Through partnerships, we build strong alliances, promote knowledge-based solutions, and expand funding for our developing member countries. While many countries in the region continued to struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, the focus is now increasingly turning to laying the foundation for a green, resilient, and inclusive recovery.
Managing Director General
Asian Development Bank
Building Back Better
Throughout the Asia and Pacific region and across the world, 2021 saw the COVID-19 pandemic disrupt and affect families and economies in varying waves of intensity, location, and impact. Communities and countries grew weary of lockdowns and disruptions, experiencing a growing desire to put COVID-19 behind them, even as the longer-term consequences were coming into focus.
For the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which had quickly mobilized partners to help countries through the pandemic, 2021 was also a time to continue leveraging partnerships and building a return to a different kind of normalcy. Realizing the full promise of a post-pandemic world meant “building back better,” linking increased economic growth and prosperity with green, inclusive, and resilient recovery.
The importance of partnerships to ADB’s work, particularly the focus on the COVID-19 recovery phase, became even more important in 2021.
COVID-19 and its complexities rippled across countries and communities, within Asia and the Pacific and outside, in both developed and developing countries. It is truly a testament to the multilateral commitment from partners that despite the challenges they were facing to address their own pandemics, they were still willing to maintain support for ADB’s work. A total of $12.9 billion came from ADB’s partners, complementing the $22.8 billion commitments from ADB’s own resources.
Throughout 2021, many of ADB’s developing member countries (DMCs) were focused on the twin goals of fighting the pandemic and building momentum behind their recovery. Some DMCs managed COVID-19 relatively well, while for others, the shocks and disruptions were more significant. For many millions in the region, their progress out of poverty was either stalled or, worse, significantly eroded, resulting in people falling back into poverty.
However the DMCs may have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, ADB and its partners supported them with tailored advice and financing. ADB’s support for COVID-19-related projects—roughly 66% of its own resources, totaling $10.4 billion, and 69% of cofinancing, equivalent to $8.8 billion—highlights ADB’s continued programmatic nimbleness. Farmers, small businesses, women, children, and communities throughout Asia and the Pacific—ADB and its partners helped many in weathering the COVID-19 storm.
As countries start to recover from the pandemic, ADB highlighted opportunities to imagine greener and more inclusive economies and societies and tailor recovery efforts to achieve those goals. Wherever possible, ADB and partners enthusiastically embedded green, inclusive, and resilient programmatic work and goals into projects, prioritizing inclusive and sustainable solutions.
In 2022, new headwinds are troubling the region and the world. Indeed, we are facing crisis upon crisis. However, ADB sees Asia and the Pacific’s “building back better” recovery continuing, with the twin imperatives of minimizing or mitigating environmental degradation and promoting equity and fairness being increasingly seen as critical to sustainable economic growth.