2020 will be remembered as the year when the world changed because of a virus.
It has changed everything from the way we greet each other to how meetings like this are conducted. And it has also led to a growing awareness of how extremely important the global health architecture is.
While I believe few in this meeting doubted the importance of international cooperation in the field of global health before,
I think it is fair to say that the COVID-pandemic has made the entire world realize that some challenges can only be overcome if we work together.
And it is because of this simple reason that we have multilateralism: Some challenges knows no borders. We need to work together to confront our common challenges.
I would like to thank our hosts for acknowledging this by bringing us together in an alliance for multilateralism.
A special thank you to Germany and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Heiko Maas.
We need to use this moment to reflect on ways to improve the global health architecture.
Let me suggest a few points:
First, we need to strengthen WHO as the leading and coordinating agency in global health, including in health preparedness and response.
Norway is prepared to find good and sustainable solutions together with other countries to achieve this.
Second: global, transparent collaboration on immunization is urgently needed to put an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Norway and South-Africa are the co-chairs of the new global Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator Facilitation Council.
Its aim is to secure global access to vaccines, diagnostics and treatment, as well as strengthening health systems.
Norway will be participating fully in all stages of the vaccine pillar, the COVAX facility, together with 156 countries and economies from all over the world.
We need governments to commit to this initiative with more than just words.
Global access to vaccines is what we need to work towards in order to end this pandemic.
As we have stated a number of times before: No one is safe until everyone is safe.
Third and finally, we have to be better prepared for the next pandemic.
We are looking forward to the independent evaluation of the world’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We must use the ongoing crisis to rethink our positions and build back better for the future.