UNGA: Special session on the Coronavirus pandemic

Statement by Prime Minister Erna Solberg at the United Nations special session of the General Assembly in response to the Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, 3 December 2020.

Secretary General Guterres, Exellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

I am here today with two messages:

First; we must handle the ongoing crises and stop the pandemic as soon as we can.

We are facing perhaps the darkest hours of the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of deaths has surpassed 1.3 million people. Millions of children have to stay away from their schools. There are new lockdowns. The global economy is faced with a loss of more than 500 billion US Dollars a month. Unemployment, human suffering, despairing health workers and the collapse of social systems are happening everywhere.

BUT. There are rays of light. News of efficient vaccines give us hope. The commitment of countries, civil society and industry to find effective tools is encouraging.

However. To actually end the pandemic for all, this is the time to increase our efforts. We need more vaccines, we need diagnostics and therapeutics. And we need to secure fair and global access through efficient distribution on the ground.

To reach the most vulnerable groups, also the health connector should be strengthened. We need increased support for universal health care to deliver efficient health services – including COVID-19 tools such as vaccines.

The ACT Accelerator was set up to do just that.

Norway is proud to co-chair the ACT Accelator, and we are deeply committed to do our share. We plan to allocate another 223 million US Dollars in 2020, totaling our contribution for global efforts so far to more than 500 million dollars.  More countries need to come forward to contribute their share.

Today´s event is important for two reasons: We must reach a shared understanding of the realities we are facing. And we must recognize the possibility of ending the pandemic if we work together. Our commitment to international cooperation has been our strength and strategy in fighting the pandemic. There are no other alternatives but to continue this cooperation.

My second message is that we must prevent future disasters

No matter how soon we manage to end COVID-19, we need to equip ourselves with better tools to prevent and efficiently respond to future pandemics and global disasters.

Leaders and stakeholders must develop a master plan together, where responsibilities and future work is clearly outlined and recognized. This must be based on existing and enhanced global commitments to prevent such disasters. In other words,  we must strengthen our joint defence.

I support the Secretary General and the call for a Global Summit to address this. We must invest in the future by making all societies more robust. We must build back better in order to secure truly sustainable development, including happier & healthier lives for all.

Thank you.