As economies are slowly reopening following a sudden halt of activity, countries have the opportunity to build back better by creating more sustainable, resilient and inclusive economies and societies. There is significant momentum in an increased number of countries around the notion that a reversion to the pre-COVID economy, which fueled environmental degradation, climate change and increasing inequalities, is not desirable. Many recognize the recovery from the economic fallout of the pandemic as a vital opportunity to shape a post-COVID economy that is greener, healthier, more inclusive and more resilient.
Yet, the context for financing this recovery is challenging. Governments have seen the fiscal space for investment in a sustainable recovery significantly limited in the context of the global economic crisis. Countries are faced with a dual challenge of declining revenues due to the crisis and increased spending demands. An increasing number of countries is also facing acute debt distress. Efforts are being made to provide debt relief for all countries requesting debt alleviation. But a comprehensive solution that engages multilateral, public and private creditors is yet to be achieved. At the same time, the private sector also faces limited space to invest, as businesses have also been hit hard.
ECOSOC has taken several steps to help countries finance their response to COVID-19 and embark on a path towards a sustainable recovery. The 2020 ECOSOC Financing for Development Forum adopted an outcome containing policies to support health measures, address socioeconomic impact of the pandemic and ensure building back better. The outcome represents the first universally agreed UN set of policies on COVID-19. In addition, the Council convened two meetings of the FfD Forum, on 23 April and 2 June respectively, to advocate for a comprehensive response; highlight the needs on the ground and help countries access resources available for COVID-19 response.
These discussions advocated that resources that are being made available must be aligned with the SDGs, including stimulus packages and bailouts, as well as international development cooperation in all its forms. There is also need for scaling up the availability of concessional financing for developing countries struggling to rebuild, especially the least developed and other countries in special situations. Moreover, there is the need to strengthen national and subnational capacities to manage and reduce risks and multidimensional vulnerability and advance multi-stakeholder partnerships in the efforts to build SDG-conducive economies and societies. The recovery will only be sustainable if the systemic and structural vulnerabilities exposed by the pandemic are adequately addressed, e.g. evolving durable solution to debt sustainability.
Proposed guiding questions:
Followed by interactive discussion