UN chief calls for action in 4 areas to build back better from Covid-19

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for immediate action in four areas so that the world can build back better from Covid-19 and further advance sustainable development.

The first area is recovery from the pandemic in every country, he was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency.

“We must ensure equitable global access to Covid-19 vaccines, therapies and tests. And now it is very important to have a serious effort to increase the number of countries that can produce vaccines, diagnostics, and other else technologies thinking about the future,” he told the opening of the ministerial segment of the High-level Political Forum on sustainable development, convened under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council.

Governments must work together with the pharmaceutical industry and other stakeholders to share licenses and to provide technical and financial support to allow many other countries to produce vaccines and other important medical products. There is also a need to make sure future outbreaks of disease are better managed by strengthening health systems and ensuring universal health coverage, he said.

The second area is to tackle the food, energy and finance crisis, said Guterres.

Ukraine’s food production and the food and fertilizer produced by Russia must be brought back to world markets despite the ongoing conflict. But there can be no solution to today’s crises without a solution to the crisis of economic inequality in the developing world, he said.

“We need to make resources and fiscal space available to countries and communities, including middle-income countries that have an even more limited financial toolbox than three years ago. This requires global financial institutions to use all the instruments at their disposal, with flexibility and understanding,” he said.

The global financial system is failing the developing world. The world needs a system that works for the vulnerable, not just the powerful, he said.

The third area is to invest in people, he said.

The pandemic has shown the devastating impacts of inequality within and between countries. Time and again, it is the most vulnerable and marginalized who suffer most when crises hit. It is time to prioritise investment in people; to build a new social contract based on universal social protection; and to overhaul social support systems established in the aftermath of World War II, he said.

The fourth area is climate action, said Guterres.

The battle to keep the 1.5-degree goal alive will be won or lost this decade. While achieving this goal requires a reduction in global emissions of 45 per cent below 2010 levels by 2030, current pledges would result in a 14 per cent increase in emissions by that date, he noted.

Ending the global addiction to fossil fuels through a renewable energy revolution is priority number one. Developed countries must make good on their $100 billion climate finance commitment to developing countries. Developing economies must have access to the resources and technology they need. Everyone in climate-related high-risk areas should be covered by early-warning systems within the next five years, he said.

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