Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohamed’s opening remarks to the round table on “Rebirthing the Global Economy to Deliver Sustainable Development: Insights from Women Leaders”, in New York today:
It is a pleasure to be with you all in this round table and an honour to take the floor after the Secretary-General and our friend Sri Mulyani.
We are here today to imagine a new global economy in which finance becomes a means and not an end. One that balances shareholders’ interests with people and planet in all areas, and especially in trade, debt vulnerability and external finance.
When I came across a magazine article last month about a group of economists who are, and I quote, “revolutionizing their field”, “flipping priorities” and “challenging outdated models and measures”, I knew I had to meet these women, which lifts the ability and credibility of women changing the world.
As renowned economists and leaders, we need your insights to understand trade flows and shape the value chains of the future — more sustainable and fairer. We need your arguments to persuade private creditors and rating agencies to consider their fiduciary duties in a wider perspective, encompassing their societal effects.
External finance also needs to change course. We need a partnership with financial markets to change the balance and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Investments cannot be only about profit at any cost. Investments need to land on the right side of history.
In rebirthing, we need to break the inequality and environmental degradation enchantment that darken our future. The new global economy must be based on sustainable consumption and production, on sustainable infrastructure that gives access to all to the opportunities of the future.
And the transformation cannot stop there. We need to transform our institutions — private and public — to ensure that democracy and markets are accountable to people. We need to co-create and expand partnerships now to ensure a green and more inclusive and fairer response and recovery.
It is not going to be easy — we are living in times of deep geopolitical, technological and intergenerational shifts. For the first time in a century, there is no model to move to. Globalization and liberal markets have failed us on many fronts, but we don’t have an alternative paradigm. We need to create one; one based on putting people and the planet first. And we need to do it for the next generations.
Pandemics, acute inequality, climate change, demographic shifts, shrinking civic space, loss of privacy, big cities and rapid technological change are all in their horizon. They do not see themselves in a digitalized and robotized economy. They do not see themselves in traditional jobs. They do not see themselves. And that is a tragedy.
Rebirthing the global economy is an opportunity to empower them to confront the current and looming challenges. And I count on you to help us make that happen.