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Ideas for Developing Asia and the Pacific

Confronting COVID-19: ADBI Solutions for Asia and the Pacific

In the Spotlight

  • Experts Spotlight Behavioral Insights to Guide Green COVID-19 Recovery

    Experts examined behavioral insights for promoting COVID-19 containment and green recovery during an ADBI-Japan Nudge Promotion Council webinar on 14 December. They highlighted new research gauging pandemic behavioral changes using big data, randomized controlled trials, and behavioral surveys. They went on to discuss ways to nudge people’s behavior and effectively design COVID-19 containment measures, support decarbonation of the economy, and unlock greater post-pandemic digitalization and global value chain-driven growth.

  • ADBI-OECD Explore Post-COVID-19 Financial Resilience Imperatives

    Senior financial officials and experts examined keys to addressing COVID-19 amplified financial instability during the 20th OECD-ADBI Roundtable on Capital Market and Financial Reform in Asia on 8-9 December, supported by the Government of Japan. They discussed the importance of strengthening monetary and fiscal policies for mitigating growing household and corporate debt and ensuring financial system resilience. They also assessed digital-driven recovery opportunities and challenges, as well as ways to boost sustainable investment to facilitate long-term regional growth.

  • Tokyo Forum Assesses COVID-19 Recovery, Public Finance Solutions

    Fiscal strategies for achieving strong COVID-19 recovery and sound public finances in Asia and the Pacific were explored during the Sixth Annual Tokyo Fiscal Forum, co-hosted virtually by ADBI, the International Monetary Fund, and Ministry of Finance of Japan’s Policy Research Institute on 4 December. Experts discussed ways to tailor fiscal policies for different reopening phases as well as deliver support while ensuring debt sustainability. They examined fiscal risk management, relief measures for households and businesses, and quasi-fiscal activities via state-owned enterprises. They also addressed public investment’s role in promoting green and inclusive growth.

  • 2020 ADBI Annual Conference: Spotlight on Post-Pandemic Recovery and Resilience

    Reinvigorated efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) could enable more resilient post-COVID-19 economies in Asia and the Pacific, according to experts during the 2020 ADBI Annual Conference’s final day on 3 December. ADBI Dean Tetsushi Sonobe urged revived support for advancing and harnessing the SDGs. Researchers assessed the region’s macroeconomic outlook and policy options, and opportunities to enhance institutional governance and green investment. They also discussed ways to reduce inequality and improve social protection. See the day three webinar recording.

See ADBI’s expert analysis of the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on developing Asia and the Pacific, and policy ideas for promoting relief, recovery, and resilience in the region.


ADBI Dean Sonobe on Enabling Asia's COVID-19 Recovery


ADBI is conducting research on the need for coordinated fiscal and monetary policy stimulus to address challenges related to the scale of COVID-19’s spread and severe negative impact on the global economy. The findings will be detailed in a policy brief for the Think20 (T20), the G20’s research and policy advice network. The aim is to encourage the G20 to develop a coordinated framework and principles to help contain virus’s spread and stabilize the economy. The approach could also support the adoption of policies conducive to economic growth and development.

Project Team:

  • Peter J. Morgan, Vice Chair of Research, ADBI
  • Nella Hendriyetty, Senior CBT Economist, ADBI
  • Naoyuki Yoshino, Professor Emeritus, Keio University
  • Jean Dong, Chief Executive, China Australia Belt and Road Initiative

Contact: Peter J. Morgan ([email protected])

The COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on cities and transportation networks has given rise to the urgent need for interdisciplinary research addressing human mobility, infrastructure, supply chains, logistics, and integrated mobility models. ADBI is conducting a call for papers on related issues, to be presented at a forthcoming conference and for possible inclusion in a special issue of the journal Frontiers of Future Transportation. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Impacts of COVID-19 on human mobility
  • Human behavior effects on COVID-19’s spread and vice versa
  • Vulnerability modeling
  • Connections between epidemics and travel behavior
  • COVID-19’s impacts on critical goods distribution
  • Resilience of cities to pandemics
  • Vulnerability of supply chains to shocks
  • Disparities of impacts on travel behavior, based on race, age, gender, and income

Project Team:

  • KE Seetha Ram, Senior Consulting Specialist for Capacity Building and Training Projects, ADBI
  • Peter J. Morgan, Vice Chair of Research, ADBI
  • Satish Ukkusuri, Purdue University
  • Francesco Viti, University of Luxemburg

Contact: KE Seetha Ram ([email protected]) and Peter J. Morgan ([email protected])

ADBI is conducting a survey to gauge the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and related government policies on households in 8 ASEAN member countries. The project’s aim is to promote improved support policies for vulnerable households based on an empirical examination of their income, employment, remittances, consumption, and child education during the pandemic, as well as responses to government assistance measures. This is being done through phone surveys.

Project Team:

Contact: Peter J. Morgan ([email protected])

ADBI and the Asian Productivity Organization are conducting a survey to gauge the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and related policies on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Asia and the Pacific. The project’s aim is to promote improved support policies for these vulnerable firms based on an empirical examination of SME productivity, production and supply chain trends and trade flows during the pandemic, as well as responses to government assistance measures.

Project Team:

Contact: Peter J. Morgan ([email protected])

ADBI is conducting a survey of rural households in Bangladesh to better understand COVID-19’s impacts on vulnerable people and guide the development of policy responses that improve social protection. This phone-based survey will focus on issues pertaining to remittance income, the availability of labor and agricultural materials, and public services such as education and emergency assistance. The data will be used to assess the effects of the pandemic and related measures on households’ behavior and formulate policy recommendations.

Project Team:

Contact: Peter J. Morgan ([email protected])

Featured Activities

  • 2020 ADBI Annual Conference: Experts Examine COVID-19 Household Surveys, Digitalization

    Experts highlighted new research illustrating COVID-19’s impacts on developing Asia and digitalization’s sustainable recovery role during day two of the 2020 ADBI Annual Conference on 2 December. They presented survey findings detailing the pandemic’s effects on rural households in Bangladesh and offered policy guidance. They also discussed online education penetration and widening digital divides identified in a Southeast Asian household survey. Other focuses included the digital innovation potential of the region’s small firms and digitalization’s implications for macroeconomic stability and labor markets in the post-COVID-19 era. See the day two webinar recording.

  • 2020 ADBI Annual Conference Details COVID-19 Impacts, Sustainable Recovery Solutions

    Experts assessed COVID-19’s impacts and policy implications in Asia and the Pacific during the 2020 ADBI Annual Conference opening on 1 December. University of Chicago economist and former Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan focused on dealing with corporate distress, repair, and reallocation, while ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa described priorities to rebuild for a lasting recovery. ADBI’s Dean Tetsushi Sonobe and Deputy Dean Chul Ju Kim led discussions on COVID-19’s macroeconomic effects in developing Asia and implications for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises and digitalization within the sector. See the day one webinar recording.

  • T20 Policy Brief Outlines Global COVID-19 Fiscal Blueprint

    A new Think 20 (T20) policy brief co-authored by ADBI’s Peter Morgan and Nella Hendriyetty urges coordinated and comprehensive fiscal policies to address the pandemic-driven economic crisis. It proposes short and long-term actions, including health-related fiscal stimulus and stabilizing monetary policies. It also advocates measures that could help promote infrastructure financing, narrow income gaps, and deliver financial support to severely affected sectors to foster resilient and inclusive post-pandemic growth. The policy brief was also co-authored by former ADBI Dean Naoyuki Yoshino and the Australia-China Belt and Road Initiative’s Jean Dong.

  • ADBI-ADB-WTO Spotlight COVID-19 Era Trade Solutions

    Policy makers and experts discussed regulations and standards for facilitating post-pandemic trade during a three-day ADBI-ADB-World Trade Organization (WTO) regional policy dialogue that concluded on 13 November. ADB Vice President Bambang Susantono described ways to leverage trade to mitigate COVID-19 and the trade implications of accelerating digitalization. Other participants examined efforts to stabilize medical supply chains and tourism, as well as international organizations’ responses to trade flow disruptions due to COVID-19 containment measures. Transparent policy actions, closer international coordination, and harnessing digital technologies will be crucial for promoting shock-resistant global trade and recovery, they concluded.

  • ADBI Dean Charts Post-COVID-19 Path for Global Think Tanks

    Think tanks must swiftly deliver reliable, evidence-based knowledge leveraging digital innovations to thrive in the post-COVID-19 environment, said ADBI Dean Tetsushi Sonobe during the 2020 Virtual Global Think Tank Summit on 13 November. He highlighted ADBI’s surveys of households and small businesses in developing Asia, noting the importance of gauging public needs amid the pandemic. He also urged think tanks to jointly develop a review system to improve their policy proposals.

  • ADBI Dean Describes Digitalization as Post-COVID-19 Productivity Catalyst

    ADBI Dean Tetsushi Sonobe discussed digitalization’s importance for boosting post-COVID-19 productivity across business sectors in Asia during an Asian Productivity Organization Top Talk on 27 October. He described how farmers, manufacturers, and service providers could use e-commerce, artificial intelligence-based marketing, and e-learning to offer customized, value-added services for consumers as well as customized incentives that raise labor productivity. He also stressed the need for policies that promote internet access and protection for consumers and small firms to address the socioeconomic impacts of digital transformation and promote inclusive recovery.

  • ADBI Dean Shares Asian Guide to African Post-Pandemic Development

    ADBI Dean Tetsushi Sonobe shared COVID-19 compatible development lessons from Asia’s emerging economies during an African Development Bank webinar on 14 September. Dean Sonobe compared the near-term pandemic recovery paths of Asian and African economies. Drawing upon his research background in Africa, he added that the African economy could achieve high long-term growth if countries in the region steadily and equitably develop infrastructure and human capital. He noted the potential for collaborative policy research and capacity building to help address these needs.

  • ADBI-CSIS Promote Pandemic Safeguards for Asia’s Aging Societies

    Experts discussed ways to build the safety and well-being of Asia’s aging societies amid the COVID-19 pandemic during an ADBI-Center for Strategic and International Studies webinar on 16 September, in conjunction with the 53rd ADB Annual Meeting. Drawing upon country-level case studies, they emphasized the importance of advancing social and financial protection for the elderly as well as the role of innovative technology and education in fostering an inclusive care economy. Boosting COVID-19 mitigation and structural reforms that improve protections for aging societies would promote resilient and inclusive post-pandemic growth in the region, they added. See related infographic.

  • ADBI-ADB Gauge COVID-19 Impacts on Developing Asia’s MSMEs, Households

    ADBI and Asian Development Bank (ADB) researchers presented survey results on COVID-19’s impacts on developing Asia during a joint webinar on 16 September, part of the 53rd ADB Annual Meeting seminar series. ADBI Dean Tetsushi Sonobe discussed survey findings on the pandemic’s impacts on the region’s micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), as well as rural households in Bangladesh. ADBI Vice Chair of Research Peter Morgan described survey findings on COVID-19’s impacts on households in Southeast Asia, while ADBI Financial Economist Naoko Nemoto assessed post-pandemic MSME policies. Their insights provided a guide for safety net development.

  • Francis Fukuyama, ADBI Dean Guide Post-Pandemic Infrastructure Policymaking

    Renowned political scientist Francis Fukuyama of Stanford University and ADBI Dean Tetsushi Sonobe examined the policymaking calculus for advancing post-COVID-19 infrastructure growth during an ADBI webinar on 10 September. Together, they discussed keys to navigating politically charged environments to achieve quality infrastructure breakthroughs vital to sustainable and inclusive recovery. The webinar also included audience Q&A and helped capstone a four-week ADBI-Stanford University virtual training program to empower policy makers from developing Asia and the Pacific to implement infrastructure-boosting reforms. View the webinar recording.

  • ADBI Dean Urges Post-Pandemic Think Tank Digitalization

    ADBI Dean Tetsushi Sonobe encouraged global think tanks to prioritize digitalization in their post-COVID-19 strategy during a Solutions Dialogue on infrastructure and sustainable pandemic responses on 3 September. Dean Sonobe said adopting digitally driven research and knowledge delivery could help think tanks provide timely and relevant evidence-based policy solutions. He pointed to ADBI’s digital efforts to address developing Asia’s changing needs. ADBI Senior Capacity Building and Training Economist Nella Hendriyetty also discussed digitalization’s role in building resilient infrastructure and services, including data collection and sharing barriers and possible solutions.

  • ADBI Guides Pandemic-Era Water Disaster Management

    A new ADBI policy brief offers guidance for mitigating water-related disasters such as floods and drought during the COVID-19 crisis. Frontiers of Water-Related Disaster Management and the Way Forward examines the importance of effective governance as a pillar of disaster risk management strategy and ways to strengthen it amid new pandemic challenges. The policy brief was published ahead of the International Online Conference to Address Water-related Disaster Risk Reduction under the COVID-19 Pandemic, helping to inform the proceedings co-hosted by ADB, GRIPS, HELP, and UNCRD.

  • Central Bank of Sri Lanka Governor, ADBI Dean Urge Innovative Crisis Approach

    Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) Governor W. D. Lakshman and ADBI Dean Tetsushi Sonobe encouraged “outside-of-the box” thinking to ensure economic and financial stability amid the COVID-19 crisis in remarks opening an ADBI-CBSL-Asia-Pacific Applied Economics Association virtual workshop on 6 August to mark CBSL’s 70th anniversary. Central bankers and researchers examined monetary policy next steps in Sri Lanka and other developing Asian economies, drawing upon findings from research papers presented during the workshop. They focused on ways to promote growth and stability amid the increasingly challenging macroeconomic policy environment, discussing issues related to local currency bond markets, capital flow volatility, inflation dynamics, economic policy uncertainty, trade tensions, and demographic change.

  • ADBI-Chiang Mai University Spotlight Poverty Reduction Next Steps

    Ways to reduce poverty and advance inclusive and sustainable growth amid the COVID-19 pandemic were discussed during the 9th International Conference on Asia Economic Development on 21-22 July, co-hosted by ADBI and Chiang Mai University (CMU) to move toward the Sustainable Development Goals. ADBI and CMU experts, together with policy makers and representatives from ADB, UNDP, and the World Bank, called for prompt fiscal stimulus and greater efforts to boost economic equality and social protection. They also reaffirmed the importance of open economic systems and the role digitalization for promoting financial inclusion and post-COVID-19 adjustment.

  • ADBI Experts Urge Coordinated Action for Inclusive Digital Recovery

    ADBI experts discussed the potential for digitalization to advance inclusive recovery during a Global Solutions Dialogue on 16 July on urbanization and infrastructure-based pandemic mitigation. ADBI Dean Tetsushi Sonobe explained that greater efforts to leverage increasing demand for digital infrastructure and tools could improve COVID-19 controls and productivity. He also called for stepped up international coordination to combat cybercrime and privacy threats. ADBI Senior Capacity Building and Training Economist, Nella Hendriyetty, added that the digital divide in developing countries and among vulnerable groups must be narrowed to achieve recovery for all.

  • ADBI Dean Promotes Digitalization-Driven Recovery During Think Tank Town Hall

    Capitalizing on the accelerating digital transformation of economies in the COVID-19 era will be key to boosting crisis recovery, according to ADBI Dean Tetsushi Sonobe. He shared this assessment during a multi-week global think tank town hall initiative to promote evidence-based pandemic solutions, organized by the University of Pennsylvania’s Think Tank and Civil Societies Program. Dean Sonobe urged greater digital infrastructure investment and risk-mitigation to enhance employment, business resilience, and social protection. He also called for adequate governance of digital economies to further build their inclusiveness and shock-resistance.

  • T20 Policy Brief Details COVID-19 Era Infrastructure Financing Solutions

    Ways to scale up “quality infrastructure” investment that supports sustainable post-COVID-19 recovery are described in a new Think20 (T20) policy brief, co-authored by ADBI Senior Capacity Building and Training Economist Nella Hendriyetty. Increased fiscal spending to fight the pandemic will limit public infrastructure investment capacity and require greater efforts to lure private capital to fill the gap, the policy brief explains. To address this need, it details recommendations for reducing infrastructure financing risks, accelerating project development, and mitigating the disruptive effects of the pandemic and future disasters. The policy brief was produced as part of the T20 2020 process, offering guidance to global policy makers during Saudi Arabia’s G20 presidency.

  • Former ROK Minister Urges Post-COVID-19 Digital Education Rethink

    Former Education, Science, and Technology Minister of the Republic of Korea (ROK), Ju-Ho Lee, encouraged the technological transformation of post-COVID-19 education during an ADBI Distinguished Speaker Series webinar on 1 July. Lee, now a professor at the Korean Development Institute, noted that the application of artificial intelligence-based “High-Touch High-Tech” education could enhance learning by delivering basic knowledge that allows teachers to focus on personalized instruction. Pandemic-driven changes highlight physical classroom education’s limits and provide an opening to advance to more innovative, equitable, and sustainable modes of learning, he concluded.

  • ADBI-CAREC Urge Green COVID-19 Recovery

    Policy makers and experts stressed the need for an environmentally sustainable COVID-19 recovery in Asia during an ADBI-CAREC Institute climate change dialogue on 18-19 June. Delegates noted the increasing pressure on public funding due to the pandemic and importance of attracting greater private green financing. They went on to exchange innovative ideas for accelerating and governing investments that boost climate change mitigation. They also discussed case studies on COVID-19’s impacts on green projects and how to enhance regional cooperation to promote green growth.

  • ADBI-WCTRS Build Post-COVID-19 Transportation Resilience

    Policy makers and experts evaluated COVID-19’s impacts on transportation systems during the second webinar of the ADBI-World Conference on Transport Research Society (WCTRS) series on high-speed rail on 12 June. ADBI Dean Tetsushi Sonobe opened the proceedings that addressed mass transportation’s role in exacerbating as well as mitigating the virus’s spread. Chubu University’s Yoshitugu Hayashi and Hiroshima University’s Junyi Zhang went on to describe how the pandemic has transformed transport and people’s lives. ADBI Deputy Dean Chul Ju Kim chaired the discussions of recommendations to build transportation system resilience for the new environment.

  • Experts Discuss Ways to Enhance COVID-19 Safety Nets for Women

    The urgent need for greater social protection for women, one of the most affected groups in the COVID-19 crisis, was highlighted on 10 June during the last of three ADBI-Asian Development Bank (ADB) webinars on the pandemic’s safety net challenges and real-time policy lessons for Asia. Amitabh Kant, CEO of the National Institution for Transforming India, described India’s COVID-19 safety net response. Experts concluded the webinar series by discussing policy recommendations for institutionalizing pandemic support for the vulnerable to boost recovery and crisis preparedness.

  • ADBI-ADB Promote Effective COVID-19 Safety Nets for Migrant Workers

    Policy makers and development practitioners discussed the fragile situation of migrant workers due to COVID-19 and related policy imperatives on 4 June, during the second of three ADBI-Asian Development Bank (ADB) webinars addressing the pandemic’s safety net challenges and real-time policy lessons for Asia. The proceedings emphasized the importance of effective return and reintegration policies. They also featured a case study examining the Philippines’ pandemic safety net response and the difficulty of rapidly scaling up cash transfers to reach millions of additional poor households.

  • Urban Mobility Expert Describes Data-Driven Recovery Breakthroughs

    The use of mobile phone and social media data to track people’s movement, the spread of COVID-19, and economic risks in cities was examined during an ADBI distinguished speaker series webinar on 5 June featuring Purdue University civil engineering professor Satish Ukkusuri. Drawing upon his survey-based research in Japan and the United States, Ukkusuri noted that mobility analytics can help to improve understanding of behavioral patterns and the recovery process following pandemics and natural disasters. This information provides new ways for policy makers to design measures to strengthen urban resilience and prepare effective recovery strategies for future crises, he added.

  • Policy Leaders Share COVID-19 Safety Net Lessons

    ADBI and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on 2 June co-hosted the first of a three-part webinar series addressing COVID-19 safety net challenges and real-time policy lessons for Asia and the Pacific. Policy makers and experts examined challenges governments face in rapidly expanding social safety nets to reach the most vulnerable. The session featured Pakistan Minister for Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Sania Nishtar, who discussed the country’s efforts to assist COVID-19 affected people. She detailed how Pakistan has sought to identify the vulnerable, incentivize stakeholders, and deliver aid, offering insights for scaling up regional COVID-19 safety net measures.

  • ADBI to T20: COVID-19 Action Vital to Demographic Transition

    ADBI Capacity Building and Training Economist Pitchaya Sirivunnabood highlighted the importance of addressing COVID-19 shocks to avoid exacerbating demographic transition challenges during a Think20 (T20) task force webinar on 2 June. Sirivunnabood suggested the G20 and other countries create sufficient fiscal space to mitigate the pandemic’s health and economic impacts, and help confront demographic changes like population aging. She also called for inclusive measures that recognize vulnerable groups such as older people, females, and migrant workers to ensure social cohesion.

  • ADBI Details COVID-19 Financial Inclusion Guidance Before T20

    ADBI Vice Chair of Research Peter Morgan explained during a Think20 (T20) task force webinar on 20 May that greater efforts by the G20 and other governments to promote digital financial literacy could advance financial inclusion in the COVID-19 era. Morgan said the pandemic-driven acceleration of the digital economy is increasing the need for national digital financial education strategies and guidelines, developed in coordination with fintech companies. He noted that this approach could boost access to financial services and financial education for disadvantaged groups.

  • ADBI Briefs T20 on COVID-19 Infrastructure Solutions

    ADBI Senior Capacity Building and Training Economist Nella Hendriyetty discussed ways the G20 and other governments can bolster quality infrastructure growth that supports post-COVID 19 economic recovery and job creation during a Think20 (T20) task force webinar on 20 May. Hendriyetty said policy makers could address COVID-19 triggered weakening in public infrastructure funding by introducing innovative policies to attract private investment while boosting small and medium-sized enterprises for increased spillover effects to ensure sustainable growth.

  • ADBI Partners with Global Think Tanks to Promote COVID-19 Recovery

    ADBI Dean Tetsushi Sonobe discussed the importance of digitalization for enabling COVID-19 recovery at a global think tank town hall on pandemic solutions hosted by the University of Pennsylvania’s Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) on 13 May. Dean Sonobe said utilizing digital innovations will be key to harnessing structural changes in economies accelerated by COVID-19, including the heightened role of e-commerce, remote work, and new business models. He noted this will require greater efforts to address digital access and skills divides as well as privacy and cybercrime risks. ADBI will work with other top think tanks under the TTCSP initiative to formulate recovery recommendations for governments and the global community.

  • ADBI Informs COVID-19 Water Risk Reduction Principles

    ADBI experts have teamed up with ADB and global partners to launch policy principles for mitigating water disasters in the COVID-19 era. ADBI Dean Tetsushi Sonobe helped devise the principles which promote actions for protecting areas affected by water emergencies like floods and droughts from becoming COVID-19 epicenters and expediting recovery. Dean Sonobe and ADBI’s Capacity Building and Training Department will also support implementation efforts, in coordination with the UN-initiated High-Level Experts and Leaders Panel on Water and Disasters that co-developed the principles.