President Paul Kagame says as the world repositions itself in pursuing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), whose progress and achievement was set back by the New Coronavirus pandemic, the plight of all people should not be forgotten.
President Kagame made the remarks on Tuesday during the Virtual Leaders Meeting on SDG Financing which brought together leaders from governments and international organizations to discuss specific actions to help countries and people address the devastating financial and socioeconomic impacts caused by COVID-19.
The Head of State said that SDGs are the world’s yardstick for much needed progress on human development, thanking the United Nations Secretary General António Guterres, together with the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, and the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness, for convening the meeting.
“The 2030 Agenda may be off-track, but that does not mean we have to accept a smaller future. On the contrary, we can build back better and stronger by embarking on new and innovative approaches suited to the challenges ahead. That means adopting an implementation mindset and not doing business as usual,”
“Rwanda was pleased to co-lead the Discussion Group on Recovering Better for Sustainability, together with the European Union, Fiji, and the United Kingdom,” President Kagame said.
He said that Africa’s recommendations focus on four key strategies in close alignment with both the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement, the first one being building resilient national health systems with Universal Health Coverage at the centre.
“Second, double down on the digitalisation of our economies and education systems by investing in new technologies and high-speed internet,”
“Third, orient action toward inclusion and fairness, especially for women and young people. Fourth, leave no one behind by ensuring adequate social and financial protection for the most vulnerable amongst us,” President Kagame said.
He pointed out that the financial system can be a force multiplier, but there is a need to strengthen adherence to global standards and norms by reporting data in a transparent and comparable manner.
“The menu of policy options being presented today gives each country the tools to prevail in its unique context. We cannot allow the Sustainable Development Goals to become a victim of the COVID-19 pandemic or any other unexpected shock. Let’s stay focused.
The meeting was convened to reflect the work done over the last five months by finance ministries, the UN and other international organisations and some of the world’s leading economists to find the policy options and solutions that can advance comprehensive multilateral response to the devastating social and economic impacts of COVID-19.
Of the US $11 trillion that has been spent globally to respond to the financial impacts of the pandemic so far, 88% has been disbursed by high-income countries, compared to only 2.5% by emerging and developing economies.
The COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed one million lives and resulted in more than 32 million confirmed cases, has gone beyond a health and humanitarian crisis to also become an unprecedented global development emergency.
The pandemic is expected to drive close to 100 million to extreme poverty, the first such increase since 1998. An estimated additional 265 million people could face acute food shortages by the end of 2020.
According to the UN, by the end of this year, 12,000 people could die from COVID-19 related hunger. The International Labour Organization estimates the equivalent of 500 million jobs have been lost so far this year. This has widened economic inequalities, disproportionately impacting developing countries and vulnerable groups.
Even for developing countries that have not been directly affected by the virus, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the financial distress as export, tourism and remittance receipts have all dried up, threatening their ability to service existing debt payments.
The UN Secretary-General said the Meeting on Financing for Development in the Era of COVID19 and Beyond will bring world leaders together to find solutions to the financial crisis.