Latin America and the Caribbean are among the world regions worst affected by the COVID pandemic.
The numbers are staggering:
Economies have shrunk by 10 percent or more.
22 million people dropped below the poverty line last year alone.
And inequality is reaching levels that we have not seen in over a decade.
While vaccines can help us overcome the pandemic itself, we still need to find a cure for its economic and social side effects.
Otherwise, not just the development gains of the past could be erased. The stability of entire countries could be at stake.
This is why we have been supporting our friends in Latin America and the Caribbean from the very beginning of the pandemic:
By sending medical teams and equipment and by launching a Pandemic Dialogue.
But first and foremost through COVAX, the platform for global access to vaccines, to which we are the second biggest donor.
Because we believe that this global crisis calls for a global answer.
Ladies and gentlemen,
This is the moment for multilateralism to deliver.
Over 12 million doses have already been distributed to the region through COVAX. Millions more are in the pipeline, in order to reach our big goal of providing at least two billion doses globally by the end of this year.
At the same time, we need to address the economic and social side effects. This is where the OECD comes in.
Its regional programme can provide the necessary technical expertise, statistical data and tailor-made information for a sustainable recovery.
And I am glad to announce that Germany will be supporting a project looking at shortfalls in primary healthcare in Latin America and the Caribbean during the pandemic – in order to be better prepared for future health emergencies.
It is thanks to programmes like this that the OECD has built a reputation of providing the gold standard in economic policy advice.
This reputation – and with this I will conclude – is also the fruit of your efforts, Secretary-General Gurría. You have led the organisation for 15 years. And throughout this time, you have pursued the vision of a more just and inclusive global economy.
It is with this vision in mind that we will recover from the crisis – and build back better.
Thank you very much!