Study proposes post-pandemic plan

A study has proposed a five-point policy agenda for members of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (E.S.C.A.P) to rebuild after the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report “Beyond the pandemic: Building back better from crisis in Asia and the Pacific” was published in March this year and analyses the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic in the region and offers recommendations for building back better. 

“Governments across the region have responded to the unprecedented situation created by the COVID-19 outbreak and worked hard to curb the fallout. Most have concentrated on short-term measures,” the report states. 

“But if economies are to recover faster and in a more inclusive way they must also aim for long-term sustainability – restoring ecosystems, reducing poverty and building resilience throughout the region." 

According to the report, to enable member States of the E.S.C.A.P to build back better, the study proposes a five-point policy agenda which are: Enhance regional cooperation; Build universal social protection along the life course; Investing in sustained economy; Promote trade facilitation, digitalization, and harmonization, and fully embed social and environmental concerns into global supply chains, and Safeguard environmental health.

For the first point “Enhance regional cooperation” the report proposes to establish or mobilise existing sectoral mechanisms to help governments recover from this pandemic and plan for future crises, while dealing with climate change and taking into account population ageing, and technological innovation and new forms of work. 

The report explains in the second point “Build universal social protection along the life course” that "embed social protection in national development agendas and allocate the necessary resources.” 

“As a basis for leaving no one behind, governments should use a mix of contributory and non-contributory benefit schemes. They will also need to expand social protection to embrace informal workers and ensure that women and vulnerable population groups are sufficiently covered,” the report states. 

According to the report, investing in a sustained socio-economic recovery aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals will require additional financial resources.

“To support long-term, resilient, inclusive and sustainable development, countries can reorient spending away from non-developmental areas, consider tax reforms to mitigate inequalities and support the climate agenda, and explore innovative financing instruments. They can also advocate for further debt relief measures and accelerate efforts to combat tax evasion through regional and international cooperation,” the report states. 

The fourth point on the five-point policy agenda is to promote trade facilitation, digitalization, and harmonization, and fully embed social and environmental concerns into global supply chains, which is to resist protectionist actions and forge regional solidarity to arrive at proportionate trade responses.

“Mobilize regional transport cooperation instruments for emergency use of cross-border freight,” the report states.

“Decarbonize production and shift to more sustainable and lower-carbon, multimodal freight transport. Increase support for trade facilitation, trade digitalization and the development of paperless and contactless trade.

“Accelerate investment in digitalization and broadband connectivity. Improve the efficiency and sustainability of trade and transport procedures through regionally coordinated investments in hard and soft infrastructure.”

The last point “Safeguard environmental health” a regional agenda for planetary health is to be adopted, bringing in all relevant actors to implement the institutional, structural, economic, and behavioural changes needed to better manage human and environmental health.

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