The UN held a wide-ranging policy discussion stressing a variety of multilateral solutions to ease the global Covid-19 pandemic and also to get back on track toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
"Our commitment to achieving the SDGs has not changed, but the urgency to act has," Mona Juul, president of the Economic and Social Council, said on Monday during the online discussion over the topic of "Joining Forces: Effective Policy Solutions for Covid-19 Response".
Juul said while working toward breakthroughs that will help the world overcome the health emergency, including a vaccine, "we are only beginning to realize the true scale of the social and economic crisis that lies ahead of us".
Nearly half the global workforce was in immediate danger of being unemployed, while other global goals were being reversed, such as the increase in global poverty for the first time since 1998, with some regions slipping back to levels last seen 30 years ago, she said.
While this virus impacts everyone, it has not been an equalizer, but instead has exposed and compounded inequalities in societies.
"These disparities should be our catalyst, and our call to build back better," she said, adding national responses should be shaped by human rights and that country-specific global action should take special situations into account.
UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed told the meeting that lives and livelihoods everywhere depend on the UN's ability to support governments in tackling this "unprecedented health, humanitarian and socio-economic crisis".
Calling the SDGs "a clear compass" to direct the global community, she cited the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development, as the world's chart.
Mohammed underscored the "immediate priority" of addressing the needs of the most vulnerable countries and communities who risk being left behind.
Turning to the UN's Covid-19 Response and Recovery Fund to catalyze joint action on the ground for the most vulnerable countries and communities, she said that "we estimated billions and are receiving millions."
Describing the coronavirus pandemic as "a human crisis of historic magnitude," Liu Zhenmin, who heads the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), said it has destabilized global economic growth and led the world into a major global recession that threatens all the SDGs.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, also weighed into the discussion, saying: "There can be no going back to business as usual."
As of Tuesday morning, the total number of global Covid-19 cases increased to 4,175,284 while the death toll stood at 285,971, according to the Johns Hopkins University.