Remarks delivered by the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Marina Sereni, at the 2021 UN High Level Political Forum For Sustainable Development – Side Event “Strengthening Pandemic Preparedness and Response: Financing the Global Commons for Global Health”. —
Senior Minister of Singapore,
Distinguished representatives of Indonesia and South Africa,
Under-Secretary General of UNDESA,
Distinguished colleagues and delegates,
Italy as G20 Presidency believes that the issue of pandemic preparedness needs to be prioritized in the global agenda, as it is key to the multilateral response to Covid-19 today, while representing also a defining instrument for our resilience against global health emergencies tomorrow.
The Covid-19 pandemic is far from over. The latest data show that a new wave is happening in the African Continent, that the problem has been underestimated and that we must speed up the equitable distribution of vaccines.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Italy has been at the forefront to promote a multilateral coordinating response to Covid-19. Italy is one of the main supporters of the access to Covid-19 tool accelerator Act-A, and of its vaccine pillar COVAX facility. Just a few days ago, the G20 High Level Independent Panel on Financing the Global Commons for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, presented its report in the context of the G20 Finance Ministerial Meeting in Venice.
While its recommendations will inform discussion in preparation of the Joint Finance Health Ministerial Meeting, that will be hosted by Italy in October, the activity itself of the G20 High Level Independent Panel on Financing the Global Commons for Pandemic Preparedness and Response is a concrete first step in order to make operational the Rome Declaration of principles on pandemic preparedness. The Rome Declaration was adopted at the Global Health Summit co-hosted by Italy and the European Commission, and it constitutes an important point of convergence on how to work together to defeat this pandemic and prevent the next one.
I will focus on two main objectives that are cross-cutting to the topic of pandemic preparedness.
First, financing: consistent with its focus, the G20 High Level Independent Panel on Financing the Global Commons for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, highlighted the urgent need to increase international financing for pandemic prevention and preparedness by at least 75 billion dollars in the next 5 years as a bare minimum.
We know that this figure is realistic if not conservative if we compare it just with the figure of the financing gap of the Act Accelerator just for 2021 and the projections for 2022.
Not only we must insist on closing the financing gap of the Act-A calling all countries with means to contribute to put their resources at service to this tool that is a cornerstone of multilateralism, but also to share doses of safe and effective vaccines to be readily available for delivery to countries in need.
Second, Governance: it is crystal clear that multilateral prevention, early warning, quick response and oversight must be scaled up now. Different models and initiatives have been proposed, both by the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response and by the aforementioned G20 High Level Independent Panel. The EU is also working to build on the lessons learned by the Covid-19 unprecedented crisis.
It is clear that any initiative must be synergetic with the processes launched in the context of the 74th World Health Assembly, both in terms of strengthening the WHO and of upgrading the multilateral system through the set-up of the working group that could lead potentially to a pandemic treaty.
I would like to conclude by emphasizing that the activity carried out by the Italian G20 Presidency, in particular the Rome Declaration are a starting point. Our concrete actions will now need to be consistent with our intentions. We count on our collective efforts to deliver and prevent the next pandemic.