UN’s response to COVID-19

Statement by Ambassador Odd-Inge Kvalheim at briefing by Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed on the UN’s response to COVID-19, 8 April 2020.

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Thank you, Deputy Secretary-General for briefing us on the UN development system’s collective response to COVID-19.

At this time of great uncertainty and global disruption, we need a coordinated multilateral effort with the UN at its centre.

The coronavirus pandemic requires a multidimensional approach.

The virus is already hitting countries with weak health systems. The role of WHO in leading our efforts to fight the virus is crucial.

The Humanitarian response plan is a key pillar. Norway has made a contribution of 90 million NOK to the appeal.

We also need to urgently start addressing the socio-economic consequences of the crisis, which are already dire.

In some cases, the socio-economic impact has already set in, even before the actual virus has materialized itself.

In some countries, such as in Small Island Development States (SIDS), the collapse of tourism is crippling an already fragile economy.

We are also distressed by the effects on vulnerable populations in Africa.

We therefore need to employ different measures simultaneously.

The Secretary-General’s report “Shared Responsibility, global solidarity: Responding to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19” is timely and important, and we hope that it will develop into a plan.

Norway is very pleased with the establishment of the COVID 19 Response and Recovery Multi Partner Trust Fund, which builds on this analysis and offers a way forward.

We expect the fund to ensure a coherent response from the UN at country level, and it will offer a humanitarian-recovery-development nexus approach.

A joint fund will provide predictability for our partners. It will contribute to more coherent and effective efforts to build more resilient health systems.

It will also provide funding to fight secondary effects of the crisis, such as on employment.

We are delighted to have Jens Wandel heading the fund, supported by the Multi-Donor Partner Office. The fund is now in very able hands.

We have made a first pledge of 150 million NOK. And we are committed to continue supporting the Fund in the time to come. We hope to see the fund operative in the very near future. We welcome the pledges made so far, and encourage other members to contribute to the fund.

The UN Funds and Programmes have all responded quickly individually to address COVID 19. Organizations say they are facing unparalleled demands from governments for supporting national COVID-19 response.

Resources have been repurposed/redirected. This has largely been possible thanks to core resources. Core funding allows the UN organizations to be flexible, responsive and to channel resources to where they are needed the most. As a major provider of core resources, Norway encourages others to increase their core funding.

Our response has to be gender-sensitive. Women all over the world are experiencing a dramatic increase of violence in the shadows of the ongoing pandemic. We must also apply a gender lens in our recovery efforts, if not we risk missing the sustainable  development goals. In the time ahead we will provide gender responsive funding and increased support to the protection against sexual and gender based violence.

Support the Secretary-General’s Call to Cease all Violence Against Women.

Norway has also provided 2,2 billion NOK to CEPI’s global work to develop a vaccine against the corona virus.

Eventuelle ytterligere detaljer om HUM-bidragene

Norway welcomes the Covid-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan (GHRP) and has pledged NOK 90 million in support of the appeal. The funding will be allocated to WFP (NOK 40m), WHO (NOK 15m), UNHCR (NOK 15m), UNFPA (10m) and IOM (NOK 10m). The contributions are unearmarked and the organisations will have the necessary flexibility to support operational responses where they are most needed. This comes in addition to an initial contribution of NOK 10 million to WHO.

It is essential that humanitarian organisations can respond quickly in this crisis and adjust their priorities according to rapidly shifting needs. Un-earmarked funding is key in this regard. Norway provided earlier in the year core funding to major humanitarian organisations including WFP (NOK 300 million, UNHCR (NOK 380 mill) and UN OCHA (NOK 90 mill).

Norway is a firm supporter of the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) with a multi-year agreement allowing predictable funding. Since the fund was established, Norway has been among the top donors and have contributed roughly 10 per cent of CERF’s funding. We have already provided substantial funding this year (NOK 420 mill). CERF is a key instrument for rapid response and we are pleased that it already has disbursed USD 75 million in response to Covid-19.