Second Committee Debate
of the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly
on Agenda Item 18: Macroeconomic Policy Questions
New York, October 13, 2021
The main goal of macroeconomic policy is to promote sustainable and inclusive economic growth, fair international trade and the participation of all countries, notably developing countries, in the global economy. To this list must also be added the conditions for economic recovery in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a recovery that must be local, national and global to regain lost ground in the progress already made towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Progress on macroeconomic policy is, however, not a matter solely of financial advancement, greater profits and funding to recover businesses and economies. It must involve efforts aimed at authentic long-term sustainability and integral human development. The work of this Committee on macroeconomic policy questions should, therefore, ponder the ethical implications of development carefully, in order to achieve economic prosperity for all, allowing every person to thrive and for all Countries to live in peace and stability.
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, economic recovery must also include the consideration of external factors and risks that can affect the economy nationally and internationally. The impact of weak healthcare systems and fragmented health financing, for example, has become tragically obvious during the pandemic and poses grave risks to human life and to our economies. When precarious healthcare systems hamper pandemic response, public life, including the economy, grind to a halt. Equitable access to quality healthcare to fight the pandemic, along with the financing and investment necessary to make that possible, are crucial in dealing with both this crisis and any future health crises.
The economies of developing Countries have been hardest hit by the pandemic because they do not have the resources needed to respond on a large scale. If significant progress is to be made in eradicating poverty, improving the productive capabilities of the least developed countries is required. This is not merely a matter of financing: the UNCTADLeast Developed Countries Report 2020shows that the biggest gaps between developed and least developed countries (LDCs) are found in human capital and institutions. Progress in development needs, to focus on investing in people and communities, in an approach that promotes integral human development. Too often investment in the LDCs is directed towards the extraction of natural resources, often with little concrete benefit to the local populations and leading to detrimental impact on the environment.
While developed Countries have been able to fend off a financial crisis, developing and Least Developed Countries have fallen further into debt and poverty. This year’s report on external debt sustainability and development has found that indicators point to “growing risks of external insolvency in the coming years.” We need to work hard to ensure that the pandemic is not followed by a long-term and devastating financial crisis.
As Pope Francis recently emphasized, this requires “a spirit of global solidarity also demands at the least a significant reduction in the debt burden of the poorest nations, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic. Relieving the burden of debt of so many countries and communities today, is a profoundly human gesture that can help people to develop, to have access to vaccines, health, education and jobs.”
In rebuilding in the wake of the pandemic, our goal should not be a simple return to past practices, especially those that exclude the poor from the benefits of economic activity. Instead, the Holy See would like to take this opportunity to emphasize the need to redouble our efforts in the elimination of corruption, as was highlighted by the 32nd Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGASS), held in June this year. Any form of corruption, in fact, hinders macroeconomic growth and recovery and makes economic access even harder for the poor.
'Thank you, Madam Chair.
Pope Francis, Letter to the Participants in the 2021 Spring Meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund, 5-11 April 2021.