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Building Forward Together: Towards an inclusive and resilient Asia and the Pacific

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Afghanistan
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Introduction

This report, released two years after COVID-19 began spreading around the world, considers how countries have been responding to this complex and still evolving pandemic, and highlights key elements of a forward-looking policy agenda aimed at putting countries on a path to longer-term recovery that is inclusive, resilient and aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It expands on themes of inequality and systemic vulnerabilities discussed in the 2021 SDG Partnership Report: Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic: Leaving no country behind.

Chapter 1 highlights the economic, social and environmental vulnerabilities and inequalities that the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed in the region, and the associated risks to a recovery that leaves no one behind. This includes a particular focus on SDG 4 (quality education), 5 (gender equality), 14 (life below water) and 15 (life on land), to be reviewed at the 2022 session of the United Nations High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. These four goals are intimately connected to the region’s longer-term recovery and reflect the three themes that frame this report: inclusion, women’s empowerment and environmental sustainability.

Chapter 2 considers key factors that have shaped the effects of the pandemic and countries’ response, as reflected in global and regional policy discourse, and analysis by our three institutions on the diverse effects of COVID-19 on economies in Asia and the Pacific. Chapter 3 features emerging good practices related to the three themes introduced in chapter 1 that are core elements of the 2030 Agenda: inclusion (ensuring social protection and quality education for all), women’s empowerment (advancing gender equality), and environmental sustainability (building inclusive green economies). The analysis draws on extensive inputs from sub-regional fora involving nearly 1,000 stakeholders, and 11 in-depth case studies from countries across the sub-regions and special situations of developing Asia and the Pacific. On this basis, key policy priorities are highlighted for urgent action to build forward better and reignite regional progress toward achieving the SDGs through an inclusive and resilient recovery.

Chapter 4 concludes by focusing on three key cross-cutting areas to unlock the policy opportunities highlighted in the preceding chapter: raising the ambition of national recovery strategies to align with the 2030 Agenda and leaving no one behind, mobilizing and steering public and private finance for inclusive and sustainable development, and leveraging regional cooperation and multi-stakeholder partnerships to overcome common challenges and narrow development gaps.

Asian Development Bank: © Asian Development Bank