Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2022

May 16, 2022

BUILDING FORWARD FAIRER: Economic Policies for an Inclusive Recovery and Development

This year’s edition of the UNESCAP’s flagship Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific revisits macroeconomic and structural policies and lays out a road map for inclusive post-pandemic recovery and development – a “Building Forward Fairer” policy agenda. As developing countries in the region move ahead with learning to live with COVID-19, balancing the protection of public health and livelihoods, it is time to lay the foundations for a fairer future of equal opportunities and inclusive outcomes.

The Survey recommends the continuation of targeted public expenditures amid likely fiscal consolidations that tend to increase inequality and call for efficiency in fiscal spending. The Survey shows that investments in health care, education and social protection significantly reduce inequality; however, there is much room for improvement in beneficiary targeting and spending efficiency. To ensure fiscal and debt sustainability, the Survey also highlights the importance of enhancing domestic fiscal revenues in a fair manner.

In taking a new perspective, the Survey highlights the role of central banking policies and argues that central banks can and should tilt their traditional monetary policy and official reserve management toward promoting inclusive development. The Survey also explores how a central bank digital currency can improve financial access as well as the role of innovative financial instruments in promoting inclusiveness.

The third pillar of the Building Forward Fairer policy agenda is Governments proactively guiding, shaping and managing the structural transformation and technological innovation process for more inclusive outcomes. Economic structure determines inequality dynamics, and the Survey outlines the path to “growing with equity”. This requires learning structural transformation lessons from the past; promoting labour-intensive technologies and inclusive access to high-quality education and public services; reskilling; and strengthening social protection floors.

Following the global call for a major structural change set out in the Secretary-General’s report Our Common Agenda, the efforts of the Asia-Pacific region toward building an inclusive future must also be based on a new social contract. The unprecedented human suffering caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has also created a generational opportunity to build a more equal and sustainable world. This is an opportunity that we cannot waste.

To access the publication on the United Nations ESCAP website, please click here.