Antonio Guterres six measures for financial recovery from COVID-19

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for measures to finance development to recover from COVID-19 and keep on track towards Sustainable Development Goals.
Antonio Guterres six measures for financial recovery from COVID-19
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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for six measures to help countries recover from COVID-19 and keep them on track toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Financing for development in the context of COVID-19 means an unprecedented effort to mobilize resources and political will. Yet since the pandemic began one year ago, no element of multilateral response has gone as it should, he told the opening of the 2021 Economic and Social Council Forum on Financing for Development.

More than 3 million people have lost their lives. Some 120 million people have fallen back into extreme poverty, while approximately 255 million full-time jobs are lost. The world has seen the worst recession in 90 years, said Guterres.

Representational image
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And the crisis is far from over. Indeed, the speed of infections is now even increasing, he warned.

"We need to heed the lessons now if we are to reverse these dangerous trends, prevent successive waves of infection, avoid a lengthy global recession and get back on track to fulfil the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change."

Here are the six measures Guterres called for to address the challenge:

1. Vaccination for all: To end the pandemic, it is necessary to provide equitable access to vaccines for everyone everywhere. All countries in need must be provided with sufficient doses of the vaccine.

2. Concessional finance: There is a need to reverse the fall in concessional financing, including in middle-income countries. Development assistance is needed more than ever. Donors and international institutions must step up to help all countries recover from their losses.

3. Funding those in need: It should be made sure that funds go where they are needed the most. Guterres said "Latest reports indicate that there has been a 5-trillion-dollar surge in the wealth of the world's richest in the past year. I urge governments to consider a solidarity or wealth tax on those who have profited during the pandemic, to reduce extreme inequalities."

4. Debt crisis: There is a need to address the debt crisis with debt suspension, relief, and liquidity provided for countries that need it, he said, calling for the extension of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) of the Group of 20 (G20) into 2022.

Both the DSSI and the G20's Common Framework for Debt Treatments should be expanded to include all countries in need, such as middle-income countries. New mechanisms can make use of debt swaps, buy-backs and cancellations, he said.

Guterres called for bolder measures beyond debt relief. "We urgently need to strengthen the international debt architecture to end the deadly cycles of debt waves, global debt crises and lost decades. This starts with a time-bound, open dialogue with all stakeholders to build trust and transparency. We need an inclusive approach that encompasses private creditors and tackles long-standing weaknesses and gaps."

5. Invest in people: Investing in people is the need of the hour. "We need a new social contract, based on solidarity and investments in education, decent and green jobs, social protection, and health systems. This is the foundation for sustainable and inclusive development," he said.

6. Sustainable relaunching of economies: There is a need to relaunch economies sustainably and equitably, consistent with the SDGs and the Paris Agreement.

The latest report by the UN Environment Programme showed that just 2.5 per cent of recovery spending has positive, green characteristics, he said. "We are missing a once-in-a-generation opportunity for bold, creative solutions that will strengthen the response and recovery while accelerating progress across the entire 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement."

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