UN Headquarters

28 May 2020

Opening remarks at joint press conference on the High-level Event on Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond

António Guterres

Hello everyone. Good afternoon, good evening, or goodnight.

Today’s High-Level Event was a meeting of solidarity with the many developing countries that face catastrophic consequences from COVID-19.  

The pandemic continues to cause deep suffering. More than 350,000 people have died; there are 5.5 million cases around the world. Behind these figures there is an unprecedented human tragedy.

The crisis is taking a devastating toll on economies. It is having a particularly dramatic impact on families and communities in developing countries that have fewer resources and weaker social safety nets.  

Since the pandemic began, I have pushed for a relief package amounting to a double-digit percentage – more than ten per cent – of the global economy.  

Developed countries have announced their own relief packages, because they can. But we have not yet seen enough solidarity with developing countries to provide them with the massive and urgent support they need.  

Today, I am encouraged to see 50 Heads of State and Government, the leaders of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Institute for International Finance, the OECD, the special envoys of the United Nations and the African Union and others – the largest gathering of leaders since the pandemic began – coming together around joint solutions to the crisis.  

Working groups will now consider six areas for urgent action with the first reporting to a  ministerial meeting at the end of July:  

First, finding ways to enhance global liquidity so that developing countries have the resources they need to fight the pandemic.  

Second, preventing debt crises in all countries at risk, including middle income countries. Such crises risk undermining both the COVID-19 response and sustainable development for years to come.  

Third, engaging with private creditors on joint debt relief efforts.   

Fourth, aligning global financial systems with the Sustainable Development Goals.

Fifth, ending illicit financial flows, and

Sixth, rebuilding differently, and better.  

Everything we do must be aimed at enabling developing countries to fight the pandemic, while keeping their communities, businesses and economies afloat.  

Dear friends,

Our world is afflicted by enormous fragilities: weak health systems; runaway climate change; unsustainable levels of inequality.  

We see other signs of this fragility everywhere, from the increasing risk of nuclear proliferation to the lawlessness of cyberspace.

Ignoring these warning signs is senseless arrogance. Existential threats demand humility, unity and solidarity.  

We cannot contemplate a return to the same failed priorities and systems. We must invest in a sustainable and inclusive recovery.  

Too often, speed and greed have triumphed over compassion, solidarity and humanity.

This pandemic is reminding us that the important things in life require investment – in people; in physical and mental wellbeing; in protecting our environment and in combating inequalities, including gender inequality.  

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change address precisely the failures that are being exposed and exploited by COVID-19.  

I want to thank my co-hosts, Prime Ministers Justin Trudeau and Andrew Holness, whose countries co-chair the Group of Friends of Sustainable Development.  

And I thank all those who have come together in solidarity today to  work together on a different and better world for our children and generations to come.  

Thank you.