Deputy Director General Zhang Yi and colleagues from CICETE,
Dear guests online,
Fellow colleagues from the UN System,
It’s my great pleasure to welcome you all to this official launch of the Report on the Socio-Economic Impact Assessment of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Five Poverty Counties.
And in welcoming you, let me also wish all of you a happy, peaceful and healthy 2021!
The report we are launching today was initiated by UNDP together with the China International Center for Economic and Technical Exchange (CICETE), with the support of the UN Country Team in China. It followed the global release by the United Nations Secretary General of the UN Framework for the Immediate Socio-Economic Response to the COVID 19 Crisis.
This socio-economic response framework consists of five streams of work – an integrated support package offered by the United Nations Development System (UNDS) to protect the needs and rights of people living under the duress of the pandemic, with particular focus on the most vulnerable countries, groups, and people who risk being left behind. The five streams of work that constitute this package include: 1. ensuring that essential health services are still available and protecting health systems; 2. helping people cope with adversity, through social protection and basic services; 3. protecting jobs, supporting small and medium-sized enterprises, and informal sector workers through economic response and recovery programmes; 4. guiding the necessary surge in fiscal and financial stimulus to make macroeconomic policies work for the most vulnerable and strengthening multilateral and regional responses; and 5. promoting social cohesion and investing in community-led resilience and response systems. And of course, these five streams are connected by a strong environmental sustainability and gender equality imperative to build back better.
So likewise, the joint assessment conducted by the UN and CICETE is a critical component of an integrated support package. It provides an understanding of the economic and social impact of the pandemic in impoverished areas of China and the challenges of the post-COVID era. It will be used to inform and support the programmatic design of future collaboration between the Chinese government and UN agencies in poverty alleviation and sustainable development.
The report investigates the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable groups and the challenges as they seek to recover. As such, it is expected to inform policy that tackles the devastating social and economic dimensions of this crisis, with a focus on the most affected. This includes not only women, children, the youth and older persons but also low-wage workers, small and medium enterprises, the informal sector and other vulnerable groups. As you know, we must not only beat the virus but also tackle its profound consequences, particularly on the most vulnerable, and in so doing, ensure, that we leave no one behind.
Everything we do during and after this crisis must be with a strong focus on building more equal, inclusive and sustainable economies and societies that are more resilient in the face of pandemics and future shocks. That includes designing fiscal and monetary policies that are able to support the direct provision of resources to support workers and households, the provision of health and unemployment insurance, scaled up social protection, and businesses to prevent bankruptcies and massive job losses.
In this context, I am pleased to let you know that the UN Country Team in China has conducted broader analysis which looks at the fiscal response to the social and economic impact of COVID, as well as community programmes with policy implications for a range of vulnerable groups. We plan to utilize the findings as we operationalize the new Cooperation Framework between the UN and the Government of China for the period 2021 to 2025.
To conclude, I would like to extend my special gratitude to CICETE and UNDP for leading this effort. My heartfelt thanks go to CICETE for its strong coordination and support which made the household survey possible. I also wish to recognize the two experts, Professor Sun Tongquan from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and Professor Long Wenjin from China Agricultural University, as well as the field research team for their hard work and commitment to provide comprehensive statistics and sound analysis.
Last but not least, I would also like to thank UN colleagues, in particular from UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF and the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office, for their strong support and involvement in the whole process. I would also like to thank other UN agencies: The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), International Labor Organization (ILO), United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), and the Joint United Nations Programme for HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) for providing their comments on the draft report.