The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and Parliamentarians for the Global Goals (PfGG) have launched the Parliamentary Leadership for the 2030 Agenda webinar series to support parliamentarians with scientific evidence for decision making. This series is meant to serve as a forum for peer-to-peer learning, mutual inspiration and exchange of best practices that can galvanize more political action on the SDGs.

The first webinar took place on February 15, 2021 where parliamentarians convened for a high-level dialogue on the COVID-19 response. In order to build back better, the active engagement of parliamentarians is crucial due to their key role in voicing the needs and demands of their constituents, while approving laws and deciding on budgets that prioritize an inclusive and sustainable recovery.

Jeffrey Sachs, President of SDSN, opened the session by providing the economic perspective of recovering from the pandemic. Mobilizing resources for vaccinations, test kits, health workers, and social services were named as top priorities. The recovery must be equitable as well. It must be ensured that countries that don’t have the same borrowing power as wealthier nations still have the resources they need. Sachs gave several recommendations for improving access to resources, including a new allocation of special drawing rights at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), increased capital fund for the multilateral development banks, and debt relief for heavily indebted developing countries.

The event then moved to an expert panel:

  • Dr. Peter Hotez, Co-Chair, Lancet COVID-19 Commission Task Force on COVID-19 Vaccines and Therapeutics
  • Dr. Ricardo Baptista Leite, Founder and President, UNITE and Member of the Portuguese Parliament
  • Mr. Kilian Kleinschmidt, Founder and Chairman, IPA | switxboard
  • Ms. Gabriela Cuevas, Co-Chair, UHC2030 Steering Committee

You can find the expert presentations here.

Dr. Hotez gave an overview of the current vaccine landscape across the globe. The new spike protein mutants, such as what we are seeing in the United Kingdom and South Africa, are having a large impact. As vaccines around the world move through their testing stages and we narrow the pool, there are few choices and not a lot of funding to scale them up. He also emphasized the need to discuss the global anti-science banner that quickly got tied to extreme politicism. Dr. Baptista Leite gave recommendations on what parliamentarians can do at the local level, such as ensuring essential medicines are delivered. There has been discussion that the SDGs are no longer achievable given the set back this pandemic has imposed; however, Leite argued that the SDGs have never been more important than they are now as they guide parliamentarians through the recovery. Mr. Kleinschmidt focused on the people and the impacts they have felt from COVID-19. He gave clear direction: parliamentarians need to come together and communicate a way forward, loudly and clearly, to their constituents. Lastly, we heard from Ms. Cuevas who focused on SDG indicators 3.8.1 (coverage of essential health services) and 3.8.2 (proportion of population with large household expenditures on health as a share of total household expenditure or income) and why they promote the case for Universal Health Coverage (UHC). She called on parliamentarians to commit to UHC stating, “If we do not make a significant change in access to health care, five billion people we will be left behind by 2030, five billion people will not have access to healthcare.”

Ms. Kirsten Brosbøl, Founder of PfGG, led the hour long discussion following the presentations. Representatives from Turkey, Mexico, Bangladesh, Azerbaijan, the Philippines, Pakistan, Serbia, Zimbabwe, and India provided updates on where their nations stand in vaccine distribution and shared lessons learned and best practices when it comes to educating and raising awareness amongst their citizens on vaccine safety. There was a strong consensus that this pandemic is an opportunity to expand science to science policy and the need to separate the realism from all of the noise that is out there. The event closed with a hopeful message from Ms. Brosbøl, “Let’s not shy away from the ambitious agenda we’ve set for ourselves. This is the time to stick together as a global community and insist that we leave no one behind.” 

__ by Cheyenne Maddox, SDSN Network

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N: Kirsten Brosbøl


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