1. GLOBAL OVERVIEW
On 30 April 2020 the United Nations Deputy Secretary General and the UNDP Administrator jointly launched the United Nations Framework for Immediate Socio-economic Response to COVID-19. It sets out the United Nations’ urgent socio-economic support to countries and societies in the face of COVID19, implementing the United Nations Secretary-General’s Shared Responsibility, Global Solidarity report on the same subject.
It is one of three critical components of the United Nation’s efforts to save lives, protect people, and rebuild better, alongside the health response, led by the World Health Organization (WHO), and the humanitarian response, as detailed in the COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan.
The heart of the response lies at the national and sub-national levels, using existing structures; and the collective know-how of the United Nations’ 131 Country Teams – serving 162 countries and territories – which is being mobilized to implement this framework over the next 12 to 18 months.
In a virtual press conference on 30 April, the Secretary General expressed concern over the lack of sufficient support for the world’s developing countries, to enable them to respond to the worst economic and social crisis in generations. He highlighted three key dimensions of efforts by the United Nations: (a) achieving a global ceasefire, which has resonated widely, with endorsements from 114 Governments, diverse regional organizations, religious leaders and more than 200 civil society groups spanning all regions; (b) addressing the immediate needs of people facing the most dire economic plight; and (c) planning for a better recovery which must start now to steer the world onto a safer, healthier, more sustainable and inclusive path.
On May 1, the Secretary General launched the UN’s Policy Brief on Older Persons. He pointed out that the fatality rate for older people is higher and for those over 80, it is five times the global average. He went on to state that the majority of older people are women, and that they are more likely to be poor, and without access to healthcare. In Bangladesh, gender, age and poverty intersect to negatively impact access to humanitarian information and services due to limited mobility, low literacy rate and lack of access to mobile phones.
The policy identifies four key priorities for action in devising immediate and longer-term policy and programmatic responses: (a) ensure that difficult health-care decisions affecting older people are guided by a commitment to dignity and the right to health; (b) strengthen social inclusion and solidarity during physical distancing; (c) fully integrate a focus on older persons into the socio-economic and humanitarian response to COVID-19; and (d) expand participation by older persons, share good practices and harness knowledge and data (see section on Gender for greater details).4 The latest May briefing on the World Economic Situation and Prospects of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs noted that the pandemic will worsen global inequality. The pandemic puts some 160 million jobs in tourism, manufacturing and commodity sectors in developing countries at risk, potentially threatening economic growth and decent jobs as envisaged in SDG-8. Massive job losses will likely worsen inequality, both within and between countries, while governments in developing countries lack necessary fiscal resources to fight the pandemic and minimize the fallout of the worst recession in decades. Robust and coordinated development cooperation will remain critical to ensure that developing countries can weather the storm and accelerate sustainable development of their economies.5 With work in several productive sectors having ceased temporarily in many countries, millions of migrant workers globally have emerged as a uniquely vulnerable group. On 30 April ILO released a set of genderdifferentiated recommendations to policymakers and constituents for the protection of migrant workers, and refugees during the pandemic. The guidance focuses on three key areas of action: “migrant workers’ inclusion in national COVID-19 responses; bilateral cooperation between countries of origin and destination; and social dialogue and full involvement of employers’ and workers’ organizations in the development of COVID-19 responses.” As of 4 May 2020, the Global Humanitarian Response Plan (GHRP) had received USD 859.5 million.
Another USD 608 million received outside the plan brought humanitarian funding for the COVID-19 response to USD 1.47 billion. The largest contributors were Germany (USD 157.8 million), the United Kingdom (USD 109.9 million), the United States of America (USD 91.1 million), Japan (USD 82.4 million), and European Commission (USD 45.6 million).7 As of 4 May 2020, WHO’s Solidarity Response Fund had mobilized USD 207.3 million from more than 282,000 donations.8 WHO reported USD 4.7 billion in total support committed or disbursed for the COVID-19 response.
At the local level, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved a $100 million loan to support the Government of Bangladesh in its efforts to address the immediate public health requirements of combatting the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, which will support the immediate procurement of equipment and supplies for testing; upgrade of medical infrastructure; and the development of system and community capacities for surveillance, prevention, and response to the pandemic in Bangladesh.