Briefing the Davos, Switzerland Forum via teleconference, the Secretary-General said “the world is emerging from the depths of a paralyzing economic crisis. But recovery remains fragile and uneven amid the lingering pandemic, persistent labour market challenges, ongoing supply-chain disruptions, rising inflation and looming debt traps, not to mention the geopolitical divide.”
He then urged all participants in the Forum to focus on three urgent areas. The first one, he explained, is to confront the pandemic with equity and fairness.
Guterres said, “if we fail to vaccinate every person, we give rise to new variants that spread across borders and bring daily life and economies to a grinding halt,” and stressed the need “to confront the pandemic with equity and fairness.”
He recalled that “we are nowhere near” achieving the World Health Organization (WHO) target of vaccinating 40 percent of people by the end of last year, and 70 percent by the middle of this year.
The second area in need of urgent action, the Secretary-General said, “is the global financial system,” noting that “health, education, decent work and social protection are not only human rights. They collectively represent a country’s economic engine.”
He said that in developing countries “this engine is stalled with dire consequences for people’s livelihoods, especially for women and youth.”
Guterres added that “the global financial system has failed them when they need it most. And global solidarity is missing in action.”
He asked for urgent debt restructuring, reforms of the long-term debt architecture, and an expansion of the Common Framework for Debt Treatment to middle-income countries.
The third, and last, area highlighted by the Secretary-General was climate action in developing countries.
The UN chief called on the world’s wealthiest economies to assist emerging economies that have a heavy dependence on coal to “accelerate the transition” to cleaner energy sources.
According to UN-backed research, the world needs a 45 per cent reduction in global emissions this decade, but they are set to increase by 14 per cent by 2030.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, for the second year in a row, the Forum scrapped its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, for a series of online plenaries and discussions over the year ahead, under the banner of The Davos Agenda.