3 September 2020

Reskill Young People for Green Jobs, Address COVID-19 Crisis through Fiscal Action, Secretary-General Stresses at ‘Rebirthing the Global Economy’ Round Table

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ opening video message to round table two, “Insights from Young Women Economists on Jobs and Climate Action”, of the “Rebirthing the Global Economy to Deliver Sustainable Development” round-table series, in New York today:

Dear friends,

I am pleased to welcome you to the second discussion in the round-table series “Rebirthing the Global Economy to Deliver Sustainable Development”.  This series was launched so respected global economists could talk about new solutions that will guide an inclusive and sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

As the social and economic fallout of the pandemic grows ever more severe, the longer-term structural consequences are becoming increasingly evident.  Addressing the seismic shifts caused by COVID-19 requires encouraging bold ideas and innovative solutions, particularly from younger generations.

Today we will hear from exceptional young women economists, leaders in their field, who are addressing two issues critical to recovery and our shared future: jobs and climate change.

Even before the pandemic, the quality of jobs was deteriorating, and with COVID-19, unemployment, underemployment, and unpaid labour have reached crisis proportions.  By the end of the second quarter of 2020, it was estimated that the equivalent of 400 million jobs had been lost worldwide.

And the impacts of the pandemic have yet to be fully realized.  Worldwide, young people were already three times more likely than adults to be unemployed before the pandemic, making the impact of the current crisis on youth employment particularly acute.

We must do all we can to consider new ways of reskilling young workers now to ensure they have the right abilities for the economy of the future.  These include investing in technology skills, human skills that can’t be replaced by automation, and those aligned with green jobs.  And, as Governments take unprecedented fiscal actions to respond to the crisis, we must not lose sight of the long-term threat of climate change.

Last year was the second hottest year on record and 2020 may rival last year’s temperatures.  We face an existential crisis that is getting worse by the day.  Now is the moment to reconsider the economic models that have failed so many and contributed to the climate emergency.  We need polluters to pay for their pollution, an end to subsidies for fossil fuels and no new coal-fired power plants.  We need bold actions that balance people, planet and prosperity.

These must be central to strategies that will allow us to recover better.  I look forward to a fruitful discussion today to elicit new ideas on how we can realize these objectives.

Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.