Multilateralism key to addressing global challenges

“Inequality in the sharing of vaccines reflects a multilateral system that is deeply flawed,” Uhuru

President Uhuru Kenyatta has said the ongoing United Nations Conference on Trade and Development can help jump-start the struggling world economy from the ravages of Covid-19.

Speaking on Tuesday as he addressed the opening session of the hybrid UNCTAD15 conference being hosted by the Caribbean state of Barbados, Uhuru called on countries to utilise the conference to agree on trade and development interventions to achieve inclusive shared prosperity.

This Conference provides all of us a platform to put development back on track by focusing on (i) transforming economies through diversification, (ii) fostering more sustainable and resilient economies; (iii) improving the way development is financed; (iv) and revitalising multilateralism to achieve a sustainable, inclusive, and digital world of shared prosperity,” he said.

Uhuru asked participating countries to use established global frameworks such as the Addis Ababa Financing for Development Conference, the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on climate change as well as UNCTAD14’s outcomes to accelerate post-Covid-19 socioeconomic recovery.

The President vouched for a functional multilateral system stating that the challenges facing the world cannot be addressed by a single government or agency.

He added the unprecedented socioeconomic decline caused by Covid-19 has widened global inequalities and aggravated vulnerabilities of developing countries.

“It has reversed or stalled progress on implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, rendering millions of people to lose their lives as well as livelihoods, and many have fallen back into extreme poverty,” Uhuru said.

“The inequality in the sharing of vaccines reflects a multilateral system that is deeply flawed. To date, recovery has been unbalanced reflecting faulty lines that existed before the pandemic. There have been substantial differences in GDP growth between regions and countries, and a sharp divergence in income gains, amongst social groups.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres who also made his opening remarks at the conference said it will be impossible for the world to fully recover from the ravages of Covid-19 unless developed countries commit to the production and fair distribution of adequate vaccines to ensure 70 per cent of the world adult population is fully vaccinated by June next year.

He urged wealthy nations to address challenges of debt distress, lack of investments, unfair trade and climate change facing developing nations so as to ensure the world attains its dream of shared prosperity.

Dear friends — an uneven recovery is leaving much of humanity behind. And until we get serious about vaccine equity, recovery will be stuck at the starting gate. Wealthy countries have far more vaccines than their people. Yet more than 90 per cent of Africans have yet to receive their first dose. This is an outrage,” Guterres said.