OECD Secretary-General

High Level Launch of the Development Co-operation Report, 8 February 2021


Remarks by Angel Gurría,

Secretary-General, OECD

Paris, 8 February 2021

Dear Ambassadors, Delegates,

I would like to start by thanking our distinguished panellists for joining us today. Their presence and engagement underscores not only the importance of the work on development co-operation, but also its urgency in the context of the current pandemic.

The COVID-19 crisis has caused global devastation, creating new fault lines and deepening those that divided us before. In addition to a health crisis that has claimed over 2 million lives, the necessary measures taken to contain the virus have led to devastating social and economic impacts, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. Due to COVID-19, over 100 million additional people have been pushed into extreme poverty during 2020, and 270 million people faced starvation. This suffering and loss will continue as long as this pandemic persists.

It is therefore very timely to launch today the annual Development Co-operation Report on “Learning from crises, building resilience”. The report outlines the enormity of the task confronting the development co-operation system and focuses on charting a path towards resilience.

It promotes an all-encompassing agenda to integrate cross-sectoral programmes, build country systems, increase development financing, step up action on global public goods and improve coordination within the development co-operation community.

Before COVID-19, we were already moving too slowly towards the Sustainable Development Goals, and now this crisis threatens to slow our progress even further. 14 trillion dollars has been mobilised so far for global stimulus, but the vast majority of that is for high income countries. This is 90 times larger than the annual investment in Official Development Assistance to support developing countries, which is 153 billion dollars. We cannot move beyond this pandemic, repair the global economy nor get back on track towards meeting sustainable development and climate goals unless we invest in a truly global recovery that leaves no one behind. We must use this crisis as an inflection point, from which to accelerate the pursuit of our collective goals.

In this context, the COVID-19 crisis has prompted two great tests of global solidarity.

The first test is defeating the pandemic. The scientific community performed an enormous feat, creating and manufacturing numerous effective vaccines in record time. Now, it is up to all of us – governments, the international community, scientists, and pharmaceutical companies – to come together to achieve the highest possible level of immunisation across the world, through equitable access to and delivery of vaccines.

While there has been progress to address this critical issue through co-ordinated efforts such as COVAX, a global risk sharing mechanism for pooled procurement and equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, this and many other collective response initiatives remain underfunded. The trend towards vaccine nationalism seriously undermines the potential of these collective efforts. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres underlined that the world’s leading economies have a special responsibility to enhance global solidarity to close the vaccine gap for the world’s poorest.

The global economy stands to lose as much as $9.2 trillion if governments fail to ensure developing economies access to COVID-19 vaccines, as much as half of which would fall on advanced economies. Securing our shared health and economic well-being by co-operating on widespread vaccination is one of the clearest examples of the mutual benefits that are only possible through solidarity.

The second test for global solidarity is a longer-term, but no less critical, challenge: prepare the world for future shocks. Looming global crises, chief among them being climate change, place an urgency to develop robust crisis response mechanisms and build global resilience to withstand, absorb and be transformed positively by shocks.

Notwithstanding the anguish suffered by people in advanced economies, recent months have seen strong public support for fairness and global public goods like health security and a stable climate. For example, a recent survey shows that 81% of respondents in advanced economies think that countries should act as part of a global community. This clear support gives decision-makers a mandate to address underlying vulnerabilities, and tackle inequalities. Through development co-operation, OECD Members and the international community are well-placed to drive the global resilience agenda.

Dear friends,

Only by acting together can we prevail. Advanced economies will not beat the virus and recover unless they help developing and least developed economies out of this crisis. This gives a new sense, a new meaning, to global solidarity, to multilateral co-operation, to development aid.

I very much hope that this report helps us turn this crisis into a new beginning for development co-operation. The OECD stands ready to help.

Thank you.

Further information

Link to Secretary-General's introductory video message

Link to Secretary-General's op-ed "We must not fail humanity's greates test"


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