Good morning, Excellencies, Distinguished Colleagues.
I join Ambassador Cho in welcoming you in today’s discussion.
I thank you, Ambassador Cho, for setting the stage for our discussion today with your usual eloquence.
Ambassador Cho mentioned the Academy Award winning movie ‘Parasite’. It dealt with the cruelty of inequalities in our societies.
Just one year later, the Covid-19 pandemic hit us. And it put a spotlight on this dark issue in ways that we could not even imagine or wanted to admit.
Even before the pandemic, inequality was deeply entrenched within and between our societies.
There are many dimensions of inequalities beyond income. Every day we come across inequality between genders, ethnicity, race, religion, and those rooted in deeply entrenched customs and social mores. It is about opportunities, access, rights, or lack of that which leads to inequality.
Let me highlight a few points for further reflection by our distinguished panelists:
First, the Covid-19 pandemic is plunging millions into poverty. For the first time this century, we are experiencing a rising trend in extreme poverty. Perhaps it’s time for a new paradigm that would address poverty and income inequality in a holistic manner.
The pandemic has hit the poorest and most vulnerable segment of the societies the hardest. While the richest countries in the world have already rolled out major stimulus packages for their businesses and citizens, the poorer countries are being plunged into debt crisis. And this is going to widen the inequalities further in our societies.
Second, inequality is a multidimensional and complex issue. It cannot be ascertained by economic indicators like GDP growth rate alone. There are many faces of inequality both within and across societies.
Inequality cannot be addressed in a vacuum. SDG-10 has deep inter-linkages with other SDGs, such as, poverty eradication, gender equality, health, job creation etc. We need a holistic approach to realize an equal and just world where no one will be left behind.
Finally, as we endeavor to recover from the pandemic, we must ensure access to Covid-19 vaccine for everyone, everywhere. Universal vaccination will be the key to help the global economy rebound back to its 2019 level. The major impediment, however, is the growing “vaccine divides” between advanced and poorer economies, which would only compound the prevailing inequality in our recovery efforts.
I rest it here. We have an expert panel to delve deep into some of these issues.