8 September 2020

Commending Finance Ministers’ Proposals to Recover Better from COVID-19 Crisis, Deputy Secretary-General Says Bold Ideas Can Keep Families, Economy Afloat

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s closing 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:

Thank you all for your contributions and ideas for surviving and recovering from this pandemic and building a better future, based on the principles of inclusion and sustainability, and leaving no one behind.  While the virus continues to rage, we need bold proposals to keep families and economies afloat.

Today, we have heard options, including extending the debt service suspension initiative for at least one year and encouraging private sector participation, a general issuance or reallocation of special drawing rights, recapitalizing national, regional and multilateral development banks and declaring remittances an essential service.  Vulnerability and the importance of taking different national contexts into account also emerged as cross-cutting theme throughout the menu, such as options that called for expanding the criteria of the debt service suspension initiative to include middle-income countries and small island developing States, and creating targeted funds and facilities, including FACE, the Liquidity Sustainability Facility, a Caribbean resilience fund and a global trust fund to help tourism-dependent States.

At the same time, we need to take action today to lay foundations for the recovery from this crisis.  I am therefore heartened to hear of ambitious proposals such as implementing universal basic income and universal health care to ensure that future shocks to the financial system do not have catastrophic roll-over effects on the real economy; debt-for-Sustainable Development Goal and debt-for-climate swaps; and establishing comparable classification frameworks for sustainable activities to align finance with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement [on climate change].  Looking forward, utilizing digitalization to overcome the growing divides that have been so brutally exposed by the pandemic, including by combatting illicit financial flows which disproportionately flow out of developing economies, will also be crucial to level the playing field as we emerge from the crisis.

As aptly noted by participants today, there is no vaccine which can quickly and simply solve the socioeconomic crisis facing us today.  We must think innovatively and differently to strengthen economies, communities and societies, and emerge as a united front, ready to handle the shocks and crises that will inevitably come.

Looking forward, these proposals will be presented to Heads of State and Government on 29 September, and we will convene a follow-up meeting in December to benchmark progress in the context of delivering the Sustainable Development Goals.  Thank you for your engagement as we work to translate these options into opportunities.  With your support, together we will craft the solutions we need to overcome the COVID-19 crisis, recover better and build an inclusive and sustainable world.

For information media. Not an official record.