In a videoconference address to the Global Crisis Response Group (GCRG) on Food, Energy, and Finance, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina urged the international community to take decisive steps towards finding an amicable resolution to the on-going Ukraine war. PM emphasised the urgency of putting an end to the conflict, which, coupled with the imposition of sanctions and counter-sanctions, has been contributing to the destabilisation of the world.
Furthermore, Prime Minister Hasina highlighted the sharp rise in poverty and inequalities, which is exacerbating the debt burden for poorer countries. These factors, along with other shocks, have led to increased prices of essential commodities such as food and energy, leading to delays in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Given the current growing instability, the Prime Minister emphasised the crucial role of international cooperation in supporting vulnerable communities and building resilience against future shocks.
Additionally, the Prime Minister called for the addressing of factors that affect food prices and access, such as export restrictions, stockpiling, and supply chain distortions. Taking concrete measures in these areas will be vital to ensuring food security and stabilising global commodity markets.
From food security to financial reforms
Amidst this growing instability, Prime Minister Hasina emphasised the critical importance of international cooperation to support vulnerable communities worldwide and enhance resilience against future shocks.
In the current global context, she presented specific thoughts for consideration. One urgent need is for a reformed international financial architecture that allows Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and developing nations to access concessional, low-cost, and low-interest-rate funds without burdensome conditions.
Additionally, developing countries should have easy access to funds during crises and disasters, including equitable access to the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Special Drawing Rights (SDR) funds in emergency situations. Furthermore, funds from International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) should be available at lower rates, and these repayments could be suspended until the crises have been overcome.
The Prime Minister also stressed the importance of addressing factors that affect food prices and access, such as export restrictions, stockpiling, and supply chain distortions. She wholeheartedly endorsed the Secretary General’s appeal to maintain open markets, eliminate export restrictions, and release food reserves to enhance food supply. Additionally, she commended the Secretary General’s Black Sea Initiative, urging for its extension to further ensure food security and save lives.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina emphasised the prudent management of energy and reiterated her government’s support for energy transition by providing policy support and encouraging investments in the energy sector, particularly in green energy initiatives. She acknowledged the interconnectedness of food and energy security with climate change, expressing concern that the burning of fossil fuels contributes to climate change, leading to more frequent and intense natural disasters. This, in turn, adversely affects agriculture, food production, and causes human displacement, highlighting the urgency of transitioning to sustainable energy sources, food production, and climate action.
Climate funds and carbon levy concerns
Prime Minister Hasina expressed her belief in the effectiveness of the Global Crisis Response Group’s (GCRG) recommendations from its three Policy Briefs and the report “A World of Debt,” which she believes will aid decision-making and foster global consensus on necessary actions. She called on all to support the “Key Asks” of interest to champion these crucial causes.
She further outlined Bangladesh’s efforts in making tough fiscal and policy choices during challenging times, with a focus on curbing inflation, promoting food production, and ensuring that no citizen suffers from food shortages. The Prime Minister stressed the significance of 2023 as a year for stocktaking the implementation of the Paris Agreement. In this context, she expressed the desire for concrete progress on the “Loss and Damage Fund” and streamlined access to climate funds. She also voiced concerns about developing countries being adversely affected by the proposed carbon levy in the shipping sector and urged the launch of projects under the Global Shield against Climate Risks.
The Global Crisis Response Group (GCRG) was established in March 2022 by the United Nations Secretary-General to address urgent global issues related to food security, energy, and finance crises, while also coordinating a collective global response. The Champions Group, consisting of Heads of State or Government from Bangladesh, Barbados, Denmark, Germany, Indonesia, and Senegal, oversees the GCRG’s operations.