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Covid-19 hampers progress towards sustainable development -- UN chief

KUWAIT, July 6 (KUNA) -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic reversed decades of progress on poverty and hunger, and placed "even greater obstacles on the pathway to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals." In a video message to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Integration Segment in New York on Monday, he said, "Six months since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are only beginning to perceive the severity of its impacts on lives and livelihoods around the world." "The pandemic is laying bare widespread and pervasive structural inequalities, from inadequate health infrastructure to gaps in social protection that are now a matter of life and death for so many.
"Those worst affected are those who were already vulnerable - people living in poverty, people with disabilities, other marginalized groups and women and children," Guterres regretted.
On the UN response, he said the organization has mobilized on all fronts to protect lives and ease the economic fallout, starting with the World Health Organization's (WHO) coordination of the health response.
"I am proud of our achievements to date, from shipping medical goods and personal protective equipment to more than 130 countries, to helping more than 150 million children access education," he pointed out.
"We have also called for massive global support for the most vulnerable people and countries; supported research and development for a people's vaccine that is affordable and accessible to all; and convened the biggest gathering of world leaders since the start of the pandemic, to sharpen and accelerate global action to support countries in the developing world.
"Looking forward, we are leading efforts towards more resilient, inclusive and sustainable economies and societies.
"Returning to the frameworks and systems that gave rise to this crisis is unthinkable. These unprecedented times call for deep reflection and strong action," the Secretary General stressed.
"In the face of fragility, leaders of all kinds need to be humble, and to recognize the vital importance of unity and solidarity, both within and beyond the United Nations family.
"The new structures and capacities we established as part of the reform of the United Nations development system are strengthening our coordination and our ability to act quickly and with greater unity and impact.
"We must work together more closely than ever before, in a networked, inclusive and effective multilateralism that links the whole United Nations system with regional organizations, international financial institutions, civil society, businesses, cities, regions and others," he went on.
He reiterated the call for governments, civil society, the private sector and development partners "to accelerate coordinated global action to ensure that we recover better from this crisis and deliver together on the promise of the 2030 Agenda." (end) asf.gb