Speech/statement | Date: 10/11/2020 | Ministry of Foreign Affairs
By Minister of International Development Dag-Inge Ulstein (10 November)
Minister of International Development Dag-Inge Ulstein's remarks at OECD Development Committee High Level Meeting.
Equitable access to vaccines and Covax
- The coronavirus pandemic has – in a very dramatic way – highlighted how interconnected we are.
- We need a coordinated and effective international response - that addresses the scale of the challenges.
- Again, the most vulnerable are hit the hardest. According to the IMF, low-income developing countries risk a lost decade of development. Our aim must be to reach those furthest behind first.
- Even though we`ve had some good news in recent days – it still seems like the virus is in charge. (As was said in a WHO meeting earlier this week): We react, we complain, and we try to change our lives to avoid the virus. But we really need to change the fundamentals, and regain control over the situation.
- Our first priority should be to speed up our work to develop Covid-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics. And make them available and affordable for those who need them most, in line with the principles of fair global access. Critical health personnel, vulnerable groups and frontline humanitarian workers, among others.
- The Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator – or ACT-A– is set up to help do just that. Norway is proud to co-chair the ACT Accelerator, together with South Africa.
- I can’t think of anything more important right now than working day and night to ensure that we will succeed with this task.
- As you know: ACT-A is a partnership of states from all regions, global actors, science, civil society and business. It is co-hosted by the World Health Organization and the European Commission.
- Our goal is to mobilise political and financial support and find the solutions needed to stop the pandemic. Right now, this is our only exit strategy.
- How bad the pandemic gets, and how long it lasts, is largely within our control. What the world does - and how we work together - in the next few months is crucial.
- For ACT- A to succeed, we need an estimated 4.5 billion dollars this year, and another 24 billion dollars next year.
- We need to mobilise a lot of money in a short space of time. But doing nothing will be far more costly in all respects. It is estimated that the pandemic costs us around 500 billion dollars every month.
- Resources must come from beyond ODA allocations. And beyond existing health budgets.
- Like the rest of the world, Norway has had to make tough decisions.
- But we will not stop spending one percent of our gross national income on development assistance.
- At the same time we need to discuss how we can engage the business sector and financial actors in a much stronger and concrete way. Finance ministers must get on board, and states should think about how to facilitate innovative financing, new mechanisms and partnerships. This could be the most important financial investment ever made.
- I firmly believe that of our economic stimulus packages should be seen as part of our response to the pandemic. Resource mobilisation is the best possible investment in safeguarding our future.
- In closing: the pandemic is an urgent crisis with devastating consequences.
- But it also provides us with an opportunity to rethink how we organise our societies and international cooperation.
- It’s an opportunity to improve our systems, create more resilient societies.
- It is an opportunity to create a safer future for us all.
- As Susanna Moore [chair, OECD Development Assistance Committee] said in her opening remarks: The time for talking is over. If we don’t act now, it will be a longer, much tougher road ahead.
- This can be done. Science and international partnership have shown the way. In many ways - this is now a financial issue.
- So let’s get to work – and act now. Thank you.