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Guterres renews zero-emissions appeal to avoid falling into climate abyss

In his keynote speech at a high-level climate gathering in Petersberg, Germany – six months before world leaders convene in Glasgow, Scotland, for the COP26 Climate Summit – the UN chief also offered a message of hope, insisting that it was still possible to avert the worst impacts of emissions-fuelled environmental shocks.

“I see encouraging signs from some major economies”, he said, referring to countries that represent 73 per cent of emissions having committed to net zero emissions by mid-century.

All countries – especially in the G20 – need to close the mitigation gap further by COP26, he insisted, highlighting the threat already faced by developing countries, where “people are dying, farms are failing (and) millions face displacement”.

Degrees of hope

“The bottom line is that, by 2030, we must cut global emissions by 45 per cent compared to 2010 levels to get to net zero emissions by 2050. That is how we will keep the hope of 1.5 degrees alive.”

The world’s top priority should be to dispense with polluting coal-fired power stations altogether and replace them with renewable energy, the UN Secretary-General maintained.

This should happen by 2030 in the wealthy countries that belong to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and by 2040 across the globe.

Dramatic as this transition away from fossil fuel will be, it must be inclusive and “just…involving local governments, unions and the private sector to support affected communities and generate green jobs”, Mr. Guterres continued.

After hailing governments that had pledged to end fossil fuel subsidies, the UN Secretary-General insisted that it was time for all countries to “put a price on carbon and shift taxation from income to carbon”.

And in a direct appeal to concerned citizens, he asked “shareholders of multilateral development banks and development finance institutions” to push for funding solutions for “low-carbon, climate-resilient development that is aligned with the 1.5 degree (2015 Paris Agreement) goal”.


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Developing trust

Developing countries needed this financial support in particular, as annual adaptation costs in the developing world alone are estimated at $70 billion “and these could rise to $300 billion by 2030”, the UN chief explained.

“I reiterate my call to donors and multilateral development banks to ensure that at least 50 per cent of climate finance is for adaption and resilience”, Mr. Guterres said, noting that “adaptation finance” to developing countries represents only 21 per cent of climate finance today.  

To help these poorer nations in particular, “developed countries must honour their long-standing promise to provide $100 billion annually for climate action in developing countries”, the Secretary-General continued, adding that the success of the upcoming COP26 “rests on achieving a breakthrough on adaptation and finance. This is a matter of urgency and trust.”

The Petersberg Climate Dialogue is an annual event that has been convened by Germany since 2010. It brings together ministers from over 30 countries, top executives, civil society and subnational leaders in preparation for the annual climate COP, which will be held in Glasgow from 1 to 12 November.

Young people key to transforming world’s food systems

The online discussions, which centred around topics such as agriculture, education and climate change, will serve as direct input to a landmark UN Food Systems Summit, due to be held in September. 

More than a plateful 

Transforming food systems is critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said in a video message for the event. 

She highlighted how “food is much bigger than what is on your plate”, noting key connections with health, environment and culture.   

“This is a complex challenge, but only together will we transform our food systems to be more equitable, inclusive and sustainable and deliver the SDGs by 2030”, she said.  

Profit over purpose 

Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, explained why food systems much change on a planet where half of all children do not have access to healthy diets, amid a “worrying increase” in overweight and obesity. 

“Too often, food systems put profit over purpose. This places the most nutritious foods often out of reach for many households”, she said. 

“Families are forced to turn to heavily marketed and unhealthy alternatives. These may be cheaper and more available. But they also lead to poor nutritional outcomes, threatening children’s development and growth and — in the worst cases — survival itself.” 

COVID-19 and rising hunger 

The UN Food Systems Summit is organized around five “Action Tracks” to foster initiatives on issues such as boosting “nature-positive” food production and shifting to sustainable consumption patterns. 

Janya Green from the United States is a youth co-chair on Action Track 1, which covers ensuring access to safe and nutritious food for all.  She has been working on community food gardens since she was 12. 

“As you all know, hunger worldwide is a huge problem. The number of undernourished people continued to increase in 2019.  Even before taking COVID-19 into account, hunger was predicted to rise.  If we do not reverse these current trends, the SDG zero-hunger target will not be met,” she warned. 

Unsplash/Zoe Schaeffer
A woman tends to plants on a small-scale, sustainable farm in Pennsylvania, USA.

‘The future is youth’ 

The pandemic has exposed deep-rooted inequities, including in food systems, the UN Deputy Secretary-General observed. While young people are among those hit hard by the aftershocks, Ms. Mohammed said they have also been resilient, converting challenges into opportunities. 

Agnes Kalibata, the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy to the Food Systems Summit, stressed that it would be impossible to hold the event without engaging with youth. 

Ms. Kalibata, who is from Rwanda, recalled that young people make up 77 per cent of the total population in Africa, and around 50 per cent of the global population. 

 “This is about the future”, she said.  “The future is youth. The future of our world is our youth.”

UN forum examines how to make science and technology work better for all

The Multi-Stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals (STI Forum) aims to identify gaps and promote partnerships in efforts to achieve a greener world by 2030. 

In remarks to the forum, the UN Secretary-General emphasized how the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the importance of science, technology and innovation for human well-being and survival, as well as the need for greater global cooperation. 

His statement was delivered by Maria Francesca Spatolisano, Assistant Secretary-General in the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs. 

Pandemic sparks innovations 

Addressing the pandemic, the UN chief said not only was a vaccine developed in record time, but the crisis has also increased innovation in medicines and digital communications technologies.   

At the same time, scientific discovery and collaborations have accelerated and new ways of delivering services have proliferated.   

The Secretary-General said these advances hold promise for collective challenges beyond the pandemic, including in limiting climate disruption, reducing inequalities and “ending our war on nature”.  

© UNICEF/Chansereypich Seng
In March, representatives from UNICEF and WHO visited hospitals in Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia to monitor the progress of COVID-19 vaccination through COVAX.

Billions still excluded 

However, he noted that billions of people worldwide still remain largely excluded from the benefits of the information and technology revolution, and the pandemic has only exacerbated existing technology divides. 

“It is essential that we work together — across borders, sectors and disciplines — to make science and technology work for everyone”, his statement said. 

“Multi-stakeholder cooperation will continue to be the key, helping us to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, address climate change, end the biodiversity and pollution crises and rise to our other common challenges.” 

Technology for development 

The STI Forum, now in its sixth year, is part of the UN Technology Facilitation Mechanism, an online platform which supports countries in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by their 2030 deadline.   

Through the platform, UN entities, Member States, civil society, the private sector, the scientific community and other stakeholders share information, experiences, best practices and policy advice. 

Last June, the Secretary-General also launched a Roadmap for Digital Cooperation.  Its eight objectives include achieving universal connectivity by 2030 as roughly half the world’s population, or three billion people, most of them women, do not have access to the Internet. 

Pandemic showcases need for partnerships: ECOSOC President

“If ever there was need for partnership, it is now”, ECOSOC President Munir Akram said in his opening remarks to the virtual gathering. 

Highlighting the UN’s unique role in bringing together countries, companies and civil society, he outlined several areas where partnerships can be used to respond to COVID-19 and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Vaccines for all 

Mr. Akram said defeating the pandemic is the top priority, which calls for universal and equitable access to vaccines and related materials, equipment and technologies. Countries also must work together to prevent millions from descending into extreme poverty and destitution. 

“This means helping the poorest people with direct and indirect economic support and social safety nets”, Mr. Akram said. “It means providing the poorest countries with fiscal space through debt relief, emergency grants and concession financing to save lives and livelihoods.” 

Pandemic recovery also must be sustained. He said while richer countries have devoted some $17 trillion to revive their economies, developing nations will need around $4.3 trillion to not only recover from the pandemic but to get back on the path to sustainable development. 

Promote financing solutions 

The ECOSOC President said global partnerships must help to promote financing solutions such as debt restructuring, low-interest loans and greater foreign investment.  The creation of $650 billion in new special drawing rights (SDRs), a type of foreign reserve asset developed by the International Monetary Fund, is another important component. 

“We need to redress the structurally induced economic and social inequalities among and within nations, including through reformed and equitable trade, investment, tax and technology instruments”, Mr Akram continued. 

He added that roughly $100 trillion in investment in sustainable infrastructure will be needed over the next three decades to bring about a resilient and environmentally-friendly global economy. 

Pandemic recovery fund 

The overall costs of the pandemic have been profound, Jens Wandel, Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General on Reforms, told ambassadors. 

He reported on the UN COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, established to help countries cope with the staggering social and economic impacts of the crisis.   

The Fund supported innovations in healthcare and education, such as health digitalization in Morocco and establishment of telehealth technologies in Tajikistan. 

Mr Wandel recommended that as the international community begins moving towards recovery, “some of the partnerships should also take a look at the innovation that has taken place…and then seek not only to sustain them but also to scale them.”

Global e-commerce jumps to $26.7 trillion, fuelled by COVID-19

According to UN trade and development experts UNCTAD, the e-commerce sector saw a “dramatic” rise in its share of all retail sales, from 16 per cent to 19 per cent in 2020.

The digital retail economy experienced most growth in the Republic of Korea, where internet sales increased from around one in five transactions in 2019, to more than one in four last year.

“These statistics show the growing importance of online activities”, said Shamika Sirimanne, UNCTAD’s director of technology and logistics. “They also point to the need for countries, especially developing ones, to have such information as they rebuild their economies in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

The UK also saw a spike in online transactions over the same period, from 15.8 to 23.3 per cent; so too did China (from 20.7 to 24.9 per cent), the US (11 to 14 per cent), Australia (6.3 to 9.4 per cent), Singapore (5.9 to 11.7 per cent) and Canada (3.6 to 6.2 per cent).  

Online business-to-consumer (B2C) sales for the world’s top 13 companies stood at $2.9 trillion in 2020, UNCTAD said on Friday.

UNCTAD, based on national statistics offices.

Bumpy ride

UNCTAD also said that among the top 13 e-commerce firms – most being from China and the US – those offering ride-hailing and travel services have suffered.

These include holiday site Expedia, which fell from fifth place in 2019 to 11th in 2020, a slide mirrored by travel aggregator, Booking Holdings, and Airbnb.

By comparison, e-firms offering a wider range of services and goods to online consumers fared better, with the top 13 companies seeing a more than 20 per cent increase in their sales – up from 17.9 per cent in 2019.

These winners include Shopify, whose gains rose more than 95 per cent last year – and Walmart (up 72.4 per cent). 


Overall, global e-commerce sales jumped to $26.7 trillion in 2019, up four per cent from a year earlier, the UN number-crunchers noted, citing the latest available estimates.

In addition to consumer online purchases, this figure includes “business-to-business” (B2B) trade, which put together was worth 30 per cent of global gross domestic product two years ago.

Don’t let the digital divide become ‘the new face of inequality’: UN deputy chief

Although technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain are opening new frontiers of productivity and providing opportunities to people and societies, they pose numerous risks, she said, including exclusion. 

“Almost half the world’s population, 3.7 billion people, the majority of them women, and most in developing countries, are still offline”, Ms Mohammed told ambassadors, tech experts and representatives from civil society groups. 

“Collectively, our task is to help design digital environments that can connect everyone with a positive future. This is why we need a common effort, with collaboration among national and local governments, the private sector, civil society, academia and multilateral organizations.” 

A fragmented digital space 

Ms Mohammed outlined areas for global cooperation, highlighting the key role the UN has in responding to what she characterized as the growing fragmentation in the digital space.   

“Geopolitical fault lines between major powers are emerging, with technology as a leading area of tension and disagreement”, she said.  At the same time, tech companies are responding in different ways to issues surrounding privacy, data governance and freedom of expression.   

The situation is made worse by the deepening digital divide between developed and developing countries, she added, resulting in global discussions on digital issues becoming less inclusive and representative. 

‘Global town hall’ needed 

“Now more than ever, we need a global townhall to address these issues and to capitalise on technology’s transformational potential to create new jobs, boost financial inclusion, close the gender gap, spur a green recovery and redesign our cities”, she said. 

The UN deputy chief underlined the value of engagement, as achieving universal connectivity cannot be left solely to governments or individual tech companies. 

She stressed that no single country or company “should steer the course of our digital future”. 

Development depends on connectivity 

The General Assembly debate sought to generate political commitments to address the widening digital divide as pandemic recovery efforts align with the push to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the end of the decade. 

“In a world of unparalleled innovation, where our loved ones are but a video call away, billions struggle to access even the most basic elements of connectivity or live with none at all. Truly, for billions of people the pace and scale of sustainable development is reliant upon digital connectivity,” said Volkan Bozkir, the General Assembly President. 


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He stressed that “now is the time to act” as the digital divide, which existed long before COVID-19, was only made worse by the crisis. However, recovery offers the chance for true transformation. 

“As I have frequently stated, we must use the SDGs as a guide to our post-COVID recovery.  This means ensuring that no one is left behind, no one is left offline, and that we apply a whole-of-society, multi-stakeholder, and intergenerational approach to our efforts”, he said. 

“This is particularly important for the world’s 1.8 billion young people, who must be equipped with the skills and resources to thrive in an ever-changing, tech-driven future.” 

Mr Bozkir called for strengthening implementation of initiatives such as the UN Secretary-General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation, launched last June. In addition to achieving universal connectivity, its eight objectives include ensuring human rights are protected in the digital era.

‘Make or break moment’ for forests

Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said we were at a “make or break moment”, adding that woodlands provide vital functions, including as guardians of fresh water sources and biodiversity protection. 

“Investing in forests is key to climate resilience and sustainable and resilient recovery”, she underscored, stressing that it is critical for all hands to be on deck now in support of forests worldwide. 

Moreover, failure to protect forests would have a major, negative impact on damaging and rising carbon emissions. 

The deputy UN chief said that forests must be adequately financed, including through alleviating debt burdens for those States which are expected to do more for woodland protection and sustainable agriculture overall.  

‘Wide-ranging global crises’ 

Pointing out that the world is facing “wide-ranging global crises” that are “intrinsically linked” to the health and sustainability of our environment, General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir called the discussion “particularly timely”.  

“Clearly our world is telling us that there is a problem in our relationship with nature”, he said, noting the impact of COVID-19, a zoonotic disease that highlights the risks associated with human encroachment; species extinction rates, which range from 100 to 1,000 times above the baseline rate; and rising global warming, with 2016 and 2020 tied as the warmest years on record. 

“Unfortunately, as a society, we tend to focus on the symptoms and not the underlying conditions, and we have ignored the Earth’s messages for far too long”, said the Assembly president. “Hopefully, we can help change that”.   

Building political momentum 

The UN official drew attention to a high-level dialogue on 20 May that will focus on pandemic recovery and highlight how to help tackle desertification, land degradation and drought.  

It will encompass a “strong push around the need to use this momentous recovery effort to create jobs and shovel-ready projects that support land restoration, regenerative agriculture, renewable energy and energy efficiency, as well as investments in sustainable land management”, said Mr. Bozkir.  

He hoped that the discussion would also help support the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, degradation neutrality targets and national drought plans – in line with the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction, the Nationally Determined Contributions of countries’ commitments to increasing climate actions through the 2015 Paris Agreement, and future commitments under the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. 

The Assembly president noted that 2021 will be “a milestone year for the three Rio Conventions on Desertification, Biodiversity and Climate Change”, adding that these important issues are linked and actions must be coordinated for maximum impact.  

“As we move from the Decade to Fight Desertification into a new Decade of Ecosystem Restoration, let us take this opportunity to renew our commitment to creating a future that is more equitable, where all people benefit from living in harmony with nature”, he said. 

Moving forward 

QU Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), spoke about new research linking successful forest restoration with rolling back biodiversity loss and species extinction.  

He maintained that well preserved habitats and healthy agriculture are key pathways forward and also underscored the importance of indigenous people in forest protection and preservation, calling their role “paramount”. 

“Investing in forests is investing in our future”, he said. “We must strengthen our global efforts to protect and restore forests and support the livelihoods of forest-dependent communities. Only then can we realize our shared vision for a more just, equitable and sustainable world”. 

©FAO/Xiaofen Yuan
Progress in protecting the world’s forests is at risk due to the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the escalating climate and biodiversity crises, according to the Global Forest Goals Report 2021.

Global Forest Goals Report 

The event also launched the Global Forest Goals Report 2021, which evaluates where the world stands in implementing the UN Strategic Plan for Forests 2030. 

While the world had been making progress in key areas, such as increasing global forest area through afforestation and restoration, findings reveal that the worsening state of our natural environment is threatening these and other gains.  

“Before the pandemic, many countries were working hard to reverse native forest loss and increase protected areas designated for biodiversity conservation”, wrote Secretary-General António Guterres in the report’s foreword.  

“Some of those gains are now at risk with worrying trends of increased deforestation of primary tropical forests.”

Prioritize people and planet, UN chief urges Asian and Pacific nations

In a message to the annual session of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), Secretary-General António Guterres underlined the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as the blueprint for a strong recovery, leaving no one behind.

“That starts with universal health coverage and social protection, and decent work.”

The UN chief also called for making “peace with nature” and stronger efforts to tackle the climate crisis, including investing in renewable energy, sustainable food systems, and nature-based solutions.

“Looking forward, recovery plans cannot be based on outdated, unsustainable economic models. Investments to rebuild the economy must be centred around inclusive, sustainable development that prioritizes people and planet”, he added.

Theme of the session

Convened in a virtual setting from 26 to 29 April, countries at the 77th session of ESCAP will discuss how regional cooperation can help countries “build back better” from the pandemic.

Also on the agenda is the impact of the pandemic on the region’s least developed and landlocked developing countries, and small islands, including equitable distribution of vaccines and financial support initiatives, debt reliefs and debt service suspension.

The Commission will also discuss the status of implementation of sustainable development in the region amid the pandemic and its socio-economic fallout, with several countries reeling under successive waves of coronavirus infections.

Established in 1947, ESCAP is the largest of the UN’s five regional commissions – both in terms of geographic coverage and population served – its membership spanning from the Pacific island nation of Kiribati in the east, to Turkey in the west, and Russia in the north, to New Zealand in the south. ESCAP’s membership also includes France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Opening of the 77th session of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

Key areas for recovery

Outlining priorities necessary to ensure a recovery in line with the 2030 Agenda, Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, Executive Secretary of ESCAP, called on countries to integrate health risk management into their socio-economic strategies, and to scale up of social protection policies to include all segments of the society, especially those working in informal sectors, persons with disabilities, and older persons.

She also underlined the need for sustainable financing, with a focus on investment in resilient economies, as well as strengthening regional trade and transport connectivity to better withstand shocks and disruptions.

In addition, countries must ensure that the COVID-19 recovery is strong, clean and green, Ms. Alisjahbana said.

“It is high time for governments to adopt a climate and environmentally responsive approach in line with the Paris Agreement. Let us urgently invest in renewable energy, energy efficient production system, green infrastructure and ecosystem restoration”, she added.

‘Inequality virus’ threatens ‘catastrophe for all’ unless crisis can be overcome together

Deliberations throughout the four-day long forum highlighted the “full scope” of the COVID impact, said UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed. 

“The worst health and economic downturn in our lifetime has laid bare and exacerbated the vulnerabilities in our economies and societies, leading some to describe COVID-19 as the inequality virus”, she added. 

Alarming problems 

Developing countries have faced “ballooning debt burdens” and constrained fiscal budget, and high borrowing costs, with a limited ability to respond to the pandemic, Ms. Mohammed explained. 

“The diverging world that we are hurtling towards is a catastrophe for all of us”, she spelled out. “It is both morally right and economically rational to help developing countries overcome this crisis”. 

To prevent the risk of a “lost decade for development”, she upheld that extraordinary levels of public spending “continue to be critical to keep vulnerable economies afloat”, as do structural transformations for protecting the global economy against future crises. 

‘Moral blight’  

Rapid access to vaccines for all citizens of the world is a top priority, she said, noting that the average number of people inoculated in Africa remains under one per cent. 

“This is a moral blight on the international community”, she said, calling on governments, development partners and private sector actors to “finance equitable vaccination for all, as a matter of utmost urgency”. 

It is also crucial to alleviate debt and liquidity pressures by continuing and expanding the Debt Suspension Initiative to include vulnerable middle-income countries and small island developing States. 

“Eligibility for debt relief must be based on actual need rather than GDP, especially as the world hurdles towards a climate catastrophe”, she said, adding that governments should not be forced to service debt “at the expense of responding to their own populations”.  

Promoting investment 

Moreover, the pandemic has underscored the importance of front-loading investments in social protection measures, to protect against future shocks. 

“Governments need to prioritize the wellbeing of their populations, including by heavily investing in free education, universal healthcare and strong healthcare systems”, said Ms. Mohammed, also underscoring the importance of “decoupling livelihoods from the volatility of the global economy” and securing a guaranteed income. 

Meeting the goals 

Governments need to prioritize the wellbeing of their populations — Deputy UN chief

To achieve these objectives, the world needs to redirect finance to where it is most needed, “with a strategic eye” to preventing future shocks from mutating into a disasters on the level of COVID-19, warned the deputy UN chief. 

“Governments must strengthen the planning of sustainable investment…and we must address the incentives and bottlenecks to unlock private capital to invest in sustainable development”, she added. 

Getting back on track 

The senior UN official acknowledged that today’s challenges go beyond COVID-19 and include the climate crisis, drought, hunger and heightened insecurity, “all of which are being exacerbated by the long-term economic effects of the inequality virus”.   

Recovery efforts must tackle all these challenges “head-on”, said Ms. Mohammed, urging all participants to take “immediate action for a timely and adequate global response that would put us back on track for a prosperous, sustainable and equal world and the implementation of Agenda 2030”.  

The sixth FfD Forum was convened between 12 to 15 April 2021 in a hybrid (virtual and in-person) format at UN Headquarters in New York.


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Guterres calls for ‘paradigm shift’ to recover from COVID setbacks

Secretary-General António Guterres painted a grim picture of the past year during which more than three million have died from the virus. Around 120 million have fallen into extreme poverty and the equivalent of 255 million full-time jobs have been lost. 

He noted that as the speed of infections is increasing, “the crisis is far from over”.   

“An enormous push at the highest political level” is needed, said Mr. Guterres, to reverse these dangerous trends, prevent successive waves of infection, avoid a lengthy global recession and get back on track to fulfil the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.  

Testing multilateralism 

Advancing an equitable global response to recover from the pandemic is “putting multilateralism to the test”, the UN chief said, adding, “so far, we have failed”. 

To illustrate this, he pointed out that just 10 countries globally account for around 75 per cent of COVID vaccinations given, noting that some estimates put the global cost of unequal access and vaccine hoarding at more than $9 trillion. 

Mr. Guterres underscored the need for “unity and solidarity” to save lives and prevent catastrophic debt and dysfunction.  

Call for critical actions  

To set the course for a sustainable and resilient COVID response and recovery, the UN chief called for urgent action in six areas, beginning with closing the funding gap of the UN-backed vaccine initiative, COVAX. 

“To end the pandemic for good, we need equitable access to vaccines for everyone, everywhere”, he said. He also called for development assistance, to go primarily where it is most needed. 

Debt crisis solutions 

The debt crisis needed to be properly addressed, he said, including “debt suspension, relief, and liquidity”. 

“But we need to go beyond debt relief”, he continued, urging a strengthened “international debt architecture to end the deadly cycles of debt waves, global debt crises and lost decades”. 

Investing in a new social contract, based on solidarity in education, green jobs, social protection, and health systems was the UN chief’s fifth priority action, which he maintained was “the foundation for sustainable and inclusive development”. 

“This Forum must provide ambition and momentum, to finance a resilient, inclusive, equitable and sustainable future for all”, the Secretary-General concluded. 

90-year setback 

The President of the General Assembly, Volkan Bozkır, observed that the COVID-19 pandemic has “precipitated the single largest economic contraction in 90-years, devastating lives and livelihoods in the process”.  

Even with vaccines providing a light at the end of the tunnel, he said that “we are nonetheless faced with years of socioeconomic impact” ahead.  

However, the Assembly president said the 2021 FfD Forum was an opportunity “to lay the foundation for a proper recovery”. 

“Let us seize the opportunity of this crisis to effectively shift toward a more sustainable and resilient path, to demonstrate the strength and utility of the multilateral system, and to build a world that we will proudly pass down to future generations”, he added.

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