UN Secretary-General António Guterres on the upcoming G20
The UN Secretary-General António Guterres prepares to brief the media on the upcoming G20 Summit.
When he addresses leaders of the world’s richest countries at the G20 summit on Saturday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres will deliver a simple message on the COVID-19 pandemic: “We need solidarity and cooperation. And we need concrete action now — especially for the most vulnerable.”
Speaking in New York on the eve of the virtual meeting, the UN chief told reporters that the world must ensure recovery from the crisis will be inclusive, sustainable and in line with global climate goals.
Saudi Arabia, collectively represent around 80 per cent of the world’s economic output and 75 per cent of international trade
“The recent breakthroughs on COVID-19 vaccines offer a ray of hope. But that ray of hope needs to reach everyone. That means ensuring that vaccines are treated as a global public good – a people’s vaccine accessible and affordable to everyone, everywhere,” he said.
“This is not a ‘do-good’ exercise. It is the only way to stop the pandemic dead in its tracks. Solidarity is indeed survival.”
Vaccines for all
The leaders participating in the G20 summit, hosted online this year by Saudi Arabia, collectively represent around 80 per cent of the world’s economic output and 75 per cent of international trade, according to the website for the event.
The Secretary-General will press them to support global mechanisms striving to make any COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics affordable and accessible to anyone, anywhere, who needs them.
Although countries have so far invested $10 billion in the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator and its vaccine pillar, the COVAX Facility, they are still underfunded.
Some $28 billion more is needed, including $4.2 billion before the end of the year, according to Mr. Guterres,
“This funding is critical for mass manufacturing, procurement and delivery of new COVID-19 vaccines and tools around the world”, he said. “G20 countries have the resources.”
He added that the UN is also working to combat damaging vaccine myths, conspiracies and other misinformation on social media, in efforts to strengthen public trust and save lives.
Averting a ‘debt pandemic’
With the pandemic putting developing countries “on the precipice of financial ruin and escalating poverty, hunger and untold suffering”, the Secretary-General will again appeal for stepped-up support from the G20.
He will call for the bloc to increase financial resources available to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), including through a new allocation of Special Drawing Rights, which are a type of supplementary reserve asset that can boost liquidity during crises.
The G20 also has suspended debt service payments from more than 70 of the world’s poorest countries through June 2021, among other welcoming measures. However, the UN chief wants leaders to do more.
“I am pushing for a further extension through the end of 2021 and, critically, to expand the scope of the initiatives to all developing and middle-income countries in need”, he said.
“And we need to build a global architecture to enhance debt transparency and sustainability. A domino effect of bankruptcies could devastate the global economy. We cannot let the COVID pandemic lead to a debt pandemic.”
‘A quantum leap towards carbon neutrality’
Mr. Guterres stressed that pandemic recovery must be aligned with global targets for sustainable development and slowing climate change.
He pointed to hopeful developments, such as the growing coalition of countries pledging to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
“I firmly believe that 2021 can be a new kind of leap year – the year of a quantum leap towards carbon neutrality. We must all make that leap together. It will not be possible without developing countries. They will need significant support. Here, too, solidarity is survival,” he told correspondents.