Honourable Parliamentarians, Ladies and gentlemen,
The COVID-19 outbreak has destabilised economic outlook and widened existing social inequalities, impacting lives and livelihoods of millions in Asia and the Pacific and beyond.
The prospects of fulfilling the aspiration of achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is uncertain today.
Our societies are at the crossroads in its sustainable development journey.
These unprecedented times call on for building back better by ensuing sustainable partnerships and coalition with all stakeholders.
In view of this, the role of parliamentarians is central in steering the post-COVID-19 recovery plans, while putting people’s well-being first.
Allow me to highlight three policy proposals to address this COVID-19 crisis for your consideration.
First, scale-up investments to sustain human and economic well-being are imperative.
Fiscal support and other relief measures are crucial in supporting affected businesses and households and prevent economic contagion, and in protecting healthcare professionals and first responders.
Setting up a regional health emergency preparedness fund can be given priority.
Second, implement policies to ensure green recovery.
Policies need to ensure a fundamental shift in the paradigm of production and consumption, which is at the core of all economic activities.
Transitioning towards a growth path that ensures a healthy and green planet for future generations should be an integral part to designing post-COVID-19 economic recovery plans.
Third, integrate private sector in solution-driven policymaking outcomes.
Encourage businesses to integrate sustainability by factoring in environmental, social and governance aspects in investment analysis and decisions. Strategies and instruments such as carbon pricing must be focused on reducing emissions and mitigate climate-related risks.
The next phase of economic transformation should be more sustainable, with cleaner production and less material-intensive lifestyles.
It is heartening that many countries in the Asia-Pacific region are pioneers in designing and implementing people-centred socio-economic initiatives such as the sufficiency economy philosophy, gross national happiness and shared and circular economy.
Going forward, governments will have to play a significant role in encouraging consumer choices through positive reinforcements, eco-labelling of products and sustainable lifestyles.
Through oversight and legislative functions within the national governance structure, parliaments are well-placed to play a significant role in accelerating the COVID-19 recovery plans through inclusive and broad-based multi-stakeholder consultation.
I count on your forward-looking and inclusive leadership in shaping our future together.