Statement by Ambassador Rabab Fatima, Permanent representative of Bangladesh to the UN at the General Discussion at the 60th Commission for Social Development, 10 February 2022

Madam Chair,

I warmly congratulate you and the bureau on your election. You can count on my delegation’s full support in the commission’s work this year.

We align ourselves with the statement of Group of 77 and China.

Madam Chair,

Today, more than 725 million people live in extreme poverty around the world.  And, 2.37 billion people are without food or unable to eat a healthy diet on a regular basis.

The pandemic has made it worse. Additional 20 million people have been pushed into extreme poverty in 2021 alone. The job market is facing its worst slump of our time. Migrants and informal workers are particularly hit. Pre-existing inequalities have been exacerbated. The poorest and the most vulnerable, including women, children, older persons, and persons with disabilities continue to struggle to sustain their livelihoods.

In the midst of this grim realities, the focus of this year’s priority theme – ‘eradicating poverty and hunger in all its forms and dimensions’ could not have been timelier.

We thank the Secretary General for his informative report and useful recommendations.

Madam Chair,

Eradicating poverty and hunger by 2030 would require an inclusive recovery strategy, tailored to the specific needs and context of individual countries.

In Bangladesh, thanks to the pragmatic leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the impacts of the pandemic have been much less than feared. Our approach to fighting Covid-19 was to balance between lives and livelihoods. The government adopted a “No One Will Go Hungry” policy that offered relief to the ultra-poor, the disabled, older people, returnee migrants, and impoverished women.

We expanded the social protection coverage. Cash assistance was provided to nearly 40 million people, covering a quarter of the population. ‘Special Open Market Sales (OMS) programme and Food Friendly Programme (FFP) were launched to distribute rice & other food items to poor people at lower cost.

Total 28 separate stimulus packages worth 22.1 billion US dollars were launched. The Government provided temporary interest-free loan to pay wages, and allowances in enterprises that export 80% of their production to protect jobs and employment. A 30-million-dollar refinance scheme was implemented for low-income groups, farmers, and small businesses to support income-generating activities.

Madam Chair,

While national efforts are important, for a sustainable and globally inclusive recovery, there is no alternative to collective actions.

Allow me to make some specific points:

First: The pandemic has created ‘new poor’ in our societies. It is estimated that, without decisive actions, the number of people living in extreme poverty would reach 600 million in 2030.

To reverse the trend, we need to ensure that the COVID 19 recovery strategies are made integral parts of SDGs. The developing countries need USD 3.3 to 4.5 trillion dollars per year to achieve SDGs on time. We need to overhaul global financial system to ensure that all countries have sufficient fiscal space to invest in people and resilience.

Second: The pandemic has exacerbated pre-exiting inequality and deprivation on multiple fronts. We need a human-centered recovery that addresses inequality. We should renew the social contract so that everyone, everywhere has access to basic human rights and opportunities, reinvigorate our action on decent work and provide social protection to the most vulnerable.

Third: To ensure sustainable livelihood & wellbeing, we need to ensure equal access to quality education and health-care services. During the pandemic, half of world’s children were affected by school closure. While developed countries could swiftly adapt to online education, those in developing countries fell behind due to lack of resources and technologies.

We must invest in closing digital divide and building sustainable and inclusive education and health infrastructure.

Fourth: The pandemic has increased gender gap in poverty and hunger. Many women – especially those employed in informal sector lost their income. In Bangladesh the government took targeted measures to address this challenge, which include, special allocations for women-led SME sector; skill development projects, and interest-free mortgage and loan facilities for women entrepreneurs.

We need greater global efforts to bridge this gender gap, including by ensuring women’s full and equal participation in all recovery efforts.

Fifth: Without urgent action, climate change could push an additional 100 million people into poverty. Covid-19 recovery measures must complement climate actions and disaster risk reduction to create stronger resilience. Climate vulnerable countries, specially LDCs and SIDs need enhanced financing and immediate technology transfer to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change.

Sixth: People living in conflict zones are doubly affected by the pandemic and more prone to poverty & hunger. We must demonstrate greater compassion and solidarity to support people living in protracted humanitarian situations, and reinforce our efforts to eliminate the root causes of conflicts.

Finally, Madam Chair: The pandemic has shown us the imperativeness of partnership and solidarity. And at the heart of the solidarity lies ‘vaccine equity’.

We need to close “Vaccines Divides” by ensuring safe and affordable Covid-19 vaccines for everyone, everywhere. We must not fail our shared vision to vaccinate at least 70 per cent of the world’s population by the middle of this year. We reiterate our call for immediate transfer of vaccines’ technologies to the developing countries.

With this, I would rest it here.

I thank you, madam chair.