Leading experts offer new ideas for sustainable COVID-19 recovery in new publication issued by UN DESA

Scholars call for better tax cooperation, improved digital access, and sustainable natural resource management as starting points.

As world leaders in government, business and civil society grapple to contend with the urgency of the global COVID-19 pandemic, leading experts and thinkers are offering fresh new ideas that can prevent new pandemics while achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in a new volume of policy briefs issued by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) today.

The collection of seven expert-written essays from members of the United Nations High-level Advisory Board on Economic and Social Affairs (HLAB) offers new guidance for rebuilding societies in a fairer, more inclusive way.

The volume, “Recover Better: Economic and Social Challenges and Opportunities,” provides outside-the-box thinking and new solutions to some of this era’s most pressing tests. The authors advance ideas on issues that include improving international tax cooperation, more equitable access to digital technological advances, and sustainable natural resource management that complement the broader recommendations of the Secretary-General regarding shared responsibility and global solidarity in responding to the socioeconomic impact of COVID-19.

Earlier this month, the UN’s annual stocktaking report on progress across the 17 Sustainable Development Goals showed that it is the world’s poorest and most vulnerable who are being hit the hardest by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. An estimated 71 million people are expected to be pushed back into extreme poverty in 2020 – the first rise in global poverty since 1998.

The observations and recommendations outlined in “Recover Better,” some of which offer region-specific suggestions, can inform COVID-19 responses so that countries build back better and avoid returning to a pre-pandemic pathway, where progress towards important objectives such as ending extreme poverty and limiting global temperature rise was not rapid enough.

Six board members—Cristina Duarte, former Cabo Verde Minister of Finance and Planning; José Antonio Ocampo of Columbia University; Jayati Ghosh of Jawaharlal Nehru University; Justin Yifu Lin of Peking University; Izabella Teixeira, co-chair of the International Resource Panel; and Kori Udovički, Founder and Chairwoman of the Center for Advanced Economic Studies—and Alicia Bárcena, the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), contributed chapters to the report, which was edited by UN DESA. These briefs reflect and further the discussions the HLAB members have had on a wide range of development trends and issues of critical importance to achieve the SDGs and recover from COVID-19.

photo: Habib Dadkhah on Unsplash

“These chapters represent ‘deep dives’ into various areas and differ in the topics that they cover and there is a shared message that stands out: the United Nations can play an important role in addressing global challenges and advancing sustainable development,” said Liu Zhenmin, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs.

UN DESA will host a virtual launch event for the volume on 22 July, at 9 a.m. EDT, bringing together the Board Members including former Head of State, Nobel Laureate, and intellectual leaders for a public dialogue on recovery better and multilateralism in response to the economic and social challenges of the current pandemic. It was streamed live on UN WebTV and the UN DESA Facebook page, where it also will be available for viewing after the event.

About the United Nations High-level Advisory Board on Economic and Social Affairs

The United Nations High-level Advisory Board (HLAB) on Economic and Social Affairs was established in June 2018 to help strengthen the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) in the context of United Nations development system reform, and as a key part of efforts to enhance support to Member States of the United Nations in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The HLAB consists of 16 globally renowned experts in the economic and social policy fields, including former Heads of State, a Nobel Laureate, former Senior Government Officials and intellectual leaders. It has provided guidance to the research and policy analysis work of UN DESA, including topics for its flagship publications. The Board members themselves have played an active role in strengthening the linkage between UN DESA and the global economic and social policy research community, and have promoted UN DESA publications and reports at national and global levels.

Through its biannual meetings, the Board also has provided advice to the United Nations on broad economic and social issues, including near-term prospects and risks for the world economy, frontier technologies, inequality, migration, issues associated with countries in special situations, as well as the implications of these issues for multilateralism and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The volume “Recovering Better” is envisaged as the legacy of the first HLAB to advancing the sustainable develop


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