At the Bloomberg New Economy Forum

Remarks by His Majesty King Abdullah II

At the Bloomberg New Economy Forum

16 November 2020
(Via teleconference)

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful,

Dear friends,

It is my pleasure to join you at this global forum, and to be part of your insightful discussions during such a monumental period in our modern history.

As you have been discussing in today’s sessions, the COVID-19 pandemic and its repercussions have brought about transformations to our world that come but once every few generations.

This is indeed a wake-up call. It shows us that we need each other. It shows us that all life is precious. It shows us that one country’s problem is every country’s problem. We cannot simply choose to close our eyes and ears to the world, and expect to survive this unharmed.

Instead of turning our backs on years of international connectivity, imperfect though it may be, we are better served fortifying the foundations of our global system, and looking at ways to improve, and re-globalise our world.

COVID has given us the rare opportunity to do that—to look at how we can make our world better and more resilient against current and future crises, including the ever-present impact of climate change.

Three immediate areas of concern demand our attention—improving access to healthcare, enhancing food security, and nurturing innovation to catalyse recovery.

My friends,

The pandemic has shown us how connected we truly are. Before it, we are all equal. No one is immune. So let’s use our connectivity to fight back, by ensuring the efficient distribution of vaccines and treatments. The vaccine, after all, must be treated as a global public good.

For our part, we are ready to deploy Jordan’s pharmaceutical industry, in service of this mission, to guarantee that the vaccine is produced and distributed sufficiently, especially to the most vulnerable communities, such as refugees and families living in poverty.

Another issue that we must address is food security. The number of people at risk of hunger is expected to rise to 265 million this year, due to the economic impact of the pandemic, an increase of 130 million.

Easing access to modern agricultural technology, especially for farmers in developing countries, is key to improving the quality and availability of food.

The agri-food sector in Jordan, for example, supports the livelihoods of about a quarter of the population. It is one of the largest sources of employment for working-age refugees and women in rural communities. And since the onset of the pandemic, it has proven its strong position on the global supply chain. With additional investment and increased reliance on technology, there is room for substantial growth.

Indeed, technology has the potential to boost our global path to recovery post-COVID.

One of the bright spots of our pandemic response has been seeing young Jordanians rise to the occasion, and come up with innovative digital solutions, in record time, to bolster our resilience, in healthcare, education, and e-commerce, while also offering services to others in the region.

This is why empowering and investing in SMEs, by facilitating their access to finance, technology, and markets, is a must, as we work towards inclusive growth and recovery.

My friends,

COVID-19 has upended our world. Over 1 million precious lives have been lost. Families in every country have lost loved ones to this pandemic. Millions have lost their sources of livelihood.

At this forum, I urge you to think of them. Too often, we lose ourselves in the technicalities, the policies, the numbers. As you look at ways to rebuild a more resilient, inclusive world, remember to put people at the heart of your discussions.

I wish you every success.