Published: 09:55, April 1, 2020 | Updated: 05:30, June 6, 2023
UN calls for response to socio-economic impacts of COVID-19
By Xinhua

In this Feb 24, 2020 photo, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (left) Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (right) arrive to attend an update on the situation regarding the COVID-19 in the SHOC room (Strategic health operations centre) at the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva. (SALVATORE DI NOLFI / POOL / AFP)

UNITED NATIONS - The United Nations on Tuesday launched a report on the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, calling for global solidarity to respond to the impacts of COVID-19, which have caused and will cause tremendous losses to the human society.

The new coronavirus disease is attacking societies at their core, claiming lives and people's livelihoods. The potential longer-term effects on the global economy and those of individual countries are dire.

Antonio Guterres, UN secretary-general

The report describes the speed and scale of the outbreak, the severity of cases, and the societal and economic disruption of COVID-19.

"The new coronavirus disease is attacking societies at their core, claiming lives and people's livelihoods. The potential longer-term effects on the global economy and those of individual countries are dire," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at the virtual press launch of the report: Shared responsibility, global solidarity: Responding to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19.

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"COVID-19 is the greatest test that we have faced together since the formation of the United Nations," said Guterres. "This human crisis demands coordinated, decisive, inclusive and innovative policy action from the world's leading economies - and maximum financial and technical support for the poorest and most vulnerable people and countries."

The report comes after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has announced that the world has entered into a recession as bad or worse than that in 2009. The report calls for a large-scale, coordinated and comprehensive multilateral response amounting to at least 10 percent of global gross domestic product.

As of 1:00 pm Eastern Time on Tuesday, there were more than 820,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases across the world, with over 40,000 deaths, according to the data from Johns Hopkins University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

The UN system and its global network of regional, sub-regional and country offices working for peace, human rights, sustainable development and humanitarian action, will support all governments and partners through the response and recovery, said the UN chief.

To that end, the secretary-general has established a dedicated COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund to support efforts in low- and middle-income countries. Its approach underpins the reformed United Nations with a coordinated multi-agency, multi-sectoral response for priority national and local actions address to the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

"It will count on country leadership of Resident Coordinators and UN Country Teams in swiftly supporting and enabling governments in this crisis, and recovery," Guterres said.

According to the report, the shared responsibility and global solidarity roadmap calls for: suppressing the transmission of the virus to control the pandemic; safeguarding people's lives and their livelihoods and learning from this human crisis to build back better.

The report warns that "there is no time to lose in mounting the most robust and cooperative health response the world has ever seen." The strongest support must be provided to the "multilateral effort" to suppress transmission and stop the pandemic, led by the World Health Organization.

At the same time there is great need for scientific collaboration in the search for "vaccine and effective therapeutics." This must be matched with assurances of universal access to vaccines and treatment.

Throughout the report, a "people-centered approach" is promoted that calls for engaging communities affected by COVID-19, respect for human rights and inclusion, gender equality and dignity for all.

Recognizing that epidemics can expose and exacerbate existing inequalities in society, the roadmap shows it will be crucial to "cushion the knock-on effects on people's lives, their livelihoods and the economy."

The report highlights examples of actions countries could take, such as direct provision of resources to support workers and households, provision of health and unemployment insurance, scaling-up of social protection, and support to businesses to prevent bankruptcies and job loss.

The report strongly recognizes that women and girls must have a face in the response; and opportunities for young people, seriously affected, need to be preserved.

No single country or entity will win alone against the pandemic, the report says. "A successful response and recovery will require international cooperation and partnerships at every level - governments taking action in lock step with communities; private sector engagement to find pathways out of this crisis. Partnerships based on solidarity will be the cornerstone for progress."

"With the right actions, the COVID-19 pandemic can mark the beginning of a new type of global and societal cooperation," the report says.

The report urges to adopt DO NO HARM trade policies, preserve connectivity, and ensure regional monetary-fiscal coordination; engage with private financial sector to support businesses; address structural challenges and strengthen normative frameworks to deal with transboundary risks.

The report cites the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates as saying that "the world could lose between 5 million and 25 million jobs."

The report also urges to undertake fiscal stimulus and support for the most vulnerable, protect human rights and focus on inclusion, support to small and medium sized enterprises, support decent work, support education and prioritize social cohesion measures.

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"We can go back to the world as it was before or deal decisively with those issues that make us all unnecessarily vulnerable to crises," the UN chief said at the virtual launch.

"Our roadmap is the 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals," the secretary-general noted.

"The recovery from the COVID-19 crisis must lead to a different economy," said Guterres.