UN chief stresses joint efforts to tackle climate change

Human rights should be honoured everywhere in the world including Kashmir ◙ Water must be an instrument of peace, not conflict

By: News Desk      Published: 04:15 PM, 16 Feb, 2020
UN chief stresses joint efforts to tackle climate change

 UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres on Sunday addressed a conference on Sustainable Development and Climate Change in Islamabad.

In his address, the UN chief said that it was an honour for him to talk on this critical issue.

He said that it is essential for human progress to set targets for long-term development.

“It is our collective responsibility to tackle this global issue.”

The UN Secretary-General said that Pakistan is one of those countries who have been severely affected by climate change.

Expressing solidarity to the people affected by climate change in the country, he said that no country is immune from the devastation caused by climate change.

He also attended a questions-and-answers session wherein in reply to a question on issues between Pakistan and India regarding water sharing, he said:

“Water must be an instrument of peace and not an instrument of conflict”.

Giving the example of his own country, he said Portugal has an agreement on sharing water with neighbouring Spain and this is the way countries should solve the issues through talks.

He said that one country’s putting another country at a disadvantage does not fare well for anyone in the end.

To a question on Kashmir, the secretary-general said, he has always been strongly advocating the need for dialogue between India and Pakistan and "even I offered my good offices more than once”. But, this could be useful only if the offer for talks facilitation is accepted by both the parties, he added.

"We have been expressing [it] very clearly the absolute need for fully respecting the human rights in Kashmir."

He said that the Human Rights Commissioner has a very important role in verifying the situation there.

"Our strong commitment is clear human rights must be respected everywhere in the world and also in Kashmir." 

Earlier, during his speech to the conference, the UN chief expressed his concern on the investment in the petroleum sector, calling it a threat to the world environment.

“Green economy is good for the globe.”

He emphasised on the need for water conservation. He said that wasting of water resources renders the lands infertile and arid.

He praised Pakistan’s hospitality to Afghan refugees and praised the country for hosting millions of them for decades.

"I have a love affair with Pakistan!"

This love affair, he said, started when he was in Pakistan as UN human rights commissioner. 

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The UN Secretary-General said that Pakistan should also focus on poverty reduction and other human development issues.

“Although Pakistan is setting targets for long-term development, it will have to increase its pace of progress.”

Praising the incumbent government’s initiative “Kamyab Nojawan Program”, he expressed the hope that this megaproject would employ 10 million youth.

He said that Pakistan faces challenges in many areas including health. However, he appreciated the government’s all-embracing health plan that intends health benefits for everyone.

The UN chief said that education, economic opportunities, and gender equality are important for development.

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