UNGA: Transformations within Reach

Statement by Minister of International Development Dag-Inge Ulstein at Transformations within Reach, 29 September 2020.

We are living in challenging times – and we need facts more than ever.

Real facts – about real problems: 

Climate change, covid-19, conflict, poverty, hunger and loss of jobs and biodiversity.

Not least - we need facts that connect the dots between these challenges.

We must be conscious of these connections – and we have to act on the facts.

If science is to evolve from being a provider of knowledge to a provider of solutions – we need policy-makers who listen.


The report being launched today – “Transformations within Reach” – is thorough and thought-provoking. 

It is an excellent example of the scientific community’s commitment to strategic collaboration in order to advance the use of evidence in global policy, discourse and action.

If the pandemic has taught us anything – it is the following:

  • collective human behavior matters
  • science matters
  • governments matter; and
  • compassion matters.

In fact – compassion and cooperation go hand in hand with self-interest.


The report tells us that the response to the coronavirus has had its positives and negatives.

The positive that stood out early was the strong role of national governments.

They took bold action to stem the spread of the disease – in the absence of vaccines, protocols and understanding.   

However – these governments often failed to work together. 

Parts of the cooperation have functioned well – whereas other parts have simply collapsed.

The report clearly shows the need to reform the United Nations System.

It has to be modernized – and enabled to respond to current and emerging global challenges.

Another key positive was a host of business innovations and changes in lifestyle choices.

It is imperative that we seize upon these achievements as opportunities to embark upon a more conscious, equitable and sustainable path of future development.


If we manage to get a Covid-19 vaccine ready by early 2021 – it will be a massive victory for science.

It will also be thanks to governments and organizations that for decades have promoted global health and vaccination as major tools in their strategies to fight poverty.   

It proves a simple fact of which I am particularly fond: 

Helping others is not only a duty – but also a way of helping yourself.

If we manage to secure a fair distribution of the vaccines – allowing it to reach the poorest and the weakest – it will also be a major step towards fighting poverty and reaching the 2030 goals.

And this is what Norway aims to do – as co-leader of the Facilitation Council for the new mechanism called ACT-Accelerator. 


This is how we meet the pandemic – by realizing that it is not our only problem.

It is an amplifier of old problems and potential pre-cursor to future problems.    

Responding to Covid-19 give us opportunities to take action that will enable the world to take a leap towards sustainability.

Let us address climate change and the extreme inequalities of the world – and resist the return to old patterns and pathways.

It is time to introduce game-changing measures that will help us build a more equitable and sustainable world.

To build back better, fairer, greener and more scientific.  

To act on facts.