UN DESA kicks off new webinar series to share expertise on COVID-19 impacts and the way forward
How is COVID-19 affecting our lives, economies and societies, and what is the path towards a sustainable recovery? More than 2,000 participants from 160 countries registered for a webinar on 9 April 2020 to find out. Broadcast simultaneously on WebEx and via Facebook Live, the event is part of UN DESA’s new webinar series on the economic and social impacts of COVID-19.
During the session, experts from UN DESA shared the main findings of three new briefing papers on the social, economic and financial impacts of the pandemic, as well as public policy recommendations towards a sustainable recovery.
UN Chief Economist Elliott Harris, in his opening remarks, stated that a coordinated global response to COVID-19 is crucial since this disease knows no borders. He said that UN DESA projects that the economic impact of the virus may range from a slowdown of global output growth to 1.2 per cent this year, to an outright contraction of up to 0.9 per cent. He noted that both figures depend heavily on the duration of the restrictions on the movement of people, as well as the effectiveness of the stimulus packages propping up demand, and the minimization of bankruptcies and unemployment.
Other speakers noted that the longer the pandemic goes on, the deeper the effects on our society. When formulating response measures, countries and stakeholders must preserve some of our progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, which remain more vital than ever. COVID-19 provides an opportunity to rebuild better, with more built-in social protection systems.
Overall, the pandemic is affecting different population groups unequally. For instance, employment losses related to COVID-19 are being felt hardest in sectors related to personal service and hospitality, which hit low-wage workers and women hardest. Good social protection measures recommended by one of the speakers, include securing workers’ jobs or expanding support to laid-off workers; increasing training opportunities; expanding income support to sick workers; expanding access to unemployment benefits; supporting workers who cannot work from home; increasing targeted benefits or one-off income transfer; and increasing health spending. In order to help reduce poverty and inequality, stimulus plans must be in place quickly and be phased out slowly.