The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) today called on countries to ensure that plans to recover from the pandemic support progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals and help solve the climate crisis.
“As the region’s economic engine restarts, we must recognize the need do things differently and seize key opportunities to shape the recovery as a truly green and sustainable transformation,” said Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP. “We can do this more effectively if we cooperate more closely to tackle systemic issues, build capacity, and replicate and scale up our successes.”
The remarks were made at an event hosted by ESCAP with the support of Fiji, Pakistan and the Philippines as part of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). Experts from governments, the private sector and civil society presented their perspectives on the challenges as well as opportunities the pandemic recovery process entails.
The discussions were framed by the four-point recovery agenda presented in the theme study for the 77th session of the Commission, Beyond the pandemic: Building back better from crises in Asia and the Pacific. That agenda called on countries to focus on broadening social protection, invest in a sustained recovery, strengthen connectivity and supply chains, and mend the broken relationship with nature.
Speaking at the event, the Fijian Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, the Hon. Mereseini Rakuita Vuniwaqa, emphasized the importance of strengthening social protection systems.
“COVID-19 has provided us with a unique opportunity to make our social protection systems more resilient and adaptable to the impact of crises of a magnitude we have never seen before,’ she said. “In building back better, the proposal to widen social protection by spending 2 to 6 per cent of GDP is a step in the right direction. If we are to leave no one behind, major investment in social protection is a must, particularly in a world where COVID-19 has amplified and exacerbated pre-existing inequalities in society .”
The HLPF is the United Nations central platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted in 2015. With this year’s Forum agenda strongly influenced by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, discussions revolved around ways to ensure a sustainable and resilient recovery that also puts countries on track to realize the 2030 Agenda.