UN Headquarters

26 April 2021

Remarks to event on pandemic preparedness and response financing architecture

António Guterres

Excellencies,

Thank you for being part of this important discussion.

The COVID-19 pandemic caught the world unprepared.

It has now taken more than 3 million lives and pushed millions into poverty.

To respond and recover better we need more investment in the Sustainable Development Goals.

Progress on reducing poverty, providing equal access to health care and tackling the climate crisis means better resilience to shocks.

If we had advanced further on the SDGs, we would have been better prepared to weather the COVID-19 crisis.

Tragically, this crisis is far from over.

As well as urgently tackling the pandemic at hand, we need to build a global system that deals with problems before they turn into catastrophes.

That means we must recognize that any pandemic is more than just a health crisis.

We need to understand that failing to get ahead of a crisis is extremely costly.

And we need to see that it is in everyone’s interests to address all aspects of a crisis, everywhere.

So, how can we end the COVID-19 crisis and prevent new emergencies?

I see five areas of focus.

First, we need to work together.

The ACT-Accelerator and its COVAX facility is a good example of solidarity.

It must be fully resourced to ensure equitable access to vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics.

To end the pandemic everywhere, we need a global vaccination plan that includes increasing manufacturing capacity.

Countries need to work together to ensure sufficient supply, fair distribution and vaccine confidence.

Second, we need to make peace with nature.

A “One Health”, approach recognizes that human well-being is closely connected to the health of wildlife, domesticated animals and our shared environment.

Seventy-five per cent of new infectious diseases are zoonotic, threatening global health security.

We should stop encroaching into wildlife habitats and step up our efforts to deal with the climate crisis.

Third, we need to invest in risk surveillance and social safety nets.

We need a global alert system that uses the latest technology to keep pace with growing levels of risk.

And we need to invest in scaling up cash transfers and providing public services that will promote a recovery that leaves no one behind .

Fourth, we must act on pandemic preparedness.

COVID-19 has shown how vulnerable we are without an internationally coordinated approach.

We need to strengthen the implementation of the International Health Regulations.

It would provide a framework for international cooperation and solidarity, including sustainable funding and capacity to prevent, detect and respond to outbreaks.

I believe this was the realization that led more than 25 world leaders to issue a call to support a new international treaty on pandemic preparedness and response.

Fifth, and finally, we need to anticipate crises and act early.

To do this we need to get the financing right.

Over half of all crises are at least somewhat predictable and 20 per cent are very predictable.

Yet less than 1 per cent of funding is pre-arranged.

We need significantly more dedicated and predictable financing to bring preparedness to scale and to release funds before a disaster, rather than asking for funds when people are already suffering.

For example, support from the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund can prevent hunger and disease, improve people’s well-being and protect their incomes and livestock.

Such examples have a direct bearing on the situation we find ourselves in today.

We can end the COVID-19 crisis by making sure that everyone has access to vaccines, and that all Governments have the funds to support their most vulnerable people.

Let us resolve to never let this suffering happen again.

Thank you.