New approaches vital as world grappling with worst recession

Senior UN officials, Nobel laureates and eminent academic experts gathered virtually on Wednesday for the launching of a new UN report and reached a consensus that new approaches must be taken while the world is grappling with the worst recession in decades due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Xinhua reports.

Titled Recover Better: Economic and Social Challenges and Opportunities, the report analyzed economic trends critical to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and recovery from COVID-19.

"Parallel threats linked to health, economic and social crises have crippled countries and left us at a standstill," said Liu Zhenmin, UN Undersecretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, as he presented the new report by the High-Level Advisory Board on Economic and Social Affairs.

Among the recommendations that the report proposes is a greater focus on the environment, he said, as well as promotion of research and development, investment in infrastructure and education, and improvement in economic equality.

"Overcoming the crisis and getting back on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals will require a strengthened multilateralism," he said, adding that COVID-19 has laid bare how much leadership, foresight and collaboration among all governments and stakeholders, matter.

In a video message, UN deputy chief Amina Mohammed said as many as 100 million people are expected to be pushed back into extreme poverty in 2020, the first rise in global poverty since 1998.

The 2030 Agenda remains the agreed framework for recovering in ways that accelerate progress on climate change, poverty and gender inequality, and address the fragilities exposed or exacerbated by the pandemic. "We must all do more," she added.

"There is no trade-off between economic efficiency and equality," said Alicia Barcena, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), who contributed a chapter on the topic.

During a panel on the theme, "Ensuring a sustainable recovery through more inclusive and strengthened multilateralism," Barcena underscored the urgent need for structural change.

Between 2000 and 2010, 60 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean moved out of poverty. Now, 45 million risk being pulled back in.

"The market is not going to equalize society. We need a new social and political compact altogether," she said, pointing out that Costa Rica, Uruguay and Cuba - societies that have high trust in government - have fared better during the pandemic than others.

Ricardo Lagos, former President of Chile, suggested the creation of an internationally binding agreement on pandemics, forged under the auspices of the World Health Organization (WHO).