Investment in health, social protection key to achieving recovery from Covid-19 pandemic: ADB

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May 05, 2021 7:13 PM

Speaking at the board of governors meeting, ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa said the region can emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic even stronger than before by addressing climate, inequality, infrastructure, regional cooperation and resource mobilisation related challenges.

ADB on Covid-19Highlighting that ADB was quick to respond to the coronavirus outbreak by granting assistance followed by USD 20 billion Covid-19 assistance package, President Masatsugu Asakawa said ADB will continue to deliver its "unique synergy of finance, knowledge and partnerships".

Investment in health, education and social protection alongside deeper regional cooperation can help countries in Asia Pacific region in achieving equitable recovery from the pandemic, Asian Development Bank (ADB) said on Wednesday.

Speaking at the board of governors meeting, ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa said the region can emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic even stronger than before by addressing climate, inequality, infrastructure, regional cooperation and resource mobilisation related challenges.

Highlighting that ADB was quick to respond to the coronavirus outbreak by granting assistance followed by USD 20 billion Covid-19 assistance package, he said ADB will continue to deliver its “unique synergy of finance, knowledge and partnerships”.

“We will prioritize the quality of our assistance over quantity, meeting near-term needs with a clear vision for the future. If we stay on this course, I am confident the region will emerge from the current crisis even stronger than before,” Asakawa said while speaking on ‘Toward a Lasting and Equitable Recovery: ADB’s Leadership and Country Presence during the COVID-19 Crisis’.

He counted five areas to be critical to achieving a lasting and equitable recovery for Asia and the Pacific.

“First, we must place ambitious climate actions at the centre of development, with increased focus on adaptation and resilience, and with full commitment to the goals of the Paris Agreement. Second, we need to address inequality including the gender gap, which has worsened during the pandemic by investing in health, education, and social protection,” he said.

Further, high quality green and digital infrastructure should be promoted to rebuild smartly while closing the digital gap and attracting substantial private investment, he said, adding regional cooperation and integration should be deepened, so that the developing member countries can seize the opportunities of renewed globalization and strengthen regional health security.

“And fifth, we need to strengthen domestic resource mobilization, to ensure that governments have the resources they need to finance sustainable growth and respond effectively to future crises,” he added.

Despite the pandemic hitting hard the global economies, he said ADB did not lose sight of its key long-term development programmes with around half of ADB’s commitments in 2020 going outside the pandemic response.

The funding agency remained on track to achieve its target of promoting gender equality in at least 75 per cent of its total operations by 2030, committed USD 4.3 billion in climate finance, besides support to the private sector remaining at 21 per cent of the total number of operations.

Seeking re-election later in November as President of ADB, Asakawa hoped the path laid out by the agency will help the region come out of these uncertain times.

Of the ADB’s USD 20 billion Covid assistance package, USD 16.1 billion was committed in 2020, including USD 10 billion for quick disbursal budget support under Covid-19 Pandemic Response Option or CPRO.

The Manila-headquartered funding agency also mobilised a record USD 16.4 billion co-financing.

“We embarked on an unprecedented borrowing programme of over USD 35 billion to ensure ready resources to mount a robust pandemic response while remaining financially stable. And our donor members approved over USD 4 billion for replenishment of the

Asian Development Fund for 2021 to 2024 affirming that our developing member countries most in need will not be left behind,” said the ADB President.

It announced a USD 9 billion Asia Pacific Vaccine Access facility, or APVAX, to help member countries procure and deliver safe and effective vaccines as swiftly and equitably.

“Vaccines are a global public good, and international organizations can play a leading role in making them accessible to all. And so, we are collaborating closely with our partners, including multilateral development banks, COVAX, the World Health Organization,” Asakawa said while speaking at the 3-day ’54th Annual Meeting of the ADB Board of Governors’ at a virtual session, that concluded on Wednesday.

He said 2020 was a landmark year in ADB’s history, adding the agency will continue to serve its members during this critical period in the history.

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