Closing remarks by Angel Gurría
10 September 2020 - Paris, France
(As prepared for delivery)
President José Ramos-Horta, First lady Rula Ghani, honorary Laureates and Leaders,
It is a pleasure to address the Fair Share for Children Summit 2020. As we have heard today, the economic and social consequences of COVID-19 are expected to affect children severely. I very much share the concern that has been expressed by Laureates and Leaders about this grave challenge. From the outset, the OECD has been clear that in managing the crisis, priority must be given to protecting lives and the well-being of the most vulnerable – this includes children.
The pandemic is harming the health, social and material well-being of all children worldwide and the most vulnerable children are suffering the most. While saving lives is a priority during a pandemic, school closures, social distancing and confinement widen inequalities between children. Such measures increase the risk of poor nutrition, exposure to violence at home, higher anxiety and stress, and reduced access to vital family and care services.
The economic downturn is expected to increase child poverty, leading to a greater number of children not returning to school. These children are at real risk of being drawn into child labour.
A joint report published with the ILO, IOM and UNICEF in 2019, on Ending Child Labour, Forced Labour and Human Trafficking in the Global Supply Chain, provided the first global estimates of the extent of children working in global supply chains. The numbers are shocking: from 12% in Sub-Saharan Africa, to 26% in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia . We cannot risk seeing these numbers increase even further.
Over the next few years, the OECD will make child well-being a priority in its work. We recognise the higher level of investment and better policy making required for managing the impact of this crisis on children. We therefore call on all countries to ensure that children get their fair share of the global response to the pandemic.
As we tackle the crisis together, you can count on the OECD to continue supporting countries to put children at the centre of their agendas. Thank you.