"Let Us Work Together to Keep Advancing Towards Sustainable Development and Leave No One Behind"
23 October 2020
In an opinion piece published in various newspapers in Saudi Arabia, UN Resident Coordinator Nathalie Fustier commends Saudi Arabia’s leadership as the chair of the G20 in 2020, and highlights that cooperation and partnerships among all stakeholders are more crucial than ever.
This year, the United Nations is celebrating its 75th anniversary. Born out of the horrors of the Second World War, the United Nations, as a common endeavor for humanity, was established to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, and promote and protect human rights, advance progress and development across the world. Throughout its history, the UN saved millions of lives through humanitarian action, promoted freedom, shaped a rules-based international system, set up norms for international development and committed to providing children with the education they deserve. Our common organization is so indispensable in times of great disruption for the world and when international cooperation is much needed.
Once again, the international community is facing a big threat that is a human tragedy and jeopardize decades of progress and development. The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented global health crisis with severe economic and social impacts; the worst crisis since World War II. Will we emerge stronger and better equipped to work together? Or will distrust and isolation grow further?
Since March, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on our lives and continues to wreak havoc around the world. Over one million people have died, and 35 million have been reported infected. The real number is expected to be higher. The economic and social consequences are dire: negative growth is expected in 172 countries in 2020, extreme poverty is set to increase by 88 to 115 million people, equivalent job losses are expected to hover around 435 million people. The global growth contraction is compounded by a drop of 40 percent in foreign direct investment and up to 20 percent in trade. All these numbers only highlight the severity of a protracted crisis that will spare no country from its devastating impacts and will require a common determination to recover from. Health and socio-economic impacts are intertwined. The pandemic is not over until it is over, and there will be no economic recovery nor rebound without addressing and controlling the virus.
The World Health Organization is playing a key role in guiding a large-scale, coordinated and comprehensive health response, including a new global collaboration – the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator – to accelerate development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. Besides, all UN agencies are working together to safeguard lives and livelihoods of the most vulnerable through a wide-ranging effort to address the devastating socioeconomic, humanitarian and human rights aspects of the crisis.
Cooperation and partnerships among all stakeholders are more crucial than ever. That is why, along with the UN Secretary General, we commend Saudi Arabia leadership as the chair of the G20 in 2020. As the premier forum for international economic cooperation, the G20 brings together the most powerful countries and can take collective actions. At the outset of the pandemic, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia convened an Extraordinary Summit where G20 Leaders expressed their grave concern and “committed to do whatever it takes to overcome the pandemic”. While facilitating the consensus building among G20 countries on several critical issues (e.g. coordination of fiscal stimulus, mobilization of resources to address the immediate financing needs in global health, debt relief for the poorest countries to help them overcome the socio-economic impact the COVID-19 crisis, etc.) the G20 Saudi Presidency should spare no efforts to keep leading the global health emergency response and the global economic recovery. The upcoming Riyadh Summit of the G20 Leaders is held at a critical juncture and provides a unique opportunity to keep advancing towards an inclusive and sustainable future for all.
Stakes are so high, and global solidarity is not only a moral imperative, it is a practical necessity in an interconnected world. The United Nations and the G20 must strengthen their partnership, reaffirm the common understanding of a more sustainable and inclusive recovery and re-establish momentum toward achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that remains the blueprint to build back better: Nothing less than tackling the pandemic, promoting growth, advancing towards sustainable development for all, eradicating poverty, addressing the climate crisis and our environment depletion, cooperating for peace, and the many other pre-existing fragilities laid bare by the crisis.
The United Nations in Saudi Arabia is determined to contribute to this effort and to keep the dialogue open where we come together to discuss our priorities as a human family, and how we can build a better future for all.
On the occasion of the UN-Day on Saturday 24th October, we are convening a virtual conference under the theme “Recovering from the COVID-19 Crisis and Advancing Towards Sustainable Development in Saudi Arabia: Building on the UN-G20 Partnership” with the participation of distinguished speakers and panelists from Saudi Arabia and abroad, from the G20 and the UN community. In addition to exploring the Kingdom’s pandemic response efforts, participants will share best practices and knowledge on how to mobilize finance for sustainable development and promote health and human capital.