The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and building back better highlight the importance of a long-term strategy for industrialization, innovation, digitalization and the creation of resilient infrastructure. This strategy is vital to achieving all 2030 Agenda Goals. Economies with a diversified industrial sector and strong infrastructure better weathered the economic impacts of COVID-19 and recovered faster than other economies.
The effects of the pandemic were highly heterogeneous across sectors, firms and workers, both globally and in Asia and the Pacific. The most vulnerable were small and medium enterprises, sectors highly integrated into global or regional value chains, and firms and workers in the informal economy. Women, youth and low-skilled workers suffered the most severe losses.
Although economic activity in the region has quickly recovered, reaching its highest growth rate since 2010 in 2021, recovery remains incomplete and uneven, impacting progress towards SDG 9. Except for significant advances in two targets (9.a and 9.c), other areas are lagging. Countries in Asia and the Pacific must implement actions to accelerate progress on these targets, particularly those relating to manufacturing employment, transition to higher-technology industrial sectors and research and development (R&D) activity (9.2, 9.5, 9.b). Better and more disaggregated data are also needed to guide and monitor policies to improve infrastructure, promote innovation and enhance green and inclusive industrialization.