World, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

ILO, WHO chiefs welcome G20 steps on COVID-19 fight

Heads of two UN bodies welcome G20 commitment as first step in fighting coronavirus crisis

Peter Kenny   | 27.03.2020
ILO, WHO chiefs welcome G20 steps on COVID-19 fight


The heads of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday welcomed G20 leaders’ commitment as a “first step” to the challenge created by the novel coronavirus pandemic. 

ILO Director-General Guy Ryder and his WHO counterpart Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus both issued statements after the G20 meeting saying the G20 was formulating a truly global response to the challenges created by the coronavirus.

“The G20’s strong and clear commitment to do whatever it takes to overcome the intertwined health, social and economic impacts of the pandemic is a very welcome first step,” said Ryder.

“Their decision to spare no efforts to protect people, jobs, incomes and enterprises is extremely important.”

The ILO’s first assessment of the outbreak’s effect on the global world of work published on March 18 found that it could increase global unemployment by almost 25 million and push millions of people into underemployment and working poverty.

Ryder noted that now is a time for global solidarity, especially with the most vulnerable and with the emerging and developing world.

“We must also offer our full support to the health workers who are in the front lines of the medical response,” he said.

Tedros said earlier that he welcomed G20 leaders‘ commitment “to do whatever it takes to overcome the pandemic” to protect lives and livelihoods as well as restore confidence and shore up stability currently threatened in trade and other sectors.

He said the G20 committed to support and further strengthen the WHO’s mandate in coordinating the response and called for full funding of the WHO‘s Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan.

When he addressed the virtual G20 meeting earlier, Tedros exhorted them “to ignite a global movement to ensure this never happens again.”

He told journalists Monday that measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus could unwittingly exacerbate shortages of essential protective gear and he would ask G20 leaders to increase production and avoid export bans.

Leaders of the Group of 20 major economies on Thursday reiterated their commitment to do "whatever it takes" to tackle the novel coronavirus outbreak.

"Combatting this pandemic calls for a transparent, robust, coordinated, large-scale and science-based global response in the spirit of solidarity. We are strongly committed to presenting a united front against this common threat," they said in a statement issued following an extraordinary G20 leaders’ summit on the coronavirus which world leaders joined via a teleconference.

Noting that the pandemic is a "powerful reminder of the interconnectedness and vulnerabilities" of G20 countries, they said the absolute priority of world leaders is to overcome the health, social and economic impacts of COVID-19.

They noted that G20 countries were undertaking "immediate and vigorous measures" to support economies and protect workers, businesses and sectors most affected by the virus.

"We are injecting over $5 trillion into the global economy as part of targeted fiscal policy, economic measures, and guarantee schemes to counteract the social, economic and financial impacts of the pandemic."

They also pledged to work "swiftly and decisively" with multilateral bodies such as the World Health Organization, International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group to deploy a robust, coherent, coordinated and rapid financial package.

The statement called on finance ministers and central bank governors to coordinate to develop a "G20 action plan" in response to the outbreak.

It went on to say that the G20 was committed to take all necessary health measures and seek to ensure "adequate financing" to contain the pandemic and protect people.

Stressing that the G20 countries will expand manufacturing capacity to meet the increasing need for medical supplies as well as making them widely available, the statement underlined the necessity of "urgent short-term actions" to step up global efforts to fight the coronavirus crisis.

The G20 called on all countries, international organizations, the private sector, philanthropies and individuals to contribute to these efforts.

The leaders also agreed on cooperation to increase research and development funding for vaccines and medicines to fight the virus as well as to leverage digital technologies and strengthen scientific international cooperation.

"We will work to ensure the flow of vital medical supplies, critical agricultural products and other goods and services across borders and work to resolve disruptions to the global supply chains to support the health and well-being of all people."

The statement also said that the emergency measures aimed at protecting health will be "targeted, proportionate, transparent and temporary."

“We reiterate our goal to realize a free, fair, nondiscriminatory, transparent, predictable and stable trade and investment environment and to keep our markets open,” it added.

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