Published 2021
Whither global public goods? No one is safe until everyone is safe
By John Hendra and Silke Weinlich

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only reinforced the importance of agreeing that certain critical global public goods (GPGs) should be available to everyone, everywhere, it has highlighted the spectacular failure of many countries – including those that have long advocated for provision of GPGs – to look beyond their own borders and ensure a fairer, more multilateral, GPG-centred normative approach.

In this context, the relevant GPGs are those concerning public health in general and, more specifically, equitable access to COVID-19 drugs, diagnostics and vaccines. This article looks at the current status of the GPGs debate and what the UN’s role is in the context of data and monitoring, catalysing action and ensuring funding.

The authors argue that the multitude of challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as from current global warming levels and the need for greater climate action, has brought renewed focus on the concept of GPGs – especially the devastating impacts that can result when they are severely underprovided for.