General Assembly delegates today extended the Organization’s support and sympathy to the Government and people of Pakistan with the unanimous adoption of a resolution that emphasizes the need to help the South-East Asian nation rebuild from devastating rains that left a third of the country under water.
By the terms of the text “Solidarity with and support for the Government and people of Pakistan and strengthening of emergency relief, rehabilitation, reconstruction and prevention in the wake of the recent devastating floods” (document (A/77/L.3), the Assembly expressed its full solidarity with the people affected by the floods, and support for the Government. It welcomed the Government’s effective cooperation with relevant United Nations system agencies, donor countries, regional and international financial institutions, relevant international organizations and civil society, as well as national and local relief organizations, in coordinating and delivering emergency relief.
Stressing the need to continue that cooperation in a way that enhances resilience and reduces vulnerability to future natural hazards, the Assembly urged Member States to continue to engage in adaptation planning processes and to enhance cooperation in disaster risk reduction. Further, it called upon the international community to scale up humanitarian assistance and rehabilitation, to help Pakistan repair and strengthen the country’s prospects for achieving sustainable development.
The Assembly also emphasized the need for the international community to maintain its focus beyond the present emergency relief, in order to sustain the political will to support the Government’s medium- and long-term rehabilitation, reconstruction and risk reduction efforts, as well as the adaptation plan. The Assembly welcomed the proposed convening of a pledging conference in that regard, to be held at the earliest opportunity.
Lastly, the Assembly asked the Secretary-General to ensure regular follow-up under the Sustainable Development Goals and provide an update on implementation of the resolution during the second quarter of 2023, plus a full report, within existing resources, at its seventy-eighth session.
Addressing the Assembly before its vote, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said the people of Pakistan are the victims “of a grim calculus of climate injustice”. The country is responsible for less than 1 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, yet it is paying a supersized price for human-caused climate change. During a trip to the country a month ago, Mr. Guterres said he saw a level of climate carnage beyond imagination: flood waters covering a landmass three times the total area of Portugal. “Many have lost everything — their homes, their livestock, their crops, their futures,” he said. “Lives were washed away.” Though water is beginning to recede, many areas in the south of Pakistan remain inundated and the country is on the verge of a public health disaster.
Massive needs require massive support, and the United Nations is working with the Pakistan Government to convene a pledging conference to bring together donors at the highest level, in order to provide concrete support for rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts, he said. In the meantime, the United Nations has launched the Pakistan Floods Response Plan, which now calls for $816 million — a surge of $656 million from the initial appeal — to respond to the most urgent needs through next May.
Yet the central question remains the climate crisis, he said. Referring to the twenty-seventh session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27), he said: “The calendar is fast moving forward to COP27 — but the world is moving backwards.” Greenhouse gas emissions are rising along with climate calamities. “COP27 must be the place where these trends are reversed,” he said, calling for serious action on loss and damage, and clarity on the funding for adaptation and resilience. Wealthier countries bear a moral responsibility to help places such as Pakistan recover, adapt and build resilience to disasters supercharged by the climate crisis. “Let us not forget that 80 per cent of the emissions driving this type of climate destruction are from the G20,” he said.
Assembly President Csaba Kőrösi (Hungary) described today’s vote as a litmus test of solidarity on the heels of an immense disaster. About 33 million lives in Pakistan are affected, with 6.4 million people urgently needing humanitarian assistance and at least 3.4 million children requiring life-saving help, he said. “These are not numbers. They are lives,” he emphasized, while also detailing the enormous damage to livestock and crops.
In recalling the Assembly’s commitment to leaving no one behind, he asked, “Can we gather in solidarity with the people of Pakistan in their time of need?” The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has provided a response plan and Pakistan has come to the Assembly in a show of great confidence in the Organization. “Time is of the essence. The price we are paying for delays rises each day,” he urged. As international relief efforts must also focus on transformative solutions, adaptation and resilience are the seeds of sustainability. When the droughts and rains return, the world should be better prepared by using science and solidarity to enhance its crisis management capacities, he emphasized.
Pakistan’s representative, who introduced the draft resolution, said his country is one of the most climate-vulnerable nations, and the extreme weather events of the last two decades have taken a severe toll. In the first half of this year, the country faced heat waves, droughts and many severe weather situations. Then, this summer, it rained for 40 days and 40 nights — dropping five times the amount of rain that had fallen in recorded history. There were massive flash floods and one‑third of the country was under water, an area the size of the United Kingdom. The toll has been tremendous: more than 1,700 people lost their lives and 13,000 were injured; the floods caused damage of $32 billion, 10 per cent of the country’s gross national product. The World Bank estimates the national poverty rate will increase from 4.5 per cent to 7 per cent and could push 9.9 million to 15 million people into poverty.
Since the first flash appeal, the impact of the floods has expanded, he continued. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs earlier this week issued a revised flash appeal for $811 million for the next nine months. That funding would meet a wide range of needs, such as education, food, security, agriculture, health, shelter and water, and sanitation and logistics. An immediate threat is water-borne disease, and many health clinics were destroyed, he explained. Climate change has happened and is happening, a change to which Pakistan has contributed almost nothing, he stressed, expressing hope that COP27 will find solutions through solidarity.
Speaking after the vote, delegates expressed their support and empathy for Pakistan, and urged the international community to accelerate and expand their assistance.
The representative of the Bahamas, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said the response to the disruption demonstrates the systemic flaws in the global financial architecture, and infrastructure gaps in response to vulnerable States in crisis. The reference to “timely, adequate, effective, coherent and coordinated” humanitarian relief applies with equal force to financial action and policy for a sustainable global commons, he noted, while commending the resolution for adding to the advocacy for transforming global governance architecture to be responsive to the realities of all peoples and the planet.
The speaker for the United States supported the resolution’s longer-term focus on building resilience through climate mitigation and adaptation, as well as disaster risk reduction efforts. Incorporating disaster risk reduction into humanitarian and development assistance strengthens the ability of people and Governments to cope during crises, protects economic and development gains and secures progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, she said. As the Assembly searches for solutions every day, it should keep in mind that climate change has no borders, and must address its devastating impacts, she emphasized.
The representative of Thailand commended all those Governments and groups that provided humanitarian assistance and noted that his country has contributed financial assistance. Pakistan is facing many more challenges, from public health issues to the rebuilding of infrastructure. He urged the international community and relevant stakeholders to support Pakistan through the pledging conference. Much more needs to be done and COP27 is an opportunity to do so.
Sri Lanka’s representative said the situation highlights the increasing adverse impact of climate change and the need for humanitarian relief and development. He called on the United Nations system to continue its aid, adding that the international financial system does not provide assistance quickly enough after disasters. Instead, countries facing such calamities have to borrow and increase their debt. The financial system exploits these situations to its own benefit, he said, pointing out that climate finance is important to support mitigation efforts.
The representative of the United Kingdom urged the United Nations and World Bank to work with Pakistan and the international community in a coordinated, collaborative and open manner, to ensure response and reconstructive efforts are both effective and impartial. Longer-term response efforts to improving climate resilience must also have the support of international financial institutions, he said. As the world must work hard on building greater climate resilience and transitioning to clean energy sources as quickly as possible, it must also commit to and deliver on ambitious nationally determined contributions, he emphasized.
The speaker for Türkiye pledged to continue to provide humanitarian assistance in the most needed areas. As no nation can single-handedly deal with nature’s monumental challenges, the United Nations has a critical role in ensuring necessary coordination, delivering emergency humanitarian aid and helping each Member State better prepare for similar events in the future by strengthening resilience, he emphasized.
The representative of the United Arab Emirates, in stressing the importance of providing humanitarian assistance to Pakistan based on humanity, impartiality and brotherhood, spotlighted her country’s ongoing support. The consequences of climate change require the international community to mobilize every possible international effort to address them in a well-considered and effective manner, she said. For its part, the United Arab Emirates is committed to building partnerships and investments, and ready to host the twenty-eighth Conference of the Parties in 2023, she said.
The speaker for the Russian Federation, expressing concern over the potentially far-reaching consequences of the floods, welcomed the plans to hold a pledging conference. As unilateral sanctions have limited his country’s ability to contribute to United Nations humanitarian organizations, the Russian Federation would continue to provide humanitarian assistance on a bilateral basis, he said.
The representative of China expressed hope that the resolution would help the international community pay attention to Pakistan’s humanitarian post-disaster recovery and reconstruction needs, and provide effective, immediate and full support. She then spotlighted China’s ongoing assistance to Pakistan.
The representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, urged the Assembly not to overlook the disaster’s longer-term consequences. As extreme weather events create new humanitarian crises around the globe, the international community must invest in building resilience and do more to prepare, including by scaling up participatory humanitarian action and strengthening international cooperation to deliver on the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change, he said. He then called on Pakistan and the international community to work together to address the different protection needs of populations, particularly the most vulnerable.
A representative of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said the Federation recently revised its appeal to scale up its support for the Pakistan Red Crescent Society in order to help 1 million people to recover. Its revised response was prompted by the worsening situation, where a surge of flood-borne diseases and food inaccessibility are on the rise. She welcomed the resolution’s recognition of the need to “enhance adaptive capacity, strengthen resilience and reduce vulnerability to climate change”. A new study from World Weather Attribution, a group of international scientists including those from the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, found climate change likely intensified the rainfall that caused these floods, she noted.
In other business today, the Assembly, acting without a vote, adopted a draft resolution titled “Scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations: requests under Article 19 of the Charter”, contained in a report (document A/77/484) of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary). Through the text, the Assembly agreed that the failure of Comoros, Sao Tome and Principe, and Somalia to pay the full minimum amount of their assessments, necessary to avoid the application of Article 19 of the Charter, was due to conditions beyond their control. It decided that those three Member States shall be permitted to vote in the Assembly until the end of its seventy‑seventh session.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Egypt, Azerbaijan, Algeria, Indonesia, Ecuador, Malaysia and Iran.
The Assembly will meet again on Monday, 10 October to hold a joint debate on the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa (2016–2025) and “Literacy for life: shaping future agendas, and education for democracy”.