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Why we should cooperate more than ever in these testing times

Op-Ed by the Nordic Ambassadors to Tanzania: Ms. Mette Nørgaard Dissing-Spandet (Denmark),Mrs. Riitta Swan (Finland), Ms. Elisabeth Jacobsen (Norway), Mr. Anders Sjöberg (Sweden)

This year the Nordic countries, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, celebrate the Nordic week in Tanzania for the 5th time. Nordic Week highlights the strong ties and over 50 years of cooperation between Tanzania and the Nordic countries. The Nordic Week is an opportunity to share our values and learn from each other’s experiences.

The world is not only facing the Covid-19 pandemic and an economic recession, but also an environmental crisis affecting the livelihood of millions of people. In an increasingly globalized world, no country can solve these challenges on its own. The situation calls for multilateralism; we need more, not less coordinated international efforts.

Multilateral cooperation is under pressure globally. This is evident when in international trade:  isolationism and protectionism have over the last years challenged a rules-based world order. At the same time, the ripple effect of the Covid-19 virus on economic activities and livelihoods is being felt by countries around the world. For Tanzania, there has been an impact on tourism and in access to export markets for agricultural products. We need to step up regional and international cooperation on trade to strengthen our common ability to counter the global economic recession. We need to work together to ease trade restrictions and facilitate trade flows. 

The Nordic countries are committed to upholding fair and equitable rules of trade within the framework of an open global economy. We will collaborate with all like-minded nations that seek rules based multilateral trade and cooperation. We will also be a driver for reforms that make international organizations more effective and representative.

The Nordic countries have a long history of partnership with developing countries, and we remain a consistent partner in times of crisis. The Covid-19 pandemic affects us all, and it requires a multi-sectoral response with continuous awareness raising and communication to the public. The pandemic has also highlighted the extent to which protection of public health is dependent on international cooperation. Multilateral efforts are needed to ensure that a Covid-19 vaccine, once developed, is made globally accessible, and is rapidly and fairly distributed to vulnerable groups and low-income countries. The Nordic countries firmly support the leading role played by the WHO in coordinating international global health efforts. We will continue to support efforts to improve global health, including through our substantial contributions to various multilateral financing mechanisms.

Over the past 20 years, the relations between the Nordic countries’ and African countries have broadened. Today, there is a much stronger emphasis on political dialogue and economic partnership. We are pleased to note that one area of increased cooperation is on multilateral issues. The Africa Nordic Foreign Ministers meeting, successfully hosted by the Tanzanian government in Dar es Salaam in November 2019, brought our countries closer on a number of issues.

We will continue to deepen our dialogue with countries in Africa on multilateral issues. We must jointly give priority to strengthening and reform institutions, such as UN, development banks and WTO. The United Nations needs to adapt to changing circumstances and the Nordic countries will work to secure solid financing for this reform process.

At this time of great uncertainty and global disruption we must work together, and we must take coordinated, decisive and innovative action. A united global response will need a strong UN at its centre, together with the multilateral development banks.

We would like to explore how we, together, can make the multilateral system better fit for achieving our common Sustainable Development Goals.