Ministerial Forum on “Promoting multilateralism to realize inclusive, resilient and sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 in the context of the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development and its social dimensions”
59th Session of the Commission for Social Development (Virtual Meeting)
9 February 2021
ROSEMARIE G. EDILLON
Undersecretary for National Development Policy and Planning
Excellencies, distinguished colleagues, good morning from the Philippines.
In attending this virtual meeting, we are reminded of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in our lives. Indeed, we live in a VUCA world. We knew this from way back, yet this pandemic has shown just how unprepared we were to this volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous situation.
Engaging stakeholders, Building coalitions
On the other hand, this experience has shown how we can navigate through a VUCA world. In the Philippines, we have adopted a whole-of society approach, even going beyond our borders, early on.
The World Health Organization helped us to better understand the dynamics of COVID19 transmission and how we could protect our citizens from its lethal effects. We even reached out to development planners from our neighboring countries to find out how they are coping with the crisis.
We had to enlist the cooperation of everyone as we restricted mobility, social and economic activities, and observe public health measures. National and local governments provided financial assistance, wage subsidies and regulatory relief to families, workers and small businesses. We engaged the academe, and research institutions to provide timely information through data analytics on the COVID19 epidemiology and the impact of the quarantine restrictions. We have called on the business sector to catalyze investments towards healthcare, COVID-proofing of establishments, safe transportation, and digital transformation. Currently, we are building partnerships for vaccine procurement and the necessary logistics and facilities in preparation for COVID-19 immunization.
Equally important is the role of multilateral financial institutions such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank to help finance various initiatives – from increasing PPE supply, procuring test kits, and supporting adversely affected families. And at this critical phase, we laud the WHO and the European Commission for its support to the Philippines and other countries through the COVAX facility. The facility has brought together governments, global organizations, manufacturers, scientists, private sector, and philanthropists in order to provide equitable access to COVID-19 diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines.
The next big challenge is for multilateralism to work towards building the resilience of every individual, in every family and in every country.
The pandemic has resulted in tremendous social and economic costs for everyone. But we have also seen the great inequality in the extent to which some peoples are able to protect themselves from the ill-health effects of COVID19. Some were at greater risk of infection because their work could not be done remotely. Others had to stop working altogether, because their customer base is in high-interaction environments. Distance learning has become the primary mode of delivering instructions, but others did not have access to the necessary digital technology and therefore could not attend classes.
As we begin the 10-year countdown to 2030, we face the grim reality that the COVID19 pandemic has resulted in a major setback. We may not achieve the goals we have set as a community of nations, unless we all re-commit to making multilateralism and partnerships work. We need to re-affirm our resolve to leave no one behind, beginning with ensuring equity in access to vaccines and medicines. Being a globalized world, the health and well-being of everyone depends on everyone else. We also need to improve access to information, knowledge, technology and development finance. And finally, we need to harness all our creative and innovative minds to recover from this crisis and build resilience going forward.
We should, as one humanity, embrace this challenge of a VUCA world.