The President of the Republic of Palau, Surangel S. Whipps Jr., recently addressed the 76th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.
Whipps talked about a variety of topics and focused on issues such as climate change. He also said that the UN session convened at a unique time with the ongoing COVID-19 situation.
“Our 76th session convenes at a unique time in the United Nations’ history. Member states are still confronted with the monumental task of solving the COVID-19 pandemic. On behalf of the people of Palau, we applaud and salute the first responders, doctors, nurses, public health professionals, and all those that work and continue and diligently respond to this pandemic,” Whipps said.
The Palau president thanked the global community for their efforts in combating the pandemic. However, he pleaded for global leaders to put a similar focus on combating climate change, pointing out how the islands of Palau, which are outside the typhoon belt, were nonetheless hit by Typhoon Surigae earlier this year.
“I ask the global community to take the same level of energy and bold action into responding to the existential threat of climate change. In April of this year, Palau, which historically has been outside the typhoon belt, was hit by typhoon Surigae, our 12th typhoon since 2012. This damaged 20% of our homes, destroyed major infrastructure, including our aquaculture facilities, and also destroyed millions of dollars in crops, consequently undermining Palau’s food security,” the Palau president said.
Whipps stressed the importance of tackling the world’s climate change issue in the U.N., emphasizing that as part of the Small Island Developing States, Palau, like other SIDS, feels the effects of climate change the most.
“The United Nations has the opportunity to reconcile global issues and through its collective membership take actions necessary to develop, implement, and innovate crucial solutions. This is our mandate and we must not fail,” he said.