The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly cast a long shadow globally with unprecedented socioeconomic disruptions most acutely felt by vulnerable sectors across societies. In the Asia-Pacific region, the 2021 Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific (Survey 2021) indicated that slow regional progress in implementing the transformative 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has exacerbated the vulnerability to shocks such as the COVID-19 pandemic. While governments have developed a broad range of policy responses, there are opportunities to use these policies to not only mitigate immediate adverse impacts from the pandemic but also to strengthen pandemic preparedness and resilience in the future.
To this end, the Survey 2021 emphasized that, in going forward, countries should prioritize a better alignment of the COVID-19 recovery packages with the 2030 Agenda. The proposed “building forward better” policy package has several dimensions, covering social services, digital access, and green development. The Survey 2021 also reinforced a key message that while available policy options are vast and diverse, countries in the Asia-Pacific need to focus on the options that leverage their strengths and are implementable given their institutional capacity.
It in this context, a South-East Asia Policy Dialogue is being organised. Countries in the subregion have taken steps to build more resilient and sustainable economies going into the post-pandemic recovery phase, with differentiated strategies in line with their national priorities. There is also strong commitment to pursue multilateral cooperation recognizing that transboundary issues remain.
The policy dialogue aims to inform stakeholders on the policy packages of South-East Asian economies to build more resilient and sustainable economies. In particular, acknowledging the differentiated strategies across countries, country experiences will highlight the different dimensions of the “building forward better” package. Potentials for regional cooperation and collaboration will be given focus.
Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2021: Towards post-COVID-19 resilient economies