What a difference a year makes! I still remember the vibe and the excitement of our first broad ministerial meeting at UN headquarters twelve months ago.
Since then, the COVID 19 pandemic has turned the world upside down.
As you probably know, I am speaking to you from quarantine at my home, as I recently had contact with an infected person – that’s life in times of corona. But with rising infection numbers in Europe and other parts of the world, we need to stay vigilant. The pandemic is far from over.
And indeed, COVID-19 has confirmed what the Alliance for Multilateralism is all about:
No country alone can win the fight against the pandemic – or against climate change. We need to join forces.
In this spirit, we have launched a series of initiatives to “build back better”:
• Firstly, we are promoting equal global access to COVID 19 treatment and vaccines. The “ACT Accelerator”, established by the WHO, and COVAX, its vaccination pillar, remain crucial in this regard. We will hear more about this later.
• Secondly, we are addressing the root causes of infectious diseases. One of them is the degradation of ecosystems, which fosters the transmission of coronavirus, but also of HIV and Ebola.
Full implementation of the Berlin Principles, adopted at the “One Planet, One Health, One Future” conference last year, therefore remains key.
• Thirdly, the virus has exacerbated the challenges we are facing in the digital world. Secretary General Guterres has presented a Roadmap for Digital Cooperation.
Germany and the United Arab Emirates are supporting this initiative with proposals regarding the future of digital cooperation.
• Finally, we must make sure that gender equality does not fall victim to the pandemic. Gender based disparities in terms of income, health or security are on the rise.
Therefore, Germany is a strong supporter of the COVID 19 emergency window of the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund.
The pandemic could leave our international system even more fractured – with countries competing over vaccines and medicines.
Or it could lead to more international cooperation – for example, if we manage to make coronavirus vaccines available for all of humanity.
The choice is ours.
And our choice is clear: multilateral cooperation remains the foundation of peace, prosperity and justice.
That was true when we first met one year ago.
And it is even truer today.
Thank you and stay healthy!