COVID-19 Dominates U.N. General Assembly Proceedings, Underscores Development, Climate, Leadership Challenges

Devex: How will COVID-19 change global development? 5 experts weigh in
“The unofficial theme of the 75th United Nations General Assembly, which certainly looked and felt different, was the response to and recovery from COVID-19. The unprecedented crisis has cast a long shadow and disrupted ongoing development efforts, which were already falling short of what was necessary to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. … Devex asked five experts how COVID-19 could reshape development and change their organizations. Here’s what they had to say…” (Saldinger, 9/28).

Devex: Top donors call for more humanitarian ‘burden-sharing’
“The world’s top 10 donors contribute 80% of humanitarian funding, a situation they say is unsustainable in light of budget pressures and increased needs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Representatives from the largest donor governments spoke Thursday at a United Nations General Assembly side event convened by the U.S. Many of them stressed the need for greater ‘burden-sharing’ in humanitarian assistance, particularly by expanding the donor base to include new governments…” (Igoe, 9/25).

AP: Leaders to UN: If virus doesn’t kill us, climate change will
“In a year of cataclysm, some world leaders at this week’s annual United Nations meeting are taking the long view, warning: If COVID-19 doesn’t kill us, climate change will. …’We are already seeing a version of environmental Armageddon,’ Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said, citing wildfires in the western U.S. and noting that the Greenland ice chunk was larger than a number of island nations. This was meant to be the year ‘we took back our planet,’ he said. Instead, the coronavirus has diverted resources and attention from what could have been the marquee issue at this U.N. gathering. Meanwhile, the U.N. global climate summit has been postponed to late 2021…” (Anna, 9/27).

AP: U.N. failures on coronavirus underscore the need for reforms
“The coronavirus that has claimed nearly 1 million lives has underscored the failure of the United Nations to bring countries together to defeat it, prompting renewed calls to reform the world body so that it can meet challenges far different — and more daunting — than those it faced at its birth. As U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said last week, ‘The pandemic is a clear test of international cooperation — a test we have essentially failed.’ There is a ‘disconnect between leadership and power,’ he said, warning that in the 21st century’s interconnected world, ‘solidarity is self-interest,’ and ‘if we fail to grasp that fact, everyone loses’…” (Lederer, 9/28).

NPR: COVID-19 Pandemic Tests World Leaders
“The COVID-19 pandemic is a test of international cooperation, one the U.N. secretary-general says the world is failing. As NPR’s Michele Kelemen reports, that failure was on display at the ongoing General Assembly…” (Kelemen, 9/26).

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