Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s introductory remarks at the high-level meeting of Ministers of Finance: “Financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond”, in New York today:
It is an honour to welcome and join such a distinguished gathering of Finance Ministers as we face so many uncertainties in unchartered waters. The COVID-19 pandemic, and its social and economic consequences, have touched the lives of everyone around the world. More than 890,000 people have died, and 27 million have been or are infected. With lockdown measures continuing, borders closed, debt skyrocketing and fiscal resources plunging, the pandemic is pushing us towards the worst recession in decades, possibly a depression, with terrible consequences for the most vulnerable.
We have all heard the projections of the dire consequences. Between 70 million and 100 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty; an additional 265 million people could face acute food shortages by the end of this year. An estimated 400 million jobs have been lost, disproportionately affecting women. Some 1.6 billion learners have had their studies disrupted; many may never return to school.
Finding immediate and lasting solutions is our responsibility. We applaud the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank Group and other international institutions that have taken action to address the pandemic. The measures are working for some countries, but, with the best intentions, they are insufficient to address the varying needs. The world is yet to show the unity and solidarity required for a global response to a crisis unparalleled in recent history.
Heeding the early warning signs, the Secretary-General and the Prime Ministers of Canada and Jamaica launched in May the initiative that brings us together today: a global call to action to address the stress on nations and people, especially women and youth, to course correct, and to lay the foundations for a strong global recovery based on sustainability and economic inclusion.
For the past three months, six discussion groups have worked on a menu of options to address issues critical to economic survival, recovery and the imperative of building back better. Today, we want to hear your feedback and ensure that the options reflect your expectations and views before we inform the high-level meeting of Heads of State and Government on 29 September. As one expert reminded us: “Finance is a tool we designed, and we can redesign it”.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the Paris Agreement continue to be our guides. I hope you will join us in seizing this initiative to consolidate a menu of options to support your work for the immediate economic relief people need, a people’s vaccine for COVID-19, and to tackle deep injustices, inequalities and governance, while we stand ready, together, to rethink a global financial system that works for these unprecedented times. I thank the Prime Ministers of Jamaica and Canada for their leadership. I look forward to hearing your views.