Mr. Prime Minister, I would like to thank you very much, and to thank the people of Cabo Verde for your warm welcome and wonderful hospitality you have received me.
On each of my visits to Cabo Verde, I have always been swept away by its natural beauty, cultural richness, and that unique feeling of 'Morabeza', if I am correct in my citation.
The world has benefitted from that richness – from Kriol to the Morna of Cesária Évora – which your vibrant diaspora has carried far and wide.
I fondly recall my visit as Prime Minister of Portugal and our work together to establish the agreement you mentioned, the Acordo de Cooperação Cambial that was signed 25 years ago.
I believe that this agreement represented more than a link between two currencies, it represented a stronger connection between the Cabo Verdean economy, Europe and the world. And I know that Cabo Verde was able to make the most of the potential of this connection and the opportunities that were created.
I will also never forget my visit to the former Tarrafal concentration camp – the site of such horror for so many freedom fighters.
I went there with former prisoners, Edmundo Pedro and Sérgio Vilarigues. Their stories of torture and savagery haunt me to this day.
This dark chapter must be acknowledged and preserved.
I thank the people of Cabo Verde for working to keep this history alive.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I cannot hide the enormous emotion I felt, I am not much of a person that cares about honours, but I was very moved when I received from the hands of the then Prime Minister [Carlos] Veiga, the Order of Amílcar Cabral. I know that Cabo Verde is preparing to celebrate the centenary of Amílcar Cabral, and I want once again to pay homage, as a Portuguese, to the decisive contribution of Cabo Verdeans to decolonisation and to democracy itself in my country.
And that is why it's a special honour to be back in Cabo Verde as Secretary-General of the United Nations.
I am here, as everyone knows, for the Mindelo Ocean Summit – but I am also here, especially, to thank you for your country's longstanding partnership with the United Nations.
And to salute your efforts to ensure good governance and strong and effective democratic institutions -- an example not only for Africa but the whole world.
And this example shows how important people-centred economic policies are and how they are a decisive lever for development.
Over the past 40 years, Cabo Verde has consistently championed justice, human rights, and sustainability.
Cabo Verde is on the road to eradicating extreme poverty by 2026 – promoting the values of tolerance, diversity, gender parity, and multiculturalism.
And all of this despite severe headwinds and structural limitations – from geographic remoteness and import dependence to vulnerability to external shocks like the ones the Prime Minister mentioned, being COVID, climate and the Ukraine war.
I know that for Cabo Verde – just like other Small Island Developing States – which are a priority in the partnership and action of the United Nations, I know that Cabo Verde faces major challenges, such as the consequences of the pandemic and, above all, the increase in the cost of living, which always has a devastating impact on the population.
Cabo Verde – alongside other vulnerable middle-income countries – needs urgent access to concessional financing, as well as effective debt relief and restructuring.
And, of course, Cabo Verde is, as is known, on the frontlines of the existential climate crisis.
Over the past five years, I know that Cabo Verde has faced a severe drought.
Sea level rise and biodiversity and ecosystem loss pose existential threats to this archipelago, like to many other archipelagos.
I am deeply frustrated that global leaders are not giving this life-or-death emergency the action and investment it requires.
We are in the fight of our lives. And unfortunately, we are losing.
Emissions keep growing. Temperatures keep rising.
We are on the verge of racing past the 1.5 degree limit and headed straight for 2.8 degrees of global warming by the end of the century. It would be a catastrophe.
The consequences will be devastating. Several parts of our planet will be uninhabitable, particularly in Africa. And for many, this is a death sentence.
We need greater solidarity, urgency, and ambition.
And we need justice for those who – like Cabo Verde – did little to cause the crisis, but are paying a high price because of it.
Cabo Verde has demonstrated climate leadership in both words and deeds.
I want to highlight Cabo Verde's marine conservation and protection goals as set out in your national sustainable development strategy, 'Ambition 2030', as well as your efforts in negotiating debt for nature swaps to invest in the blue economy.
We look forward to working with the government and people of Cabo Verde to translate this ambition into reality – including through our newly agreed UN Cooperation Framework, which also identifies the blue economy as a key opportunity for advancing sustainable development across the archipelago.
I am more determined than ever to make 2023 a turning point for people and planet.
To promote peace and security.
To advance the Sustainable Development Goals and address inequalities.
And to turn the tide in the climate crisis.
In all of this and more, I am profoundly grateful to have partners like Cabo Verde helping to lead the way to a more just and sustainable world.