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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

08 September 2021



Ladies and gentlemen,   

I would like to extend my gratitude for being asked to speak at this International Conference on Nation-Building.  

Since we met last year, the COVID-19 pandemic has entered its second year.  Nations continue to grapple with the devastating consequences of the coronavirus, especially with new variants.  

It is clear that in our effort to manage and come out of the pandemic, we need to create a future growth model which is more resilient to shocks by focusing on the quality of economic growth and its integration with social development and environmental sustainability objectives​.   

This will involve transforming the economies to make growth more inclusive, resilient and sustainable while harnessing the power of digitalization for good while mitigating any negative aspects. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has starkly exposed the inequalities between, and within, countries in access to vaccines, medicines and diagnostics. As the world races to cope with the pandemic through the development of vaccines and therapeutics, a new form of inequity is emerging and the need for additional financial resources, tools and mechanisms is inevitable. 

I would like to suggest we focus on three core areas of inclusiveness, resilience, and sustainability for the post-pandemic recovery and beyond. 

First, building more inclusive societies. We must ensure continuity in fiscal and financial support for vulnerable groups and hardest-hit businesses until a robust recovery. Countries need to promote an employment-led recovery and invest in strategic industries and infrastructure as well as the people. Structural reforms are also needed to ensure that social spending such as in health system is inclusive and progressive. 

Second, building more resilient economies. Building the resilience is a prerequisite for addressing not only the vulnerabilities but also inequalities and poverty. Disaster and pandemic preparedness in a holistic sense would build health system resilience and strengthen social protection as well as reduce disaster risk. Building resilience in regional value chains, trade and connectivity could ensure that the region is better prepared for future pandemics, disasters and shocks.  

Third, building more sustainable environment. Long-term environmental sustainability must be embedded in the COVID-19 policy response as well as incorporated into business investment processes and analyses. Opening up the fiscal space including through green and sustainable financing instruments and through sustainable foreign direct investment and official development assistance will be imperative to achieve the sustainable development goals. 

Digitalization is fundamental for achieving inclusive, resilient and sustainable development and must be mainstreamed to support these core areas to recover better together.  Digitalization now should be applied with a view to bringing services, notably health and education services to all, and achieving durable and sustainable connectivity and a climate- and nature-centred development. Towards that end, achieving universal access to affordable and reliable broadband Internet is the essential condition. 

Excellencies, Ladies, and gentlemen,   

Together, we can reinvigorate our institutions to develop innovative strategies for crisis recovery and nation-building to ensure that no person or country is left behind. These institutions and strategies are essential building blocks for a strong, multilateral system to achieve sustainable development and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic better. 

ESCAP, along with the UN system, stands ready to continue and deepen collaboration with all relevant stakeholders in all member States in re-building our nations back better in the post-COVID-19 era.  

I wish you a very successful event. 

Thank you very much. 

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