Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will co-host today a major United Nations conference aimed at developing a co-ordinated global response to mitigate the devastating social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unless countries come together now to co-ordinate a recovery plan, the UN estimates the pandemic could slash nearly US$ 8.5 trillion from the world economy over the next two years, forcing 34.3 million people into extreme poverty this year and potentially 130 million more over the course of the decade.
Trudeau is co-hosting the four-hour virtual conference with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness.
More than 50 heads of state and government are to participate, including Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s Emmanuel Macron, along with representatives of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the private sector.
It was not certain late Wednesday, however, whether U.S. President Donald Trump, who has argued that wise leaders put the interests of their own countries first, would take part.
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In a release about the event, the UN says all countries face economic strain due to the pandemic, particularly developing countries which were already in “debt distress” before the crisis and can’t afford to cushion the blow for their citizens or to undertake fiscal stimulus measures.
“We are in an unprecedented human crisis because of a microscopic virus,” Guterres says in the release. “We need to respond with unity and solidarity and key aspect of solidarity is financial support.”
Trudeau says that “the best way to help our people and economies rebound is to work together as a global community.”
“We want to support collective and individual actions to enable a recovery that leads to more inclusive, sustainable and resilient economies, where no one is left behind.”
Earlier this week, when he announced his role in the conference, Trudeau argued that ensuring poorer countries survive the crisis is not just the right thing to do, it’s in Canada’s own self-interest.
“Canadian jobs and businesses depend on stable and productive economies in other countries, so it matters to us how everyone weathers this storm,” he said Tuesday.