Speech by Masatsugu Asakawa, ADB President, at the Southeast Asia Development Symposium, 16 March 2022


Your Excellency Minister Rajah, Governor Diokno, distinguished guests, colleagues:

Thank you for joining us for the third annual Southeast Asia Development Symposium. Our theme this year is Sustainable Solutions for Southeast Asia’s Recovery. This is an important topic because, as Southeast Asia begins to emerge from the pandemic, we need to ensure that efforts to revitalize the region will lead us to a more resilient and prosperous future.

I am excited by our lineup of speakers who will share their insights on this topic. As we begin these discussions, let me offer a few reflections on how we can work together to accelerate our efforts to support an inclusive and sustainable recovery.

I. A more inclusive recovery

Let me begin with our work to promote a recovery that is inclusive.

During the pandemic, ADB prepared a comprehensive $20 billion package to support governments with financing for stimulus measures focused on the poor and vulnerable. ADB also launched a $9 billion Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility to help ensure swift and equitable access to vaccines.

The recovery also needs to empower women and ensure that economies work for everyone. To do this we need to reinvigorate value chains and trading systems in ways that improve the lives of millions.

Recovery in Southeast Asia will also require a tourism industry that is revitalized. Last year, ADB established its new Southeast Asia Tourism Hub to help countries prepare environmentally sustainable tourism projects, support local entrepreneurs, and boost revenues. Today we are pleased to announce the launch of the Tourism Hub website.

II. A more sustainable recovery

Let me know turn to the importance of securing a recovery that is sustainable.

To achieve this, we need to intensify our focus on climate change. In this regard, ADB has elevated our ambition to deliver $100 billion in cumulative climate financing between 2019 and 2030. We also revamped our Energy Policy to support the development of sustainable energy systems. In addition, we introduced several game-changing initiatives, such as our Energy Transition Mechanism, to help Southeast Asia move toward a low-carbon future.

It is important to recognize that countries face an enormous task in financing recovery while contending with fiscal pressures from the pandemic. In addition to our budget support during this extraordinary period, ADB is delivering important policy knowledge to help countries strengthen domestic resource mobilization. We are also working to enhance institutional capacities and international tax cooperation.

III. Southeast Asia: Rising from the Pandemic

Before I close, let me elaborate on the need for Southeast Asia to develop bold and innovative solutions to the unique challenges facing the region.

To support this, ADB is launching a new study today, Southeast Asia: Rising from the Pandemic. This impressive report delivers important recommendations to foster recovery, including easing barriers to transport and trade, and boosting investments in education, training, health systems, social assistance, green infrastructure, and technology.

Clear and focused efforts in these areas will ensure a more modern workforce, a safer and healthier population, greater protection for the most vulnerable, and stronger and more competitive businesses that are green and inclusive.


Let me conclude by expressing my deep admiration for the way Southeast Asia has persevered through the pandemic. Many uncertainties remain, including the outbreak of conflicts that are causing great suffering and further setbacks to social and economic progress. But I firmly believe that our cooperation and creativity will allow us to emerge stronger than ever.

Thank you.