COVID-19, unequal recovery cost 3 years’ worth of development progress: UN chief

THE COVID-19 pandemic and an unequal recovery have cost the world three years of development progress, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Friday at the 46th Annual Meeting of Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the Group of 77 and China.

Guterres said that advanc­ing the Sustainable Development Goals “has been his focus dur­ing high-level week” when world leaders converge in New York to discuss solutions to the press­ing challenges facing the global community.

He stressed that the Ukraine crisis “has added further turmoil” to supply chains, and energy and food markets, “creating an un­precedented cost-of-living crisis” affecting up to 1.7 billion people around the world.

Rescuing the Sustainable De­velopment Goals

“Rescuing the Sustainable Development Goals requires governments to invest heavily in their people and the systems that support them: health, education, social protection, housing and de­cent work,” Guterres said.

It also requires “major tran­sitions” in renewable energy, food systems and digital connectivity, he added.

Noting that at every turn, de­veloping countries are “blocked in their efforts to invest in recovery and development,” Guterres said that as “a moral and practical imperative,” this must change.

The secretary-general, there­fore, called for “urgent action on debt to increase liquidity and ease the pressure on developing countries.”

He underscored that “we need an increase in concession­al funding from multilateral de­velopment banks and reform a morally bankrupt global financial system.”

“We need to balance the scales between developed and developing countries, and create a new global financial system that benefits all,” said the UN chief.

He also called for “urgent ac­tion” on climate, noting that he “will never forget the devastation” he witnessed in Pakistan that he “could not imagine before.”

The secretary-general urged developed countries to deliver on their promises and support devel­oping countries “as they adapt to worsening climate impacts.”

He went on to say that they must present credible roadmaps to meet their 100-billion-USD-per-year pledge, and double adapta­tion finance to 40 billion dollars annually as a first step “as the needs are estimated at 300-billion dollars per year for adaptation in the developing world.”

Group of 77 and China at the United Nations is a coalition of 134 developing countries, designed to promote its members’ collective economic interests and create anenhanced joint negotiating capac­ity in the United Nations. There were 77 founding members of the organization headquartered in Geneva, but it has since expanded to 134 member countries. Paki­stan currently holds the chair­manship.