PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has told the United Nations General Assembly that Zambia supports the call for major interventions, such as debt relief and/or cancellation, for developing member-states as a recovery path post-COVID-19.

And President Lungu says despite several challenges, the world should not surrender to any cynicism on the accelerated implementation of the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development.

Speaking when he addressed the UN General Assembly Heads of State Virtual Summit from State House in Lusaka, Thursday evening, President Lungu said that the post-COVID-19 landscape will further call for enhanced collaboration in research for the vaccination and cure of COVID-19.

“The post-Coronavirus landscape will require urgent action to guarantee recovery and to lay a solid foundation for a better world. Accordingly, Zambia supports the call for major interventions, such as, one; debt relief and/or cancellation for developing member-states; two, enhance collaboration in research for the vaccination/cure of COVID-19 and three, mobilisation of resources from the local and international community,” President Lungu said.

“The theme presents us an opportunity to have existing multilateral corporations to address the challenges affecting our people. The COVID-19 pandemic has not only decimated economies and exacerbated poverty, but has also shown us how interconnected and interdependent our world is and how we must work together to respond effectively to the challenges that confront us today. Under these circumstances, an opportunity has manifested itself on the need to maximise our comparative advantages as well as share expertise, technologies, innovations and indigenous knowledge to be utilised for the betterment of our people’s livelihoods. I remain confident that with the concerted efforts and unity of purpose together we can conquer this pandemic on a global scale.”

President Lungu observed the risk of mass unemployment of young people owing to the global economic crisis remained high amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Mr President, prior to the onset of COVID-19, young people were already three times more likely to be unemployed compared to their adult counterparts. As the pandemic pushes the global economy into a deeper crisis, the young generation is once again at risk to disproportionately bear the brunt of mass unemployment and under-protection. In this regard, I wish to share that the Zambian government launched a multi-sectoral youth empowerment programme to support the young entrepreneurs. The multi-sectoral approach has helped ensure that programmes and activities to empower and create employment opportunities for the youth are mainstreamed across all sectors. Mr President, in 2015, we, the members of the UN, pledged to leave no one behind and shift the world on to a path of sustainable development and prosperity for all. This commitment is, indeed, still alive to most of us,” President Lungu said.

And he called for continuity in the implementation of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development

“Although the road before us is laden with challenges, we should neither waver nor surrender to any cynicism on the accelerated implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The government of the Republic of Zambia, working closely with the UN and other key stakeholders, such as the private sector and civil societies, developed the national SDGs coordination framework to guide the implementation, monitoring and reporting of SDGs and integrated it into the country’s national development plan,” he said.

Meanwhile, President Lungu urged the UN to remain resolute in its duty to protect those affected by conflict.

“Mr President, Zambia remains supportive to international efforts and the peaceful resolution of conflicts through advocacy and support shown for peace-keeping missions. Zambia remains an active player in peace-keeping and leave building operations in the region. In this regard, we would like to urge the United Nations to remain resolute in its duty of protecting these vulnerable persons and to redouble its efforts to bring about a more peaceful world. This is the bedrock of the UN foundation as espoused by its charter,” said President Lungu.

“Mr President, as we mark the 75th anniversary of this great institution, we cannot but conclude that the United Nations’ importance and continued relevance to mankind is beyond question. It is in this context that we need to revitalise it so that it can fulfil the ideals for which it was established. I thank you.”

This year’s meeting is being held under the theme: “The future we want, the United Nations we need: reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism – confronting COVID-19 through effective multilateral action.”