Prerecorded Statement by H.E. Mr. Volkan Bozkir, President of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly

12 April 2021

H.E. Mr. Munir Akram, President of the Economic and Social Council,

H.E. Mr. António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations,

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for the opportunity to address the 2021 ECOSOC Financing for Development Forum.

The focus of this year’s Forum is timely. The COVID-19 pandemic has precipitated the single largest economic contraction in 90-years, devastating lives and livelihoods in the process. Even with vaccines and a ‘light at the end of the tunnel’, we are nonetheless faced with years of socio-economic impacts.

The unfortunate reality is that we will likely be discussing this very issue at many future Forums. Today, however, at the earliest moments of global recovery, we have a chance to lay the foundation for a proper recovery, to sustain and build on for years to come.

Let us seize the opportunity of this crisis to effectively shift toward a more sustainable and resilient path, to demonstrate the strength and utility of the multilateral system, and to build a world that we will proudly pass down to future generations.

Volkan Bozkir

President of the UN General Assembly

Excellencies, we have an historic opportunity to set our recovery on a transformative pathway, one built upon the principles of equality, sustainability, and resilience.

Achieving this, however, will require bold political will, incredible mobilization of resources, and a whole-of-society approach. Public finance and debt sustainability need to be strengthened; social services must be expanded; inequalities must be reduced; and both climate resilience and low-carbon development must be embraced.

Excellencies, I challenge us to move beyond the rhetoric and actualize what is at the heart of this decade of action and recovery: mobilize financing for development. Now is the time for urgent, ambitious, and intentional economic action.

And I challenge us to recommit to our principle of leaving no one behind, and of ensuring dedicated support to countries in special situations, notably Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.

As of August 2020, US$20 trillion had been allocated to the global COVID-19 response, yet only US$8.5 billion had been allocated to the most vulnerable 91 countries in the world. In Least Developed Countries, that works out to less than US$6.90 per capita.

This is woefully inadequate. LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS face the same global pandemic, yet their challenges are compounded by historic, geographic, and circumstantial developments, including a drop in remittances, longstanding debt issues, and weak institutional or social support systems. It is estimated that it will take at least 5 years for LDCs and SIDS to return to their projected development paths.

Clearly more must be done to support those in need, if not for altruistic reasons, then out of self-interest. The global economy, and global well-being, will only be salvaged when we all emerge from this pandemic. A sporadic, country-by-country approach will only prolong this period and weigh on all of our systems and economies.

I commend the Secretary-General and the governments of Jamaica and Canada for initiating the ‘Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond’ process and its outcomes. The proposals will go a long way toward shaping our commitment to the FFD Agenda.

Excellencies, since the beginning of the session, I have been working with my Board of Advisers on LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS, with a view to seeking their advice on tackling the most pressing development challenges.

Amongst the advice that I have heard is that we need to:

–        advance the multidimensional vulnerability index;

–        go beyond debt suspension to debt forgiveness or cancellation, and establish a debt restructuring mechanism;

–        ensure rapid and enhanced access to concessional finance;

–        work towards the expansion or redistribution of liquidity through new Special Drawing Rights;

–        and fulfil ODA commitments, as well as the promise to mobilize US$100 billion per year by 2020 to help developing countries adapt to the impacts of climate change.

On this, I welcome indications from the International Monetary Fund on a new SDR allocation of $650 billion, which would supplement the foreign reserves of countries most in need. I also support the call made by IMF Managing Director to re-allocate existing SDRs to address the liquidity challenges in debt distressed countries.

Finally, I welcome the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative and reiterate the call for both an extension through the end of 2021 and the need to consider expanding the scope of this initiative to other developing countries in need.

Excellencies, the outcome of this FFD Forum will be taken forward in the General Assembly as we convene meetings on Middle-Income Countries and LDCs. These will be key moments for in-depth discussions on how the international financial system can provide better, targeted support.

In closing, allow me to emphasize that COVID-19 is indeed the greatest test of our generation’s commitment to multilateralism, global citizenship, and solidarity. Let us seize the opportunity of this crisis to effectively shift toward a more sustainable and resilient path, to demonstrate the strength and utility of the multilateral system, and to build a world that we will proudly pass down to future generations.

Because today, in this time of crisis, the old saying rings true: if not now, when?

Thank you.