Framework: Socio-Economic COVID-19 Response

Content Manager • 4 August 2020

    This report sets out the framework for the United Nations’ urgent socio-economic support to countries and societies in the face of COVID-19, putting in practice the UN Secretary-General’s Shared Responsibility, Global Solidarity report on the same subject. It is one of three critical components of the UN’s efforts to save lives, protect people, and rebuild better, alongside the health response, led by the World Health Organization (WHO), and the humanitarian response, as detailed in the UN-led COVID- 19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan.

      During the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014, more people died from the interruption of social services and economic breakdown than from the virus itself. This should not have happened, and the world cannot let it happen again. As the world enters the deepest global recession since the Great Depression, we need to connect health needs to social, economic and environmental well-being, linking the present to the future.

     We are all interconnected and need borderless solidarity. People everywhere must have access to social services and social protection; jobs, businesses and livelihoods must be protected; and a safe and equitable recovery of societies and economies must be set in motion as soon as possible, with the long-term goal of directing economies along a sustainable, gender-equal, and carbon-neutral trajectory. Failure to do so will multiply and prolong suffer- ing amongst the world’s most vulnerable people.

    This socio-economic response framework consists of five streams of work – an integrated support package offered by the United Nations Development System (UNDS) to protect the needs and rights of people living under the duress of the pandemic, with particular focus on the most vulnerable countries, groups, and people who risk being left behind.

   The five streams of work that constitute this package include: 1. ensuring that essential health services are still available and protecting health systems; 2. helping people cope with adversity, through social protection and basic services; 3. protecting jobs, supporting small and medium-sized enterprises, and informal sector workers through economic response and recovery programmes; 4. guiding the necessary surge in fiscal and financial stimulus to make macroeconomic policies work for the most vulnerable and strengthening multilateral and regional responses; and 5. promoting social cohesion and investing in community-led resilience and response systems. These five streams are connected by a strong environmental sustainability and gen- der equality imperative to build back better.

   To support Member States on this response, the UNDS is switching to emergency mode. A significant proportion of the UN’s exist- ing US$17.8 billion portfolio of sustainable development programmes across all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be adjusted and expanded towards COVID- 19 related needs. Repurposing and repro- gramming efforts have already started, in close collaboration with programme coun- tries, donors and partners, without losing sight of the promise of the 2030 Agenda.

    Given the scale and scope of the socio-eco- nomic impact of COVID-19, additional resources nevertheless will be required. Investments in these five streams of work, complementing the UN’s health and humanitarian response, are investments in resilience and in the recognition embodied in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that all life on this planet is interconnected. This socio-economic package of support recognizes that the response to this pandemic must accelerate rather than under- mine decarbonization, protect the natural capital, build resilient cities, and ensure social equality, inclusion, and the realization of human rights for everyone, the rule of law and accountable, capable governments and institutions.

    The heart of the response lies at the national and sub-national level, using existing struc- tures. The collective know-how of the United Nations’ 131 Country Teams – serving 162 countries and territories – is being mobilized to implement this framework over the next 12 to 18 months. This is undertaken under the leadership of the UN Resident Coordinators, with support from UNDP as technical lead, drawing from a network of global and regional expertise and the UN Country Teams working as one across all facets of the response.

“Let’s not forget this is essentially a human crisis. Most fundamentally, we need to focus on people – the most vulnerable.”

UN Secretary-General’s Call for Solidarity


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Photo credit: UNDP Bangladesh