By ALFRED GABOT
Editor in Chief
NEW YORK – In his first address before world leaders in the United Nations, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. called for stronger cooperation on climate change, agriculture, and food security even as he highlighted the contributions made by the Philippines in promoting peace and justice in the world.
Marcos, the first Philippine leader to physically attend the UN General Assembly in eight years where he is expected to meet with US President Joe Biden and other world leaders for bilateral talks, described climate change as the “greatest threat affecting our nations and peoples.”
“There is no other problem so global in nature that it requires a united effort, one led by the United Nations. The effects of climate change are uneven and reflect a historical injustice. Those who are least responsible suffer the most,” said Marcos who joined other leaders in echoing their concerns on the adverse effects of climate change globally.
Before addressing the UN, Marcos, accompanied by First Lady Liza Araneta Marcos and several Cabinet members, met with the Filipino community from US and Canada at the jampacked New Jersey Performing Arts Center, acknowledging their sacrifices and contribution to economic recovery and lauding the Filipino doctors, nurses and other frontliners in the fight against the pandemic in US.
Marcos also said that 40 percent of the record $34.8 billion remittances of overseas Filipinos came from the US and Canada.
“Bouncing back from the pandemic, the Philippine economy has seen robust growth since last year and has returned to its path toward upper-middle-income country status, achievable withinthe next few years,” Marcos said in a speech at the NYSE, adding the country increased the scope for mutually beneficial investments that would mean more jobs and a better quality of life.
Marcos also called for the elimination of racism and Asian hate as he pledged to accelerate the implementation of a human rights joint programme with the United Nations.
“We still dream of an end to the disturbing incidents of racism, of Asian hate, of all prejudice,” Marcos said in a speech at the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
The Philippines-United Nations Joint Programme on Human Rights, he said, is an example of a constructive approach that “puts our people, not our politics, at the center of this work.”
“It provides a model for revitalizing the structures that facilitates solidarity between the United Nations and a sovereign duty-bearer,” added Marcos.
“We are, indeed, at a watershed moment; one that requires a re-founding of these, our United Nations,” said Marcos. “The world is ready for transformation. It is up to us as leaders of our nations to move and shape that transformation.”
Marcos raised the need to invest in food security to ease a growing global food security crisis as he noted that the coronavirus pandemic and Russia-Ukraine conflict have revealed difficulties in accessing food worldwide.
“We need to take concrete steps towards a modern and resilient agriculture. For food is not just a trade commodity nor a livelihood. It is an existential imperative and a moral one. It is the very basis of human security,” said Marcos.
On climate change, Marcos said: “The Philippines, for example, is a net carbon sink. We absorb carbon dioxide than we emit. And yet, we are the fourth most vulnerable country to climate change,” said Marcos.
Marcos called on industrialized countries to immediately fulfill their obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement to cut their greenhouse gas emissions, provide climate financing and technology transfer for adaptation for the most vulnerable, and developing countries to lead by example.
Marcos said that “differences should only be resolved by peaceful means” and how governments should resolve disputes through “reason and through right.”
Marcos cited the Manila Declaration of 1982 and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which “provide useful guidance for our time.”
“For amidst challenging global tides, an important ballast stabilizes our common vessel that is our open, inclusive, and rules-based international order that is governed by international law and informed by the principles of equity and of justice,” said Marcos.