The economic crisis that followed the pandemic was the worst in a century. This was announced by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, speaking on Monday via video link at the high-level event "Davos Agenda".
"More than 2 million people have died, and we are in the worst economic crisis in about 100 years," he stated.
According to Johns Hopkins University, as of January 25, more than 99.3 million cases of coronavirus were detected worldwide. 54.8 million people recovered, more than 2.13 million people died.
At the same time, Guterres expressed confidence that in 2021 the world "has a unique opportunity to move from fragility to resilience in the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic." For this, according to the Secretary General, it is necessary that “governments, international organizations, the private sector and civil society work together.”
"Our common direction should be the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals," he said. In this regard, the UN head also recalled his initiative for a New Social Contract and a New Global Compact, which "will create equal opportunities for all while ensuring universal rights and freedoms."
Unprecedented and less and less predictable extreme natural events create an emergency on a global scale, the UN head stressed. Over the past decade, weather and climate disasters have killed 410,000 people, most of them in poor countries. At the same time, according to the Global Adaptation Commission, if you know about an impending hurricane or extreme heat in just 24 hours, you can reduce the damage from them by 30 percent.
This is why the Secretary-General is calling for immediate attention to adaptation and resilience to natural disasters and their inclusion in recovery plans from the COVID-19 pandemic. And this applies not only to developed countries - we need to help low- and middle-income countries “restart” their economies and embark on the path of sustainable development.
Antonio Guterres has identified five priorities. First, in his opinion, donor states, as well as development banks, should provide more predictable financial support. Annual expenditures on adaptation and resilience to extreme climate change in developing countries are estimated at $ 70 billion, and by 2030 and 2050 these figures will grow, respectively, to 140-300 billion and 280-500 billion. Therefore, the head of the UN proposes to allocate for adaptation and the sustainability of half of the financial assistance provided by donors and banks to combat climate change. Guterres recalled that by signing the Paris Agreement, rich countries pledged to allocate $ 100 billion a year to poor countries to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
Secondly, in any budgets and investments it is necessary to include climate risks - this is especially true for investments in infrastructure.
The Secretary General also called for a wider use of existing and development of new financial instruments that would create incentives for investors. Every dollar invested in infrastructure resilience can save six dollars, he said.
Another area is debt relief and access to finance for countries most vulnerable to climate change. So far, the share of least developed countries and small island states among recipients of climate finance is 14 percent and 2 percent, respectively. But it is they, on the one hand, who suffer more than others from the effects of climate change, and on the other hand, they have much fewer resources to cope with them.
The Secretary-General also called for support for regional initiatives aimed at adapting to new realities, such as “debt-for-adaptation” for the island states of the Caribbean or the Pacific.
"We have at our disposal all the tools, knowledge and capabilities necessary to act" larger, faster and more efficiently "in the field of adaptation to climate change," - said the UN head and called on the summit participants to "make a breakthrough" and together move towards a sustainable and equitable future.
This summit is the first meeting of world leaders dedicated to the climatic aspects of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Its participants are expected to adopt a comprehensive Adaptation Agenda for the next decade.