In a video pre-recorded for the event, Francisco Guterres also highlighted the need for global solidarity to defeat the crisis.
“I am deeply convinced that together in a genuine spirt of solidarity, humankind will overcome this challenge,” he said.
President Guterres reported on steps his administration has taken in the battle against COVID-19, including closing borders, establishing quarantine and isolation units, and dispatching teams to educate communities about the disease.
The authorities worked in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and received support from international partners.
Addressing structural weaknesses
Timor-Leste recorded its first case of COVID-19 on 21 March. Overall, there have been 27 cases, 26 of which have recovered. No patient ever needed intensive care.
The pandemic also provided an opportunity to correct and address structural weaknesses in the country, Mr. Guterres told world leaders, pointing to an Economic Recovery Plan aimed at stemming the loss of jobs and incomes.
“Despite the cruelty, the pandemic has given us the opportunity to be increasingly aware of the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda,” he said, emphasizing the need to give greater attention to the world’s most vulnerable countries.
“Global cooperation and partnerships, both at the regional and national levels, are crucial to build a resilient, sustainable and inclusive world.”
Protecting all life on Earth
Mr. Guterres also highlighted the link between COVID-19 and climate change, the destruction of ecosystems and biodiversity loss.
“Thus, Timor-Leste believes that the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Sustainable Development Goals embody essential means and issues on the road to the reconstruction of countries,” he continued.
“The development of family farming, the rational and planned use of natural resources, the fight against pollution and intelligent policies to protect the environment, with the engagement of citizens are crucial issues that must be respected so that life can be possible on our planet.”
UN in the COVID-19 era
As is the case with organizations worldwide, the UN has adapted its working methods to comply with COVID-19 physical distancing measures.
World leaders have pre-recorded their speeches for the annual general debate in the iconic General Assembly Hall at UN Headquarters in New York.
Despite not being able to gather this year, participation by Heads of State and Government is at a record high, the UN reports.