13 October 2020

Poverty Eradication Efforts, Tourism Sector Hard Hit by Devastating Consequences of COVID-19, Delegates Underline in Second Committee

Already impacted from economic slowdowns in recent years, efforts by States to eradicate poverty have been hindered by the devastating consequences of COVID‑19, delegates of the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) stressed today as they discussed tourism and eradication of poverty.

The global rate of extreme poverty dropped more than 1 per cent per year from 1990 to 2013, from 36 to 11.2 per cent, said Daniela Bas, a director in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, but that rate was down to less that 0.5 per cent annually by 2015.  Tens of millions will fall back into poverty in 2020 alone, as resources to eliminate it were already insufficient prior to COVID‑19, she said, introducing the Secretary-General´s report on “Implementation of the Third United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (2018-2027)”.

Addressing industry and poverty, Li Young, Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, said the coronavirus pandemic has led to setbacks in spending, employment and overall economic growth, with shocks on the demand and supply side of industry triggering the worst economic crisis in decades.  Presenting the Secretary-General’s report on “Industrial development cooperation”, he cited shop closures, unemployment and lower incomes resulting in reduced spending and demand, with factories closing or operating below capacity.

The tourism sector has particularly suffered from COVID-19, noted Dirk Glaesser, a director in the World Tourism Organization, introducing the Secretary‑General’s note on “Promotion of sustainable tourism, including ecotourism, for poverty eradication and environment protection”.  As of September 2020, 53 per cent of tourism destinations were hampered by the pandemic, with 93 destinations worldwide completely closed, he said.

The Committee also heard presentations of the World Tourism Organization’s report on “Implementation of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism” and the Secretary-General’s report on “Eradicating Rural Poverty to Implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.

During the ensuing debate, delegates emphasized that the pandemic poses a human and socioeconomic concern to all, with India’s delegate urging the international community to bolster efforts in eradicating poverty from multiple directions.  Likewise, the representative of China said the spread of COVID-19 has placed a huge strain on poverty reduction efforts, stressing the need for a greater sense of urgency to eradicate the scourge by 2030.

Addressing COVID-19’s effect on tourism, El Salvador’s representative said it has paralysed several key sectors of his country´s economy, adding that the industry constitutes 6.5 per cent of its gross domestic product.  Costa Rica´s delegate said tourism in his country has almost completely shut down, affecting 12 per cent of economic activity and hampering achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Committee started the day by closing out its discussion on Sustainable Development, with speakers noting that certain States were susceptible to crisis, exogenous shocks and climate change, stressing the urgency to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.  Others pointed to the need for reducing or cancelling heavy external debt, increasing science and technology transfer and financing for development assistance in achieving sustainable development.

Speakers at the morning’s meeting included the representatives of Belize (on behalf of the Association of Small Island States), Nicaragua, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Bolivia, Cabo Verde, Libya, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Lebanon, Zimbabwe, Oman, Niger, Mexico, Ukraine, Chile, Azerbaijan and Timor-Leste. The permanent observer for the Holy See also spoke.

Speaking at the afternoon’s session were the representatives of Guyana (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Cambodia (on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Honduras, Bangladesh, Cuba, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Indonesia, Ecuador and Saudi Arabia.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 14 October, to continue its discussion of tourism ethics and eradication of poverty.

For information media. Not an official record.