Implications of the COVID-19 crisis and its recovery for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in Asia

Event: JSPS-ICSSR Seminar on Understanding and Addressing Systemic Risks Behind the Socio-economic Impacts of COVID-19 in Japan and India: Developing a Roadmap for a Resilient and Sustainable Future
Date: 21-22 November 2022
Conference Proceeding
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Starting as a health emergency, the COVID-19 pandemic has evolved into a global crisis impacting health, the economy, society, the environment and institutions. The crisis reveals that building a resilient and sustainable society is important and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) is urgently needed. It is imperative to ensure that the immediate COVID-19 response measures and the medium to long-term development planning are tailored to building a resilient society which is in harmony with nature.

To address the root causes of the global crisis, we developed a framework for building a resilient and sustainable (R&S) society in the post-COVID-19 era from a systemic perspective. The R&S framework, including individual resilience, infrastructure resilience, environmental resilience, structural resilience and institutional resilience, is closely linked with the SDGs.
• Individual resilience links with food security and nutrition (Goal 2), access to basic services (Goals 1, 3, 6, 7, 9 and 11), stable jobs and decent work (Goal 8), etc.
• Infrastructure resilience links with: hospitals, healthcare systems (Goal 3), water supplies, sanitation and sewage (Goal 6), telecommunication networks (Goal 9), etc.
• Environmental resilience links with: freshwater (Goal 6), climate change and mitigation (Goal 13), marine ecosystems Goal (14) and terrestrial ecosystems (Goal 15), etc.
• Structural resilience links with social protection systems (Goal 1), gender equality (Goal 5), social inequalities, sound financial markets and institutions (Goal 10), etc.
• Institutional resilience links with policies for pro-poor and gender-sensitive development (Goal 1), rule of law and good governance (Goal 16), finance, investment, technology, policy coherence (Goal 17), etc.

The five R&S areas and their sub-components are interlinked their achievements require an integrated approach to take account of the synergies and trade-offs. We developed a four-step methodology for identifying and quantifying the interlinkages among the SDG targets. We used this methodology to analyse the synergies and trade-offs among the R&S areas and recommend priority areas for their achievements.
• The employment structure with 68% of jobs in the informal sectors in Asia is vulnerable. Transition policies, such as the promotion of renewable energy and removing fossil fuel subsidies, may cause employment trade-offs which should be taken into account in policymaking.
• The significance of sanitation and hygiene is even more pronounced during the pandemic. Insufficient investment due to the lack of financial resources becomes a development drag. Strengthening domestic and international financial resource mobilisation is important.
• Biodiversity conservation has been regressive in Asia driven by unsustainable agricultural and industrial production and unsustainable resource use. Major changes in consumption and production patterns are needed to achieve positive human-environment linkages.
• Structure-related issues such as inequalities and the coverage of social protection systems have been worsening in some Asian countries caused by enlarged gender inequality, among others, which needs to be addressed.
• Institutional resilience through building strong governance is an important enabler for achieving R&S. Promoting the rule of law, which is poor in Asia, is needed to remove its drag on other development areas.