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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Munir Akram Thursday said developing Islamic countries needed higher level of broadband connectivity, digitalization and more financial resources for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and further investment in social, health and education sectors.

Munir Akram, President of United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), was speaking during a special virtual session arranged by the Islamic Cooperation Youth Forum. The topic of his speech was the “Future of Multilateral Cooperation in the Post-Covid Era and the Role of Youth”.

He said the Islamic world had been marginalised in the international politics and economy for the past few centuries. “We need to come back in the international mainstream,” he said, adding the level of connectivity between the Islamic countries, and the global economy and supply chains was low. The broadband should be made available in the developing countries for which energy and investment was needed, he noted.

The envoy stressed that the contribution of youth organisations was important as future belonged to the youth, who should have a role in shaping the world.

“In the present age our responses need to be innovative. We need to break the mold and should use the technological applications,” he said, adding the youth had new innovative ideas to respond to the challenges at a time “when we are on the cusp of the fourth industrial age”.

“We are in the age of mass communication and mass production of products, and if the Islamic world wants to be able to participate and compete in the world we have to apply new approaches towards methods of production and be responsive to changes in the world. As we enter the new industrial age, we are facing new challenges like the consequences of coronavirus pandemic.”

He pointed out that some Islamic countries had strong health systems and financial resources to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, but many others lacked the institutional and financial resources due to stress of high debt.

The envoy said 400 million jobs were lost in the countries of Africa and South Asia due to the coronavirus pandemic. Most of the jobs were lost by daily wage earners and small businesses in the informal sector, including agriculture and construction. Those, who lost jobs, needed direct cash transfers and in the longer term should be equipped with skills for jobs in the manufacturing and information technology sectors.

He viewed that the Islamic Ummah needed to work very diligently to acquire international financial resources and help reduce the stress of highly indebted countries.

Many of the least developed and middle income countries required the liquidity to recover from the crises, and invest in sustainable infrastructure and the social sector, including health and education, he continued.

He said the rich countries had mobilized and injected $14 trillion in their economies recovering from the coronavirus. The developing countries needed $4.2 trillion for the recovery of their economies and achievement of sustainable development goals. The developing countries needed liquidity and special drawing rights from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), he informed.

He lauded the proposal of the United States for creation of liquidity for the developing countries through new special drawing rights.

“We need to bring the private sector in the debt restructuring and suspension programme. We need to convince the private sector to give debt relief to the developing countries. The rich countries should provide concessional finance to the countries high in debt.”

Talking about climate change, he said the developed world needed to fulfill its promises and finance the new green deal.

Munir Akram said billions of dollars from the developing countries through illegal means flew to the tax havens and major corporations in the developed world, and the major corporations, which did not pay taxes, made billions in profits.

He called for a push for the implementation of recommendations by the international community to achieve financial integrity and transparency, and to stop bleeding of financial resources from the developing world.

He said the Youth Forum would meet on April 8-9 at the United Nations to discuss the issues facing the world, while the Science and Technology Forum would also meet to offer new innovative solutions.

Responding to a question from the participants of the webinar, he said, “We should create a database for all the open-source technologies, which could be applied to resolve problems of the developing countries. We also need to see across all the SDGs to identify the breakthrough for implementation of SDGs.”

Research was needed for the diseases in the developing world and then the same should be brought to the attention of rich countries for deployment of resources, he concluded.


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