How Asean’s Covid-19 recovery measures are missing opportunities for a green future

More than a year after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a public health emergency, the – a region with a combined GDP of US$9.34 trillion and a population of more than 650 million – has not recovered from the global economic tumult resulting from the pandemic.

While some economies in the region do appear to be recovering, Asean governments are still prioritising the disbursement of stimulus measures for short-term economic relief. As of May 28, Asean countries had authorised a total of US$730 billion, equivalent to 7.8 per cent of its total GDP in stimulus dollars.

While Asean governments have demonstrated a willingness to boost economic recovery and strengthen socioeconomic resilience during the ongoing crisis, the higher-order challenge is to what extent they can leverage this crisis to equip themselves against , a slow-onset crisis of the same or even bigger magnitude as Covid-19. Green recovery policies and strategies can equally help to put a country on the path to economic recovery while bringing environmental and sustainability benefits.

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Melinda Martinus and Sharon Seah