Stating that the path to achieve sustainable peace and prosperity is through multilateralism, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said called for a ‘reformed multilateralism’ in a post-COVID-19 world, which reflects the realities of the contemporary world.
Modi said this while delivering a keynote address virtually at this year’s High-Level Segment of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) session on Friday, July 17, at the United Nations in New York.
“As children of planet Earth, we must join hands to address our common challenges and achieve our common goals. However, multilateralism needs to represent the reality of the contemporary world. Only reformed multilateralism with a reformed United Nations at its center can meet the aspirations of humanity. Today, while celebrating 75 years of the United Nations, let us pledge to reform the global multilateral system. The United Nations was originally born from the furies of the Second World War. Today, the fury of the pandemic provides the context for its rebirth and reform. Let us not lose this chance,” he said.
The theme of the High-Level Segment of the ECOSOC this year is “Multilateralism after COVID19: What kind of UN do we need at the 75th anniversary”.
In his address, Modi recalled India’s long association with the ECOSOC and the UN’s developmental work, including for the Sustainable Development Goals. He noted that India’s developmental motto of ‘’Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikaas, Sabka Vishwas’ – meaning ‘Together, for everyone’s growth, with everyone’s trust’ resonates with the core SDG principle of leaving no one behind. “Be it access to nutrition , health education, electricity or housing – we are making great progress through our inclusive programmes,” he said.
The Prime Minister also pointed out that India’s success in improving the socio-economic indicators of its vast population has a significant impact on global SDG targets. He spoke about India’s commitment to also support other developing countries in meeting their SDG targets.
He also mentioned about India’s ongoing development efforts, including for improving access to sanitation through the “Swacch Bharat Abhiyan”, empowering women, ensuring financial inclusion, and expanding availability of housing and healthcare through flagship schemes such as the “Housing for All” programme and the “Ayushman Bharat” scheme.
The Prime Minister also highlighted India’s focus on environmental sustainability and bio-diversity conservation, and recalled India’s leading role in the establishment of the International Solar Alliance and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure. Speaking about India’s role in its region as a first responder, Prime Minister recalled the support provided by the Indian government and Indian pharma companies for ensuring medicine supplies to different countries, and for coordinating a joint response strategy among SAARC countries.
Stating that India has actively supported the UN’s development work and ECOSOC, Modi said the country also contributed to shaping the ECOSOC agenda, including the Sustainable Development Goals. “Today, through our domestic efforts, we are again playing a salient role in achieving Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals. We are also supporting other developing countries in meeting their Sustainable Development Goals,” the Prime Minister said.
He also mentioned that India never forgot the responsibility towards the planet even when marching ahead. “Over the past few years, we have reduced 38 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually. This was achieved by electrifying our villages, providing clean cooking fuel to 80 million poor households, and introduction of energy efficient measures. We have set a target to install 450 Gigawatt of renewable energy and restore 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030. We have an age-old tradition of living in harmony with nature,” he said.
He also told the meeting about the launching the largest campaigns for cleanliness and discouragement of single-use plastic. He stated that the initiative to set up the International Solar Alliance was a practical manifestation of climate action. Similarly, the Coalition for Disaster Resilience Infrastructure brings together all relevant stake-holders for a comprehensive approach. “We have always prided ourselves as the first responder in our region – a friend in need. Be it earthquakes, cyclones or any other natural or man-made crisis, India has responded with speed and solidarity. In our joint fight against COVID, we have extended medical and other assistance to over 150 countries. We also helped create a SAARC COVID emergency fund in our neighbourhood,” the Prime Minister said.
With respect to COVID-19 pandemic, Modi said that the pandemic has severely tested the resilience of all nations. “In India, We have given the highest priority to deliver benefits to poor households. We have announced a package of more than 300 billion dollars. It will bring the economy back on track, build modern infrastructure and put in place a technology-driven system. We have put forward a vision of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ a self-reliant and Resilient India, integrated with the global economy,” Modi said.
This was the second time that Prime Minister Modi was addressing the ECOSOC. He had earlier delivered the keynote address at the 70thanniversary of the ECOSOC in January 2016.