UN chief seeks G20 economies for a Global vaccine and climate action plan

By Arya M Nair, Official Reporter
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Global Vaccination Plan
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UN Secretary-General Mr. Antonio Guterres has encouraged the world’s most leading economies to head a worldwide COVID-19 immunization strategy, expand debt relief to developing countries affected by the pandemic, and raise climate action funding.

“To restore trust in multilateralism, we need to deliver on vaccines, economic recovery and climate finance. With your leadership and political will, we can do it,” Mr. Guterres said in a video message to the G20 finance ministers meeting in Venice, Italy.

The Secretary-General also warned the threat caused by the global vaccine gap and the need for at least eleven billion doses to vaccinate 70 percent of the world to end the pandemic. 

The UN Secretary-General reaffirmed his appeal for a Global Vaccine Plan that will double vaccine production and ensure equitable dose distribution via the COVAX solidarity mechanism.

Finance Ministers and Central Bankers were also urged to adopt a new $50 billion investment roadmap, launched last month and supported by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), aimed at ending the pandemic and accelerating the recovery process.

The Secretary-General advised the G20 to redirect unused Special Drawing Rights, a type of foreign reserve asset designed by the IMF, to the Fund’s new resilience and sustainability strategy for developing countries, as several are “on the verge of debt default.”

As the current UN climate change conference, known as COP26, approaches, the UN chief emphasized the need for action to reduce emissions as the world struggles to keep global temperature rise to the 1.5-degree target of the Paris Agreement.

“If COP26 in Glasgow is to be a turning point, we need all G20 countries to commit to achieve net-zero by mid-century, and to present Nationally Determined Contributions aiming at a cut in global emissions by 45 percent by 2030, compared to 2010 levels,” Mr. Guterres said.

The Secretary-General recalled wealthy countries’ pledge more than a decade ago to mobilize $100 billion per year for climate mitigation and adaptation in developing countries. This agreement, however, has not been maintained.

According to the UN, developing countries also require assistance in making the shift from fossil fuels like coal and oil to renewable energy sources. While development banks’ assistance will be critical in this area, large-scale private finance is now accessible through a worldwide alliance of more than 160 financial firms dedicated to the net-zero target.

Related: Lack of COVID-19 vaccine in poorer countries marks global community’s failure; WHO