GENEVA 04 November 2020 – The COVID-19 pandemic can be turned into an opportunity “to build back better towards achieving the 2030 Sustainable Goals,” Philippine Ambassador Evan P. Garcia told the First Preparatory Committee to the 15th United Nations (UN) Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD XV) that met virtually on 29 October 2020.  

Ambassador Garcia, the Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva, said the pandemic-induced economic crisis presents an opportunity for UNCTAD to enhance the global economic architecture. Such effort must be underpinned, he said, by a reaffirmation of the international community’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

“The interests of developing countries, including middle-income countries where 75% of the world population and 62% of the world’s poor live, must be upheld if we are to build back better,” Ambassador Garcia said.

The Philippine envoy further stressed that “discourse on resilience must be enhanced to take into account the lessons learned from the COVID19 pandemic.” Among the most important of these lessons, he said, is “the need to maintain the policy space of states and to enhance their capacities to deliver timely interventions and build social safety nets in times of disruptive emergencies.”

Ambassador Garcia also outlined the Philippines’ vision for post-pandemic recovery, which comes in three phases: Emergency, Recover, and Resiliency.

At the emergency phase, the Ambassador said lives and livelihood must be safeguarded from the virus. He also stressed that the delivery of public health goods and social safety nets, including financial assistance for affected families are important at this stage. 

The Ambassador commended UNCTAD for what he said were excellent research and analytical output throughout the year, which have assisted states in formulating policies that enhance their crisis response capacities. “We need more of these from UNCTAD,” he added.

At the recovery stage, the Ambassador stressed the need to rebuild industries that had been affected by the economic disruptions caused by the Great Lockdown. 

“Crucial at this stage is our work to secure our public health infrastructure and our food value chain,” Ambassador Garcia said. “This can be helped by enhancing national capacities and preserving policy space. We need UNCTAD to contribute to this reconstruction through its research and analysis, technical cooperation, and consensus-building pillars.”

Finally, Ambassador Garcia said the international community “should look into the broader horizon beyond the current pandemic.” He noted “the need to build a truly resilient, future-proof recovery.” 

“Structural transformation must be pursued in a manner that takes into account other existential challenges, such as climate change,” said the Ambassador. “UNCTAD should assist states in instituting meaningful transformation that would enhance resilience in the areas of the digital economy, universal health coverage, migration and remittances, and the empowerment of micro, small, and medium enterprises, women and the youth,” the Ambassador added. END

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