Guangzhou, China

21 November 2020

Secretary-General's video message to International Finance Forum 2020 Annual Meeting

Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

I am pleased to address this important summit.

You meet when the toll from COVID-19 continues to mount.

Around the world, the economic and social consequences are outpacing policy responses.

The pandemic has exposed the fragility not just of our health systems, but also of our global institutions and multilateral efforts.

We must address the immediate crisis and build back better.

International finance has a crucial role to play.

Countries need access to liquidity and resources to respond to the emergency and to recover better.

Foreign direct investment, remittances and other financial flows have plunged with the crisis.

Debt burdens have skyrocketed and a wave of sovereign defaults is imminent.

Many countries urgently need debt relief. 

I welcome the G20’s extension of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative for another six months, which will be crucial to allow vulnerable countries to service their health and social sectors.

But greater support is needed to meet the magnitude of this challenge.  

I will continue to push for an extension through the end of 2021 and, critically, to expand its scope to all developing and middle-income countries in need, including Small Island Developing States.

International support will be key in finding a way to get back on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

As a formidable countercyclical force, public international finance must focus on two key priorities.

First, it must be allocated to countries and sectors most in need, including health, education and social protection, in the short term, and all facets of sustainable development in the long term.

Secondly, it must be used to leverage private and domestic financing by enhancing tax systems and through specific tools such as incentives and guarantees.

The current crisis has amplified the need for a New Social Contract to build inclusive, resilient and sustainable societies.

A New Global Deal would help solve shared problems and ensure that global political and economic systems deliver on critical global public goods.

A COVID-19 vaccine is one such global public good.

We must ensure it is available and affordable for everyone.

The ACT-Accelerator is a global solution that will help meet this goal, but we need $35 billion dollars to scale up for impact.

Addressing the climate crisis is also a global public good.

I welcome recent announcements by large economies, including China, the European Union, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United Kingdom to join other countries that have committed to net-zero emissions targets.

The step taken by New Zealand and other countries, including the United Kingdom, to adopt climate-related financial disclosures is also commendable.

Governments need to ensure that short-term actions, COVID-19 stimulus and recovery packages and their Nationally Determined Contributions all align with the Paris Agreement targets and the SDGs.

The private sector must also be accountable.

We need to reorient global financial systems so all actors integrate sustainable development and climate risk into decision-making.

Capitalizing on digital technology is also crucial.

The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated trends in new technology, including in providing access to financial services and social protection systems.

But it has also highlighted gaps and inequalities.

We need to step up global collaboration, strengthening knowledge exchange and capacity building.

And all our actions need to be guided by the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.

These are our beacons for ambitious action and transformative change.

I wish you a productive meeting.