UN: Global economic recovery remains precarious, rebound of 4.7% to barely offset 2020 losses


The United Nations today warned that the devastating socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will be felt for years to come unless smart investments in economic, societal and climate resilience ensure a robust and sustainable recovery of the global economy.

In 2020, the world economy shrank by 4.3 per cent, over two and half times more than during the global financial crisis of 2009. The modest recovery of 4.7 per cent expected in 2021 would barely offset the losses of 2020, says the latest World Economic Situation and Prospects.

The report underscores that sustained recovery from the pandemic will depend not only on the size of the stimulus measures, and the quick rollout of vaccines, but also on the quality and efficacy of these measures to build resilience against future shocks.

“We are facing the worst health and economic crisis in 90 years. As we mourn the growing death toll, we must remember that the choices we make now will determine our collective future,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who will address the Davos Agenda event later today. 

“Let’s invest in an inclusive and sustainable future driven by smart policies, impactful investments, and a strong and effective multilateral system that places people at the heart of all socio-economic efforts.”   

Developed economies, projected to see a 4 per cent output growth in 2021, shrank the most in 2020, by 5.6 per cent, due to economic shutdowns and subsequent waves of the pandemic, increasing the risk of premature austerity measures that would only derail recovery efforts globally. Developing countries saw a less severe contraction at 2.5 per cent, with an expected rebound of 5.6 per cent in 2021, according to the estimates presented in the report.

The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs says that 131 million more people were pushed into poverty in 2020, many of them women, children and people from marginalized communities. The pandemic has adversely affected women and girls disproportionately, exposing them to increased risk of economic devastation, poverty, violence and illiteracy.