Opening the session, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), Liu Zhenminargued that the pandemic had highlighted the critical role of social policy.
” COVID-19 The crisis has exacerbated inequalities and multiple forms of deprivation,” Mr. Zhenmin said, recalling that many countries have responded by imposing emergency measures.
“One of the key lessons is the importance of universal access to social protection to improve economic and food security in times of crisis,” he said.
He said that from December 2020 to May 2021, total social protection spending rose nearly 270 percent to $2.9 trillion.
The Under-Secretary-General believes that many of these measures must be made permanent in order to get back on track Agenda 2030.
According to the latest UN data, the world is not on track to achieve the fundamental Sustainable Development Goal (SDG). eradication of extreme poverty.
Without decisive action, the number of people living in extreme poverty is expected to reach 600 million.or 7 percent of the world’s population by 2030.
As societies around the world begin to move towards recovery, Mr. Zhenmin pointed out four priorities.
First, investing in people: health care, education and affordable housing as essential elements of restoring livelihoods.
Second, address the multiple causes of poverty, hunger and inequality by creating decent work and other income-generating opportunities, he said.
Third, create universal social protection systems that are adequate, comprehensive and sustainable.
And finally, make food systems more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable.
President of the General Assembly, Abdullah Shahidsaid the meeting should discuss the end of the pandemic, framed by some key questions.
“What does our world look like in the post-COVID era? What lessons have we learned from our responses?”, he asked.
Noting that social protection measures had been greatly expanded, he reminded the meeting participants that their implementation had been highly uneven, especially between developed and developing countries.
Despite these inequalities, he believes “the efforts made demonstrate that social safety nets work and can have a huge impact on the lives and livelihoods of the people we serve.”
A turning point
Mr. Shahid also urged Member States to view the pandemic as both a crisis and an opportunity.
“It requires us to be bold and ambitious in our intentions and generous in our actions.“, he explained.
According to him, there are four important areas of action: invest and share technology, resources and capacities; give priority to universal access to basic services and infrastructure; invest in training and education; and work quickly to close the gaps that have been discovered.
Noting that history is full of turning points, he asked that efforts be made to ensure that history remembers the pandemic as another moment for a big turn.
“This is the moment when humanity embraced a better future, switched to sustainability, abandoned the boring excuses and embarked on a path that empowered all people, protected our planet, ensured prosperity and left hope for a new generation,” he concluded.