“The new coronavirus disease is attacking societies at their core, claiming lives and people’s livelihoods”, said Secretary-General António Guterres, pointing out that the potential longer-term effects on the global economy and individual countries are “dire”. The new report, “Shared responsibility, global solidarity: Responding to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19”, describes the speed and scale of the outbreak, the severity of cases, and the societal and economic disruption of the coronavirus.
“COVID-19 is the greatest test that we have faced together since the formation of the United Nations,” underscored the UN chief.
“This human crisis demands coordinated, decisive, inclusive and innovative policy action from the world’s leading economies – and maximum financial and technical support for the poorest and most vulnerable people and countries.”
As strong as weakest health system
Mr. Guterres called for “an immediate coordinated health response to suppress transmission and end the pandemic” that “scales up health capacity for testing, tracing, quarantine and treatment, while keeping first responders safe, combined with measures to restrict movement and contact.”
He underscored that developed countries must assist those less developed, or potentially “face the nightmare of the disease spreading like wildfire in the global South with millions of deaths and the prospect of the disease re-emerging where it was previously suppressed”.
“Let us remember that we are only as strong as the weakest health system in our interconnected world”, he stressed.
Focus on most vulnerable
In tackling the devastating social and economic dimensions of the crisis, the UN chief pushed for a focus on the most vulnerable by designing policies that, among other things, support providing health and unemployment insurance and social protections while also bolstering businesses to prevent bankruptcies and job losses.
Debt alleviation must also be a priority he said, noting that the UN is “fully mobilized” and is establishing a new multi-partner Trust Fund for COVID19 Response and Recovery to respond to the emergency and recover from the socio-economic shock.
“When we get past this crisis, which we will, we will face a choice”, said the UN chief, “we can go back to the world as it was before or deal decisively with those issues that make us all unnecessarily vulnerable to crises”.
Referencing the 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), he maintained that in recover from the COVID-19 crisis must lead to an economy focused on building inclusive and sustainable economies that are more resilient in facing pandemics, climate change, and the many other global challenges.
Photo: UN Photo/Mark Garten