Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message to the Economic and Social Council integration segment, in New York today:
It is a pleasure to address the integration segment of the Economic and Social Council.
Six months since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are only beginning to perceive the severity of its impacts on lives and livelihoods around the world. The pandemic is laying bare widespread and pervasive structural inequalities, from inadequate health infrastructure to gaps in social protection that are now a matter of life and death for so many.
It is reversing decades of progress on poverty and hunger and placing even greater obstacles on the pathway to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Those worst affected are those who were already vulnerable — people living in poverty, people with disabilities, other marginalized groups and women and children.
The United Nations has mobilized on all fronts to protect lives and ease the economic fallout, starting with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) coordination of the health response. I am proud of our achievements to date, from shipping medical goods and personal protective equipment to more than 130 countries, to helping more than 150 million children access education.
We have also called for massive global support for the most vulnerable people and countries; supported research and development for a people’s vaccine that is affordable and accessible to all; and convened the biggest gathering of world leaders since the start of the pandemic, to sharpen and accelerate global action to support countries in the developing world.
Looking forward, we are leading efforts towards more resilient, inclusive and sustainable economies and societies. Returning to the frameworks and systems that gave rise to this crisis is unthinkable. These unprecedented times call for deep reflection and strong action.
In the face of fragility, leaders of all kinds need to be humble, and to recognize the vital importance of unity and solidarity, both within and beyond the United Nations family. The new structures and capacities we established as part of the reform of the United Nations development system are strengthening our coordination and our ability to act quickly and with greater unity and impact.
The Economic and Social Council and its subsidiary bodies have also responded quickly. This segment, with its focus on integrating all the dimensions of sustainable development, can play a key role in ensuring that the response to COVID-19 stays true to the promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
As Chair of the United Nations Chief Executives Board, I am determined that the United Nations system will be at the centre of a coherent, people-centred recovery that is shaped by human rights.
We must work together more closely than ever before, in a networked, inclusive and effective multilateralism that links the whole United Nations system with regional organizations, international financial institutions, civil society, businesses, cities, regions and others.
We are facing enormously complex and interdependent challenges. I repeat my call for everyone — Governments, civil society, the private sector and development partners — to accelerate coordinated global action to ensure that we recover better from this crisis and deliver together on the promise of the 2030 Agenda.