As the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis continues to wreak havoc across the world – with the most vulnerable suffering the most – the UN chief said on Tuesday that the task of eradicating poverty and achieving the development goals “has never been more challenging, more urgent and more necessary”.
“Our objective remains clear: to help countries navigate and accelerate progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), fully respecting the principle of national ownership”, Secretary-General António Guterres said, opening the first-ever virtual session of the Economic and Social Council’s (ECOSOC) Operational Activities for Development Segment.
While a “renewed spirit of collaboration” and UN reforms have “put us on the right footing”, he flagged that the coronavirus pandemic has “raised the bar even higher”.
“We now have a triple imperative”, the UN chief maintained, namely responding urgently to help stem the transmission and impact of the pandemic; to help people safeguard development gains and protect lives, working with partners to ensure that all recovery efforts follow the 2030 Agenda, and advance the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
In 2018, the Organization reformed its development system, including by making UN Country Teams – under the independent leadership of Resident Coordinators, or RCs – better adapted to local needs.
In confronting this triple challenge, Mr. Guterres outlined that RCs are working with the World Health Organization (WHO) as they lead the health response; the UN Development Programme (UNDP) on socio-economic support involving all Country Team members; and Regional Economic Commissions on debt, trade and other macroeconomic dimensions.
Noting the achievement of gender parity along with a significant improvement in geographic diversity, he maintained that they are being recognized as “the empowered and impartial leader of the UN development system at country level”