Speech by Commissioner Urpilainen at the EU Side-Event at United Nations High Level Political Forum: “The SDGs as the Compass for Recovering After the Pandemic and Building Forward Better” - 14/07/2021

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Distinguished guests and participants. I would like to thank all the previous speakers for their useful insights.

In my intervention, I will focus on the EU’s global response for a sustainable and resilient recovery with partner countries.

We have already heard about the negative impact of COVID-19 on SDG implementation and that the EU is fully committed to accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The SDGs are the EU’s compass in charting a sustainable path out of the current crisis. Fighting inequalities and leaving no-one behind is central in the post-COVID-19 recovery to ensure equality and dignity for all.

The measures put in place within Europe to support the recovery are in many ways mirrored in our partnerships abroad, in support of a global recovery that links investment and debt relief with the implementation of the SDGs. Our actions support a digital, inclusive, just, green and resilient recovery.

Let me set out a few key actions.

Our initial support to partner countries to address the impact of COVID was rapid and substantial. Together with EU Member States and European development banks, acting as Team Europe, we provided over EUR 40 billion to address the crisis. This includes over EUR 3 billion to COVAX in support of solidarity on access to safe and affordable medicines and vaccines.

With this Team Europe approach we can scale up our impact and promote strategic change, which supports a sustainable recovery guided by the SDGs.

The COVID pandemic has also demonstrated the need to address global challenges at the multilateral level, with the UN at its core. We fully support the measures to address debt and liquidity challenges through the G20 and the IMF and will work multilaterally to ensure that relief measures benefit the poorest and most vulnerable countries.

We are now just at the start of a new seven-year programming period for our international cooperation. At the core of our work will be our direct cooperation with partner countries to improve the lives of their citizens. The health crisis will continue to be a major focus. We will build future resilience by promoting capacity to manufacture vaccines and medicines, particularly in Africa. But we will also support partners in education, social protection and gender equality.  Our actions focus on key priorities such as green recovery, human development, growth and jobs, migration and governance. These directly support the implementation of the SDGs in our partner countries.

We are working to boost the levels of private investment directed at sustainable recovery in the poorest countries. Our new EU international cooperation instrument, NDICI-Global Europe, will leverage public and private finance for sustainable recovery, in line with the SDGs and the Paris Agreement.  

This includes fostering the right environments for investment. We work with partner governments to develop their public financial management capacities, including debt management as well as domestic resource mobilisation

We are also working on structural measures to promote sustainable investments. Our intention is to explore the potential of sustainability-related financial instruments.

So we are doing a lot. But clearly we need to do much more collectively, so that the COVID recovery is accelerating the implementation of the SDGs. The pandemic has shown how all challenges are closely interlinked, and how the precondition for resilience is sustainability. This High Level Political Forum is the linchpin in our global engagement. We must all use it to drive a step change in our approach.

Thank you.