civilisation, and our reliance on massive but unfortunately unsustainable infrastructure for food and water on a planet with finite resources.
 

a. When you look ahead at the scale of the challenge, it can truly be overwhelming.

b. But our response to this pandemic also gives us reason to be hopeful too.

c. We have seen throughout this pandemic that it is possible to change our ways when we must. We have also seen how the indomitable human spirit can and will always prevail against all odds.

33. So we have an opportunity now, to get off the path of climate distress, and onto a healthier path for humanity. (17:13)
 

a. The choices we all make in finance and investments matter. It matters greatly. 

b. So I encourage all of us to do our part towards a greener and more sustainable future for Singapore, for the region and for the world. 

 

Good afternoon.

We have just finished a meeting with Allied National Security Advisers.

Today’s meeting was a significant step towards the NATO Summit in Madrid next year, where we will continue our military and political adaptation.

First of all, we heard yet again an affirmation from the US on its rock-solid commitment to NATO, and the determination to strengthen alliances.

National security advisers reviewed progress in key areas on the NATO agenda.

 

This includes enhancing our deterrence and defence, by strengthening NATO as the framework for the collective defence of the Euro-Atlantic area.

We are also reinforcing our resilience,
and we are accelerating our work on cyber adaptation, technological innovation and climate change and security.

We are stepping up our efforts to uphold the rules-based international order.
Working more closely with likeminded partners around the world, including in the Asia-Pacific.

We also discussed NATO’s next Strategic Concept, which will be agreed at the Madrid Summit.
It will be the blueprint for our future adaptation.
Reaffirming NATO’s values, purpose and tasks.

And we addressed the importance of spending more on defence and investing in the capabilities the Alliance needs for our shared security.
This includes additional funding to cover all three NATO budgets – military, civil and infrastructure.
During the discussion, Allies also underlined the importance of NATO-EU cooperation. We have made substantial progress over the last few years, not least through the two Joint Declarations. I am currently working with President von der Leyen, and President Charles Michel towards a new NATO-EU Declaration to be signed in December.

We also discussed the lessons that can be drawn from the Alliance’s twenty-year engagement in Afghanistan.

After many rounds of consultations, Allies agreed together to withdraw their remaining troops from the country. 
This was not an easy decision, and we knew there were risks.

 

Today we addressed the need for NATO to do its part to help preserve the gains made in the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan.

We also discussed the recent AUKUS deal, which led to disagreements among some Allies.
This agreement is not directed against Europe or NATO.
And there is broad agreement that we should not allow this issue to cause a rift in the transatlantic alliance.

As Allies, we do not always see eye-to-eye on everything, all of the time.
But we never lose sight of the big picture.

 

At a time of increased global competition, Europe and North America must continue to stand strong together in NATO.

The security challenges we face are too great for any country or continent to face alone.

And together in NATO, we will continue to protect our nations, our people and our values.

With that, I am ready to take your questions.

Oana Lungescu, spokesperson:  We will take questions both here in the room and virtually and we will start in the room with Matthias Kolb from Suddeutsche Zeitung.

Matthias Kolb (SDZ): Secretary General, two questions, if I may. Can you elaborate a little bit more what Jake Sullivan said today about the American view of AUKUS and how this new security effect will affect NATO in the future? And you said recently in a podcast interview that you understand the French disappointment with AUKUS. Are you afraid that NATO's planned cooperation with the Asia-Pacific partners and especially with Australia could be affected, or slowed down by the recent developments? Thanks.

Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General:  Well, NATO leaders made the decision to strengthen and step up our cooperation with our Asia Pacific partners, when they met at the summit in June. And of course, NATO will follow up and implement those decisions made by our leaders. That includes also stepping up cooperation with Australia as one of the four Asia Pacific partners of NATO.

The AUKUS deal is not directed against Europe or NATO, and there is there is broad agreement that we should prevent bilateral disputes between the Allies to cause a rift within the alliance, and to undermine the Transatlantic Alliance and the cooperation we have within NATO.

Then I will also, of course, once again, reiterate what I said before that I understand the disappointment by France, at the same time I'm absolutely confident that the Allies involved will find a way forward, and also welcome the joint statement from President Biden and President Macron. The issue was, of course, discussed in the meeting today, but again, these kind of disagreements should not create rifts within the Alliance and reduce the Transatlantic, the strength of transatlantic relationship.

Oana Lungescu, spokesperson: For the next question, we'll go to Rikard Jozwiak from Radio Free Europe, who should be coming through from Prague.

Rikard Jozwiak (Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty): That's correct. I hope you hear me. Okay. A question about yesterday's news about the expulsion of Russian military officers from NATO HQ.  I wonder if you can expand a bit more, why this happened now. If you can say a bit whether they were carrying out military intelligence activities at the NATO HQ, and if these expulsions have anything to do with alleged GRU activities in NATO Member States such as Czech Republic and Bulgaria, earlier this year.

Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General:  We have withdrawn the accreditation of eight members of the Russian Mission to NATO, who were undeclared Russian intelligence officers.

This decision is not linked to any particular event, but we have seen over some time now an increase in Russian malign activity, and therefore we need to be vigilant, and of course, we need to act when we see that members of the Russian delegation to NATO conduct activities, which are not in line with their accreditation.  Therefore, their accreditation is withdrawn.

Oana Lungescu, spokesperson:  We'll go to Jane's Brooks Tigner, also online.

Brooks Tigner (Jane’s Defence Weekly):  Yes. Can you hear me? Fine. You mentioned that the NATO Security Advisors reviewed the lessons learned on how to preserve the counter terrorist gains Alliance made in Afghanistan, that's fine. But the risk is of course that terrorism will spill over to other parts of the world, which leads me to my question.

Is there any sense or evolving consensus among the national security advisors that the Allies should turn their Counter Terrorists attention to the security problems of North Africa, and especially to Sahel, and do that in a more concrete, and operational manner? Or does NATO still consider that off limits, regarding direct operational involvement in that region? Thank you.

Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General:  The NATO remains at the forefront in the fight against international terrorism, and we went into Afghanistan to prevent that country from being a safe haven for terrorist organizations, to organize and prepare, plan attacks against our own countries as they did in 2001/09/11. And for 20 years, we have been able to prevent Afghanistan being a safe haven and also demonstrating that our mission there was not in vain. Now we will continue to be vigilant, continue to work together to ensure that Afghanistan, not once again becomes a platform where organized, where terrorist organizations can organize, plan, can conduct terrorist attacks against our own countries.

But of course, we are also addressing terrorist threats in other countries than Afghanistan.
Therefore, NATO has, as one of its core tasks, crisis management and that also includes the fight against terrorism.

We are part of the global coalition to defeat Daesh. NATO Allies and the global coalition and NATO has made enormous progress in that fight by liberating the territory that ISIS or Daesh controlled in Iraq and in Syria, helping to do so. We continue to be vigilant, not least by providing support to Iraq, we are stepping up our training, train, assist, advise mission in Iraq to ensure that Daesh, ISIS is not able to return.

We are also working with other partners like Tunisia and Jordan to help build capacity, strengthen their counterterrorism capabilities. Because we strongly believe that train and build local capacity is one of the best weapons we have in the fight against international terrorism, therefore we also worked together with partners at other places in the world, including in North Africa, to do so.  Some NATO allies are also involved in different operations and military presence in Northern Africa, Sahel.  The NATO Procurement and Support Agency (NSPA) is actually providing some support to these Allies with logistics, with support, with supplies. So NATO and NATO Allies are involved, and we will constantly assess how we can organize our efforts in the best possible way to make sure that we all work together to fight the national terrorism.

Oana Lungescu, spokesperson:  Thank you, and we'll come back to the room to Iryna Somer from Interfax - Ukraine.

Iryna Somer (Interfax-Ukraine): Thank you Oana. Secretary General, coming back to your speech in Georgetown University with the students. It was a really good one, thank you so much. And you were talking about aspirant countries Ukraine and Georgia. And you said that we need to help more, and then you also said that you hope that during upcoming summit ambitious decision will be taken. So what actually do you have in mind, what kind of ambitious decision do you expect? Will it be in format of Summit declaration, or it will be in your Strategic Concept?  And do you consult with these aspirant countries? And by the way, do you have a date for the Summit yet. Thank you.

Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General:  Yes, we have a date in mind...that is twenty… but we have not yet announced it, sorry, so that we will do, you will get the date soon. Then on the decisions... Well, I think it's a bit early now to prejudge exactly what kind of decisions leaders will make at the Summit later on next year. But I'm absolutely confident that Allies will continue to stand by what they have stated before, and that is that we fully support the territorial integrity and sovereignty of our close partners, Georgia and Ukraine. We also stand by our decisions when it comes to their aspirations to join NATO. We will continue to provide practical and political support, so they can move towards further Euro-Atlantic integration. I welcome the fact that NATO Allies, both within the NATO framework, but also bilaterally provide support and thereby help both Ukraine and Georgia.

I met with the President of Ukraine just a couple of weeks ago in New York. We are continuing to strengthen our cooperation and partnership both with Ukraine and Georgia, and then this will be an issue, we will address as we prepare for the upcoming Summit in Madrid, next year.

Oana Lungescu, spokesperson:  For our last question, we'll go back online to Alf Bjarne Johnsen from VG.

Alf Bjarne Johnsen (Verdens Gang): I thank you. I would like you to elaborate a little bit more about Russia, because the NATO-Russia Council have not met, I think since July 2019, and in addition to the revoke of the accreditations, the Russian delegation, the number of Russian diplomats accredited to NATO is reduced from I think there were 30 when you arrived in NATO Mr. Stoltenberg. Now they have maximum 10. So how do NATO motivate that decision on reducing the number, and if you would elaborate on the current NATO-Russian relations in general. And is this the time to for any NATO voices inside to consider easing of the 2014 restrictions and sanctions on Russia. Thank you.

Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General:  The relationship between NATO and Russia is at its lowest point since the end of the Cold War. And that's because of the Russian behaviour. We have seen their aggressive actions not least against Ukraine, but also the significant military build-up, and violations of important arms control agreements, like for instance the INF Treaty that led to the demise of these treaty that actually banned all the intermediate-range weapon systems.

The decision to withdraw the accreditation of 8 members of the Russian delegation to NATO was done based on intelligence, was done because these are undeclared Russian intelligence officers. And we have seen an increase in Russian malign activities, at least in Europe and therefore we need to act.

NATO’s position, and approach to Russia is consistent and clear, we base it on our dual-track approach deterrence-defense and dialogue. We are ready to engage in meaningful dialogue with Russia. We are ready also to convene a NATO-Russia Council meeting; we have actually invited Russia for a long time. So far, Russia has not responded positively.  Therefore, there has not been any meeting in the NATO-Russia Council but we are ready to meet, because we believe that to sit down to talk is always important, but especially important when times are difficult, tensions are high as they are now and therefore, we will continue to strive for a meaningful dialogue with Russia.

I met with Minister Lavrov, at the UN during the UN General Assembly not too many days ago.  We were not able to agree on convening a new meeting on the NATO-Russia Council, but I and NATO we remain ready to do so as soon as Russia is ready to meet us.

Oana Lungescu, spokesperson:  Thank you very much. This concludes this press conference. Thank you.