Mr. Suriyan Vichitlekarn, Mekong Institute (MI) Executive Director, called for the streamlining of regional and national COVID-19 recovery efforts to optimize “build forward better” impacts for a resilient Southeast Asian economy at a UNESCAP policy dialogue on May 5, 2021.
“By working together in sharing information and pooling resources, we can effectively address gaps and respond to priority needs in a holistic manner,” he said. “In the long-term, this proactive and inclusive approach will help level off divergent efforts in addressing food security, stabilizing supply and value chains, and advancing environmentally-balanced strategies.”
The online event was organized in support of the launch of the Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2021. The report detailed impacts of the pandemic on development gains, which have impeded the path of meeting global objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Mr. Suriyan, who was one of five expert panelists, underscored that while regional frameworks and plans were readily available, focus must be directed at deploying concrete implementation plans and support mechanisms that fit the Asian context.
“To make these happen, open and regular dialogue among regional and national stakeholders must be institutionalized,” he said.
He added that increased capacity building investments will usher stronger policy reforms, fiscal packages, and programs to support vulnerable and marginalized groups and open economic borders to revitalize business activities, particularly those of small- and medium-sized enterprises who are the backbone of Southeast Asian economies.
In view of long-term interventions, Mr. Suriyan suggested for the practical application of a “One Health” approach so countries can better detect and set systems that will mitigate the spread and impacts of infectious diseases across borders.
The UNESCAP policy dialogue was part of a series of discussions in 2021. Findings from the event will be consolidated into a report for submission to Southeast Asian governments to help build forward a resilient, inclusive, and sustainable future in the region.