United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Saturday said that the UN would strongly advocate for ‘debt swaps’, with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank through which developing countries like Pakistan, instead of paying a debt to foreign creditors, would be able to use that money to invest in climate resilience, investments in sustainable infrastructure, and green transition of their economies.
Talking to the media upon his arrival at Karachi’s old airport after visiting several areas of Pakistan ravaged by floods, he said, “We will go on strongly advocating for these solutions in the meetings with IMF and World Bank, which will take place soon. And, also in G-20 meeting.”
The UN chief said he had been strongly advocating for ‘debt swaps’, and that was exactly what Pakistan needed.
Earlier, a video released by the Prime Minister’s Office showed Guterres seated next to Shehbaz Sharif viewing flood-damaged areas from an aircraft window. “Unimaginable”, Guterres said, surveying the damage. Visiting the areas, he said the situation was very unfair, as he called on the world to play their part to help countries that have not contributed to global emissions.
He also called for increased global financial support. “Today its Pakistan, tomorrow it could be your country wherever you live. This is a global crisis … it requires a global response,” Guterres told a news conference at the end of his two-day visit. “It is a question of justice… Pakistan is paying the price of something that was created by others,” he said.
He said that humanity had been waging a war on nature and the nature was now striking back.
“I have seen many disasters around the world but I have never seen climate carnage of this scale,” he said.
He went on to say that it was essential for the international community to understand that Pakistan, including Sindh, “needs today massive financial support to overcome these crises”.
He said it was not a matter of generosity but of justice with those who were suffering. He said the world needed to stop “this madness with which we are treating nature”.
“According to the scientific community, we need to reduce emissions by 45 per cent now,” the UN chief said, calling on the world to provide massive support to work on adaptation and to build resilient infrastructure, to support resilient communities and to create conditions for those who were in the hotspots of climate change, including Pakistan. “And this needs a huge investment. That’s why we are asking for a strong increase in financing of resilience infrastructure and adaption,” he said.