The statement that the year under review was a special one has never been truer than for 2020: a very exceptional year for every one of us. Just as we entered the Decade of Action, determined to accelerate progress towards the achievement of the 2030 Agenda, the COVID-19 pandemic gripped the world, causing widespread loss of life, human suffering and lost livelihoods. The progress made in the field of development over decades is likely to be undone, as hundreds of millions of people revert into poverty. The giant leap in digitalization that the world witnessed in learning, working, producing and connecting with others offered new opportunities, but also exposed new forms of inequalities, including the digital divide. Amid this dramatic socioeconomic situation, the world is moving closer and closer towards another existential threat: the climate catastrophe.
On the positive side, the challenges of 2020 renewed the global sense of solidarity and reminded that international cooperation and the institutions of the United Nations system, such as UNIDO, are critical to addressing global crises.
While continuing its mandated activities that by their nature address the socioeconomic challenges created by the pandemic, UNIDO took urgent action from February 2020 onwards to launch specific activities under the framework of “Responding to the crisis, building a better future”. Several of these initiatives are outlined in this report. UNIDO did not stop supporting its Member States, even during the most difficult times and despite travel restrictions and lockdowns.
The Organization continued to rely on the valuable guidance given by its Member States. The Abu Dhabi Declaration of 2019 provides the Organization with the compass to navigate towards 2030. It puts poverty eradication and the need to address climate change and environmental degradation at the forefront. It highlights the role of UNIDO in the Fourth Industrial Revolution and as a platform for private sector coordination.
The achievements outlined in this report have only been possible through the generous contributions and close cooperation of Member States and partners. This support for UNIDO will be critical, particularly in the near future, as we seek to overcome the ravages of COVID-19 and steer the world onto an environmentally sustainable, carbon-neutral path. Once the immediate health crisis subsides, economic recovery will be a priority with ISID a key tool to build a more inclusive, sustainable and resilient planet. This is our chance to get things right for the future.