The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for global solidarity and greater international cooperation, and must be turned into an opportunity for fundamental change, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a keynote address to the Nobel Peace Prize Forum on Friday.
The event was held the day after the UN World Food Programme (WFP) officially received the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize for its lifesaving work assisting millions of hungry people across the globe.
The Nobel discussion focused on multilateralism and global governance in the aftermath of the pandemic, which has affected practically every corner of the planet.
The ever-growing economic and social fallout means the world is facing the biggest global recession in 80 years, rising levels of extreme poverty, and looming famine.
The Secretary-General called for a “reset”.
“We cannot respond to this crisis by going back to what was, or withdrawing into national shells. We need more international cooperation and stronger international institutions,” he stated.
Nearly a year has passed since COVID-19 first emerged in China. More than 68 million cases have been reported globally, including some 1.5 million deaths, according to latest data from the World Health Organization (WHO).
Although countries are facing a common enemy, the Secretary-General said they have not mounted a joint response, and even competed against each other for essential supplies and frontline workers.
“We cannot let the same thing happen for access to new COVID-19 vaccines, which must be a global public good”, he stressed.