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

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (C, front) speaks at the 46th Annual Meeting of Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the Group of 77 and China at the UN headquarters in New York on Sept. 23, 2022. (Xinhua/Wang Ying)

New York, US | Xinhua | 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 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 an enhanced 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. ■

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