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Upcoming Decisions Will Have Impacts for Decades, Deputy Secretary-General Warns, during General Assembly Special Session on COVID-19 Response

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks, as prepared for delivery to the General Assembly Special Session in Response to the COVID‑19 Pandemic, today:

I thank the President of the General Assembly for convening this special session and for ensuring that the General Assembly fulfils its role as the global town hall of our global village.  This is an important opportunity to hear from Member States, United Nations entities and a range of non‑governmental partners about the innovative ways they are working together to respond to the pandemic and build a strong recovery.

Today, United Nations principals will share updates on what we have achieved together with Member States, right across our different pillars of work and in very diverse country contexts; what is needed to ensure access to vaccines, tests and treatments for all; to meet ongoing humanitarian needs; and to support a recovery that will reignite the Decade of Action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals.

The UN’s immediate response to the pandemic focused on delivering support for Governments and people on the ground, together with extensive global advocacy and policy efforts.  Our strategy has three complementary tracks:  supporting the continued delivery of health services; responding to humanitarian needs; and supporting national Governments with their emergency socioeconomic response and recovery efforts.  Through these three complementary tracks, the United Nations supported lives and livelihoods, keeping vital services accessible, kept households afloat, businesses solvent and supply chains functioning while placing human rights at the forefront.

So far, these efforts have helped 71 countries implement over 300 social protection policies; supported the provision of water, sanitation and hygiene supplies to 25 million people; and helped more than 100,000 companies stay afloat.  This was made possible through the enabling environment created by Governments and commitment of our staff; the support we received from our partners; and the new arrangements in place in a strengthened United Nations development system.  I commend everyone involved.

But we are keenly aware that our response must go further.  As the Secretary‑General said, it is time to reset.  The decisions taken over the next 12 months will have impacts for decades to come.  It is essential that they be geared towards reducing poverty and inequality; realizing the rights of all women and girls; and transitioning to a green economy that provides decent work for all.

This will not be easy, but the United Nations stands ready to lend its full support to your efforts, including in the following five key areas:

First, vaccination is an important step in our global journey to recovery.  We are doing everything possible to mobilize the $28 billion needed for the ACT‑Accelerator and its COVAX Facility.  And our country teams are ready to support the immediate roll‑out of available vaccines and treatments once resources are met.

Second, building off the analysis and preparations under the UN Socio‑Economic Framework and the long‑awaited finance response to stimulus packages, United Nations country teams are standing by to support Governments in operationalizing inclusive and sustainable recovery plans.

Third, in the next few months, we will push for strong action to repair our planet with updated nationally determined contributions on climate and a new Global Biodiversity Framework in Kunming.

Fourth, we are bringing stakeholders together in 2021 to seek solutions in areas from food systems to education, gender equality to oceans, energy to digital connectivity and transport.

Finally, we will strengthen our efforts to mobilize greater resources for countries and people in greatest need, based on the policy options that emerged from the Initiative on Financing for Development in the Era of COVID‑19 and Beyond.  With your support, we will find solutions to increase fiscal space, expand social protection, and deliver on the climate finance and Addis Ababa Action Agenda commitments.

This special session comes at a critical moment.  If we make the right decisions now, we can meet humanitarian needs, reset development pathways, accelerate implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and secure a life of dignity and opportunity for all, on a safe and healthy planet.  That is the task ahead of us in 2021.

We look forward to working with you all to seize this opportunity to deliver on our promises for people, for planet.

For information media. Not an official record.