Webinar: Building Resilient Societies post-COVID-19 in the Global South

Jul 8, 2020 | COVID-19, Events, Webinars

  • When: 16 July 2020, 8-9am EST / 2-3pm Johannesburg Time.
  • To join this webinar, please click here.

The United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation,  the African Peer Review Mechanism, the Permanent Mission of Uganda to the United Nations and the African Union, are co-organizing this webinar on Building Resilient Societies post-COVID-19 in the Global South, to be held during the 2020 High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.


In a short span of time, COVID-19 has shaken countries and diminished economic activities on a scale that is reminiscent of the 2008 global financial crisis. Forced to adjust its relatively upbeat economic forecast issued earlier this year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) already declared that the world will enter a recession as a result of COVID-19. Despite lockdowns, curfews, and other measures to curb its spread, the number of infections has passed the 10 million mark worldwide. The death toll has exceeded 500,000. In light of this extraordinarily challenging situation, ‘’resilience’’ is probably one of the most consulted terms in efforts to mitigate the COVID-19 impact and to rethink how countries of the South can rebuild stronger economies and societies in the mid and long terms.

COVID-19 and its negative impact on the Global South

The Global South with its limited health systems-hospital capacities including the ratio of doctors/inhabitants, available medicines and vital medical equipment such as ventilators and personal protective equipment is undoubtedly going to be immensely tested by a highly contagious virus which was characterized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 11 March 2020. While saving lives should receive most of the focus of governments, due consideration needs to be given to resuscitating economies to cushion the impact of COVID-19. In addition to regular hygiene keeping, social distancing has been recommended as the best way to keep COVID-19 at bay short of a vaccine whose potential development, licensing, and ultimately authorized commercialization is at least a year away.

However, social distancing is a luxury in the global South where numerous individuals rely on the informal economy for their income and sustenance.  The need for people to remain indoors to stave off COVID-19 will have a significant impact on food security as jobs are lost, and social protection is absent or very inadequate. Governments need to make sure that a health crisis does not turn into a food crisis and supply chains are not disrupted.

Several assessments of the damage that COVID-19 will cause have been made in the global South. According to the least bad projection, 122.8 million African people will suffer from contaminations, 2.3 million admissions to the hospital, and 300,000 deaths. On the African continent, between 5 and 29 million people could find themselves in extreme poverty, and 19 million jobs could be lost.

The way forward

In an economic environment marked by uncertainty and a certain sense of parochialism, the Global South ought to adopt resilience as an overarching policy. It is critical and possible to attenuate economic shocks while holding out for economic assistance and the cancellation of debt owed to International Financial Institutions. A paradigm shift needs to operate in the way in which the Global South devises its economic plans. Integrating the full scope of resilience as a concept- preparing for a crisis, mitigating its consequences, and adapting to new circumstances – will be paramount for reviving capital markets and flows, protecting the most vulnerable and developing a robust pipeline for post-crisis investments.

An organization can be seen as resilient when ‘’it can respond effectively to and withstand crises by managing any adverse impacts that might threaten its viability’’ (Drachal, 2017). COVID-19 will leave a lasting impact on the way we transact and live. In the future, it will be crucial to diversify economies and support their digitalization. Accelerating industrialization, increasing knowledge, and expanding trade among countries in the Global South becomes inevitable, given that the pandemic hit the developed world earlier. At present, the value of trade between African countries, for example, is below 20%, leaving the continent particularly vulnerable to possible economic downturn in China, the United States, and Europe, its biggest trading partners.

Medical diplomacy is a concept that has regained popularity amid the COVID-19 outbreak, as seen in Italy, the most affected European country. The fast spread of COVID-19 has made it clear that no country will be able to overcome COVID-19 alone. As the developed world approves large stimulus packages to protect businesses, the Global South is compelled to explore ways to increase solidarity and cooperation, which will set a standard for the world and for future health or humanitarian emergencies.

In the Buenos Aires outcome document of the second High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation ( A/RES/73/291) adopted in April 2019, the importance of South-South regional and interregional cooperation and triangular cooperation through innovative approaches for collective actions and multi-stakeholder partnerships, towards the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, have been highlighted.

Objectives of the side event

In collaboration with the UNOSSC, this joint event aims to bring together countries from Africa and other regions to discuss the following:

  • National responses to COVID-19 and its impact on economies of the Global South while concentrating on a humanitarian response to the crisis.
  • Encouraging the sharing of best practices in mitigating the pandemic,
  • Interrogating the role of governments and the private sector, evaluating the economic fallout from COVID-19 and analyzing the sustainability of national healthcare systems and resilient societies.
  • The need to bolster and leverage partnerships within the Global South, now more than ever, to face down an invisible but powerful foe.
  • Novel approaches to economic production and digitalization, supply chains, and trade relations are urgently needed. Building resilient economies that have the capacity to foresee and lessen turbulence and adapt to new trends is a task that policymakers would do well to embark on.


1- Welcoming remarks by Prof. Eddy Maloka, CEO, APRM, and Signing of Memorandum of Understanding between APRM and UNOSSC 2- Keynote Speech by Hon. Dr. Hala El-Said, Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Egypt 3- Global South and the response to the pandemic
  • Mr. Jorge Chediek, Director, UNOSSC and Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General on South-South Cooperation
4- Significance of South-South Cooperation in COVID-19 times
  • H.E. Dr. Adonia Ayebare, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Uganda to the United Nations and President of the High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation
5- National experiences in curbing the pandemic in uncertain times
  • Mr. Tshediso Matona, Director General, Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, South Africa
  • Ms. Angela Ospina de Nicholls, Director General, Presidential Agency for Cooperation, Colombia
  •  Mr. Tomoya Yoshida, Deputy Director General, Human Development Department, Japan International Cooperation Agency
6- Q&A Session and closing remarks by Mr. Tarik Iziraren, Deputy Director for Policy and Strategic Partnerships, UNOSSC