GENEVA – The heads of the International Labor Organization (ILO) and World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday welcomed G20 leaders’ commitment as a “first step” to the challenge created by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
ILO Director-General Guy Ryder and his WHO counterpart, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, both issued statements after the G20 meeting, saying the G20 was formulating a truly global response to the challenges created by the coronavirus.
“The G20’s strong and clear commitment to do whatever it takes to overcome the intertwined health, social and economic impacts of the pandemic is a very welcome first step,” Ryder said. “Their decision to spare no efforts to protect people, jobs, incomes, and enterprises is extremely important.”
The ILO’s first assessment of the outbreak’s effect on the global world of work, published on March 18, found that it could increase global unemployment by almost 25 million and push millions of people into underemployment and working poverty.
Ryder said now is a time for global solidarity, especially with the most vulnerable and with the emerging and developing world.
“We must also offer our full support to the health workers who are in the front lines of the medical response,” he said.
Tedros said earlier he welcomed G20 leaders’ commitment “to do whatever it takes to overcome the pandemic” to protect lives and livelihoods, as well as restore confidence and shore up stability currently threatened in trade and other sectors.
He added that the G20 committed to support and further strengthen the WHO’s mandate in coordinating the response and called for full funding of the WHO’s Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan.
When addressing the virtual G20 meeting earlier, Tedros exhorted them “to ignite a global movement to ensure this never happens again.”
He told journalists on Monday that measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus could unwittingly exacerbate shortages of essential protective gear and he would ask G20 leaders to increase production and avoid export bans.
Leaders of the Group of 20 major economies on Thursday reiterated their commitment to do “whatever it takes” to tackle the novel coronavirus outbreak.
“Combatting this pandemic calls for a transparent, robust, coordinated, large-scale, and science-based global response in the spirit of solidarity. We are strongly committed to presenting a united front against this common threat,” they said in a statement issued following an extraordinary G20 leaders’ summit on the coronavirus, which world leaders joined via a teleconference.
Noting the pandemic is a “powerful reminder of the interconnectedness and vulnerabilities” of G20 countries, they said the absolute priority of world leaders is to overcome the health, social and economic impacts of Covid-19.
They said G20 countries were undertaking “immediate and vigorous measures” to support economies and protect workers, businesses and sectors most affected by the virus.
“We are injecting over USD5 trillion into the global economy as part of targeted fiscal policy, economic measures, and guarantee schemes to counteract the social, economic and financial impacts of the pandemic,” they added.
They also pledged to work “swiftly and decisively” with multilateral bodies, such as the World Health Organization, International Monetary Fund, and World Bank Group, to deploy a robust, coherent, coordinated and rapid financial package.
The statement called on finance ministers and central bank governors to coordinate to develop a “G20 action plan” in response to the outbreak.
It went on to say that the G20 was committed to take all necessary health measures and seek to ensure “adequate financing” to contain the pandemic and protect people.
Noting that the G20 countries will expand manufacturing capacity to meet the increasing need for medical supplies, as well as making them widely available, the statement underlined the necessity of “urgent short-term actions” to step up global efforts to fight the coronavirus crisis.
The G20 called on all countries, international organizations, the private sector, philanthropies, and individuals to contribute to these efforts.
The leaders also agreed on cooperation to increase research and development funding for vaccines and medicines to fight the virus and to leverage digital technologies and strengthen scientific international cooperation.
“We will work to ensure the flow of vital medical supplies, critical agricultural products, and other goods and services across borders and work to resolve disruptions to the global supply chains to support the health and well-being of all people,” they said.
The statement also said the emergency measures aimed at protecting health would be “targeted, proportionate, transparent and temporary.”
“We reiterate our goal to realize a free, fair, nondiscriminatory, transparent, predictable, and stable trade and investment environment and to keep our markets open,” it added. (Anadolu)