Madam President, Members of the Executive Board, Excellencies, colleagues and friends, welcome to the annual session of the Executive Board in 2021. Today is an opportunity to look back at the year in which a tiny virus humbled the human race and ignited a development emergency.
Though its impacts were very differently felt, the COVID-19 pandemic was – and continues to be – a uniquely common experience for our generation, with no space for bystanders.
For the first time in thirty years, global human development tumbled backwards as people fought to save lives and livelihoods. The climate crisis deepened, despite a temporary dip in carbon emissions as the world hit ‘pause’. Some city streets stood empty while, elsewhere, crowds protested against inequality, racism and discrimination, calling for an end – once and for all – to these weapons of oppression.