The chairs describe the conference as “the first truly global discussion on managing the socio-economic and financial impacts of COVID-19".
UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed briefed participants on the third part of the UN's three-fold emergency response, which will give the UN development system an operational landing in its 131 countries around the world.
UNGA President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande stressed that developing countries will be hit the hardest, even if they do not experience an outbreak of COVID-19, and called for actions to prevent mass unemployment.
The Group of Friends of Financing the SDGs held a virtual conference with over 300 participants, chaired by the foreign ministers of Canada and Jamaica. During the conference, the UN Deputy Secretary-General previewed the UN’s forthcoming operational framework for addressing the socioeconomic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and working to “build back better.”
The virtual meeting, which took place on 10 April 2020, was chaired by François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, and Kamina Johnson Smith, Jamaica’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade. In a joint statement from the two chairs, they describe the conference as “the first truly global discussion on managing the socio-economic and financial impacts of COVID-19.”
Participants included ambassadors from across the UN membership and high-level representatives from the UN, the Group of 20 (G20), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank Group, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Developing countries will be hit the hardest, even if they do not experience an outbreak of COVID-19.
The Chairs’ statement notes that many countries face particular vulnerabilities including:
- reliance on imported food, curtailed transportation and logistics hubs;
- loss of revenue and high levels of indebtedness; and
- reliance on scarce foreign currency reserves to procure essential medical supplies;
They underline the urgency of maintaining global supply chains and remittance flows, and the importance of supporting countries’ private sectors to provide jobs and livelihoods. According to the chairs, the UN, G20, IMF, World Bank Group, OECD and individual countries committed to coordinate their actions as they respond to the crisis.
UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed briefed participants on the third part of the UN’s three-fold emergency response, which is composed of health, humanitarian, and socioeconomic responses. With the UN development system present in 131 countries, Mohammed said a framework for the entire system to be launched during the week of 13 April would build on the Secretary‑General’s ‘Shared Responsibility and Global Solidarity’ report in responding to the socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19. She said the framework “provides us an operational landing” not only to respond to the crisis but to try to build back better from it. She reported that the framework includes several workstreams and an “integrated support package” to protect the needs and rights of people struggling due to the pandemic, with particular focus on the most vulnerable countries.
Mohammed also said the UN is looking to “repurpose” a significant proportion of its USD 17.8 billion portfolio towards COVID-19‑related needs, and that this includes the Joint SDG Fund as well as the Spotlight Initiative fund of the UN and EU to address violence against women and girls. She observed that women are bearing the brunt of the pandemic impacts, “whether we speak to losing our incomes, mental health or gender-based violence; this is a reality.”
UNGA President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande stressed that developing countries will be hit the hardest, even if they do not experience an outbreak of COVID-19, and called for actions to prevent mass unemployment. He added, that despite dramatic changes in the environment in which we are operating, “our targets remain the same” – to achieve the 2030 Agenda in line with the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.
The Group of Friends of SDG Financing led by Canada and Jamaica is a platform to promote solution-oriented ideas for unlocking finance for development.