Press Conference by Secretary-General prior to G20 Summit

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20-Nov-2020 00:20:52
Press Conference by António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, on his participation in this weekend’s G20 Summit.

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When he addresses leaders of the world’s richest countries at the G20 summit on Saturday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres will deliver a simple message on the COVID-19 pandemic: “We need solidarity and cooperation. And we need concrete action now — especially for the most vulnerable.”

Speaking in New York on the eve of the virtual meeting, the UN chief told reporters that the world must ensure recovery from the crisis will be inclusive, sustainable and in line with global climate goals.

“The recent breakthroughs on COVID-19 vaccines offer a ray of hope. But that ray of hope needs to reach everyone. That means ensuring that vaccines are treated as a global public good - a people’s vaccine accessible and affordable to everyone, everywhere,” he said.

“This is not a ‘do-good’ exercise. It is the only way to stop the pandemic dead in its tracks. Solidarity is indeed survival.”

The leaders participating in the G20 summit, hosted online this year by Saudi Arabia, collectively represent around 80 per cent of the world’s economic output and 75 per cent of international trade, according to the website for the event.

The Secretary-General will press them to support global mechanisms striving to make any COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics affordable and accessible to anyone, anywhere, who needs them.

Although countries have so far invested $10 billion in the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator and its vaccine pillar, the COVAX Facility, they are still underfunded.

Some $28 billion more is needed, including $4.2 billion before the end of the year, according to Mr. Guterres,

“This funding is critical for mass manufacturing, procurement and delivery of new COVID-19 vaccines and tools around the world”, he said. “G20 countries have the resources.”

He added that the UN is also working to combat damaging vaccine myths, conspiracies and other misinformation on social media, in efforts to strengthen public trust and save lives.

With the pandemic putting developing countries “on the precipice of financial ruin and escalating poverty, hunger and untold suffering”, the Secretary-General will again appeal for stepped-up support from the G20.

He will call for the bloc to increase financial resources available to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), including through a new allocation of Special Drawing Rights, which are a type of supplementary reserve asset that can boost liquidity during crises.

The G20 also has suspended debt service payments from more than 70 of the world’s poorest countries through June 2021, among other welcoming measures. However, the UN chief wants leaders to do more.

“I am pushing for a further extension through the end of 2021 and, critically, to expand the scope of the initiatives to all developing and middle-income countries in need”, he said.

“And we need to build a global architecture to enhance debt transparency and sustainability. A domino effect of bankruptcies could devastate the global economy. We cannot let the COVID pandemic lead to a debt pandemic.”

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