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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

22 October 2020

Assalamu’alaikum Wr Wb,

Selamat pagi dan salam sejahtera bagi kita semua


Yang saya hormati Bpk Menteri PPN/Kepala Bappenas,

Bapak ibu hadirin yang saya muliakan,


Terima kasih atas kesempatan yang diberikan kepada saya pada acara Indonesia’s SDG Webinar: Build Forward Better: Rising Stronger amid COVID-19 for SDGs Attainment. Merupakan kesempatan yang berbahagia, saya dapat menyapa kembali Bapak/Ibu/teman-teman di Indonesia. Selanjutnya, perkenankan saya menyampaikan pesan-pesan berikut dalam Bahasa Inggris.


The COVID-19 is severely impacting socio-economic fabric of our societies across the world, causing unprecedented human suffering and economic disrupting as well as our way of life.


Due to various forms of lockdown and containment measures, governments are not only focusing on controlling the spread of the pandemic, but also ensuring sustainable recovery. Yet, with widening inequality, rising poverty and unemployment and high prevalence of informality, the crisis has upended peoples’ lives and livelihoods in Asia and the Pacific.


I also recognise the growing significance of addressing several challenges, including:

  • lack of access to even one social protection scheme for over half of the population,
  • more than half of the region’s 4.6 billion people remain offline. Less than 5 percent of the population has access to high-speed and affordable Internet, and the Pacific is the most disconnected.
  • about 50 per cent of the increase in global emissions emanate from the Asia-Pacific region.


Today, the impacts of socio-economic crisis are reversing the hard-won development gains achieved over the past decades.


Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,


Indonesia has not been spared from this crisis. Yet, I fully recognise the important initiatives of member States, including Indonesia, to take swift actions to address the immediate concerns of health impacts of the pandemic, along with ensuring economic recovery and protecting nature.


In this regard, The United Nations Secretary General’s Policy Brief on South-East Asia outlines how COVID-19 has touched South-East Asia and offers forward-looking recommendations to assist member States cope with immediate socio-economic impacts and plan a sustainable pathway out of the crisis.


Going forward, the governments of South-East Asia can drive an effective recovery plans through focusing on four thematic areas – tackling inequality, bridging the digital divide, ensuring a green recovery and upholding human rights and good governance practices.


Allow me to briefly outline some of the key insights on these priority areas for your further deliberations and considerations.

First on inequality. Achieving a successful recovery from COVID-19 must address systemic issues, including poverty, inequalities and gaps in social protection. Applying a gender lens to economic policies is essential to ensure full participation of women in economic activities, provide equal pay and opportunities and remove gender biases in social protection schemes.


At the same time, member States can channel stimulus packages to MSMEs including catalysing women entrepreneurship and informal businesses. Decent employment opportunities must build on existing normative frameworks and guided by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


Second on bridging the digital divide. COVID-19 has highlighted both the role of digital technologies in pandemic response and the vulnerabilities posed by lack of digital access. Accelerated investments in ICT infrastructure is essential. A regionally coordinated and scaled up effort, as well as financing mechanisms are needed to realize the next generation infrastructure networks.


Third, on greening the recovery, it is essential that all steps taken in the recovery must accelerate South-East Asia towards a growth and sustainable development that is resilient and green. Decarbonizing economies by 2050, ending to fossil fuel subsidies and new investments in coal; tackling air pollution, transforming to green and smart infrastructure and transport; working towards national roadmaps for SDG 7 and stepping-up ambition for the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are some of the key policy directions.


Stimulus packages should be directed to industries that are low-carbon, resource efficient and aligned with environmental and climate objectives of the Paris Agreement.

Finally, countries in South-East Asia and their leaders can play an important role in upholding human rights and good governance practices in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.


In fact, the analysis makes clear that responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and delivering on the SDGs are closely interlinked. We need to underscore the significance of the whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach to recover better through a robust crisis response system for addressing this defining moment of our time.


Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,


Despite the long road ahead, the UN system including ESCAP stands ready to work with our member States with a commitment to sustainability and a build back better as our guiding principle. 


We are also promoting and enhancing regional cooperation to support effective and sustainable recovery, while building resilience. Our work with the ASEAN secretariat to build a resilient ASEAN Economic Community in the aftermath of COVID-19 has been solutions-driven meaningful.


South-East Asia has been long recognized as a subregion of successful soc-economic growth and sustainable development. On the path to its recovery in the post-COVID-19 era, Indonesia can continue to lead the way in building a South-East Asia region and beyond, that is more open, inclusive, sustainable and resilient.


Terima kasih atas perhatian Bpk/Ibu semua. Selamat dan sukses kepada Bpk/Ibu semua. Salam sehat!


Wassalamu’alaikum Wr Wb

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Subregional Office for South-East Asia +66 22 88 2902 [email protected]