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Deputy Secretary-General Calls for New Global Deal Which Delivers on Public Goods from Environment to Public Health, in Social Development Commission Remarks

Following is the text of UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s video remarks to the sixtieth session of Commission for Social Development, in New York today:

Your Excellency Ambassador María del Carmen Squeff, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, the world is facing multiple, interconnected challenges, from widening inequality to climate change, environmental degradation, conflict and heightened insecurity.

In addition to the millions of lives lost, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated inequality and deprivation on multiple fronts.  Some 85 million more people have been pushed into poverty, which stands at the highest level for a generation.  At the same time, some of the richest people in the world saw their wealth double in the past two years.

Globally, the pandemic has worsened hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition, and led to an increase in gender-based violence, child abuse, child marriage and child labour.  It has had a disproportionate impact on the marginalized and isolated, particularly women, girls and those in the informal economy.

The recovery has been uneven.  Governments in developed countries were able to respond quickly, with unprecedented packages of support.  But, many developing countries lacked the resources, and the vaccines, to launch such a response.  They have been left to fend for themselves.  As we head into the third year of this pandemic, new challenges — including rising inflation and new variants — could derail any progress made.

Faced with fiscal deficits and looming debt burdens, many Governments will have to choose between servicing their debts and serving their people.  Both options — cutting essential spending on social services, or defaulting on debt repayments — will have serious implications for their future development prospects, and indeed, for global implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

As the Secretary-General has said:  “Without decisive action, business as usual could result in a breakdown of the global order.”  Excellencies, we have a huge task ahead of us.  One that demands global solidarity and enhanced multilateralism.  To rescue the Sustainable Development Goals, developing countries must be supported so that they can invest in a strong recovery from the pandemic.

First, we need a new global deal that delivers on global public goods from the environment to public health, and enables developing countries to focus their resources on sustainable, inclusive development.  This must include a complete overhaul of the global financial system, and the creation of an operational debt relief and restructuring framework.

Second, we must change the premise on which investment decisions are made, so that they are in the best interest of humanity, not money markets.  Financial metrics must go beyond gross domestic product (GDP) to include the care economy and account for climate risks and vulnerability.

Third, we need a human-centred recovery that addresses inequality, poverty and hunger and enhances resilience, sustainable livelihoods, and the health and well-being of all.  We need to prepare for a future of renewable energy and digital technology.  Social policies are at the heart of such strategies.

As the Secretary-General outlined in his report on Our Common Agenda, we need to renew the social contract so that everyone, everywhere has access to food, shelter, health care, education and opportunities.

As part of these efforts, the new Global Accelerator on Jobs and Social Protection aims to reinvigorate action on decent work and economic growth, by providing social protection for the 4 billion people without it, and by creating 400 million decent new jobs in the green, care and digital economies.

The proposed World Social Summit in 2025 would be an opportunity to share successes and lessons learned, coordinate action and create moment for the Sustainable Development Goals at a global scale.

But, efforts are needed now, to accelerate these and other efforts, and re‑energize progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Today’s deliberations can serve as a springboard to chart the way towards a greener, more inclusive and more resilient future.  I count on this Commission to do everything in its power to ensure that the United Nations can collectively fulfil its commitment to leave no one behind.

For information media. Not an official record.