COVID-19 tests the UN’s response to development challenges

UN Monitor #15

By Elena Marmo

Across the UN System, all hands are on deck to address the impact of COVID-19 from immediate humanitarian and health needs, to medium and longer-term socio-economic policy. Various initiatives are circling one another, raising issues of governance, reporting and accountability. Member States in the ECOSOC Operational Activities Segment explored some of these questions as they related to the UN Development System (UNDS), while in the 28 May and 2 June meetings on Financing for Development they also explored policy ideas, with an emphasis on accounting for vulnerability in macroeconomic analysis.

Speaking at the ECOSOC session, the Secretary-General addressed the need to re-think approaches to economic analysis:

“Traditionally all economic analysis and all development analysis have been based on a number of macro-economic indicators and essentially on GDP. And so it is GDP that classifies countries based on GDP, that policies are discussed or adopted. And it’s time to recognize that this is a very poor way to look into a very much more complex reality…there is a key concept, which is the concept of vulnerability.”