Asia Pacific can emerge stronger from COVID-19 – ADB President

ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa. Photo courtesy of ADB.

MANILA, PHILIPPINES, May 5 – The Asia and the Pacific region is capable of emerging from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic “even stronger than before” by focusing on five areas to help achieve a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable future, Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Masatsugu Asakawa said at the ADB Board of Governors Annual Meeting, which was broadcast live today.

Putting strong climate actions at the centre of development, closing the gender inequality gap, promoting high-quality green and digital infrastructure, deepening regional cooperation, and strengthening domestic resource mobilisation would help bring about a lasting and equitable recovery for Asia and the Pacific, Asakawa said.

“We will continue to deliver ADB’s unique synergy of finance, knowledge, and partnerships. And 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.

On climate actions, there needs to be increased focus on adaptation and resilience, and with full commitment to the goals of the Paris Agreement, he said.

He also called on more investments in health, education, and social protection for the empowerment of women, while promoting high-quality green and digital infrastructure to enable economies to rebuild smartly while closing the digital gap and attracting substantial private investment.

He said stronger regional integration will enable ADB developing member countries to seize the opportunities of renewed globalization and strengthen regional health security.

Action on these priorities can build on ADB’s response to COVID-19 in 2020. Its total commitments in 2020 reached a record high of $31.6 billion, with just over half supporting operations to respond to the pandemic. The balance was committed to address long-term development issues such as the gender equality gap, the impacts of climate change, and investments in quality infrastructure. These achievements were supported by record-high co-financing of $16.4 billion and record-high capital market borrowings of over $35 billion.

“During the height of the pandemic, I reassured my staff that we will someday look back with pride at what we accomplished for the people of the region. I believe more than ever that this is true,” Asakawa said.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.