MANILA, PHILIPPINES (25 September 2020) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Alibaba Local Services cohosted a webinar today to launch a new joint study on digitalization of food supply chains and waste management in the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

In the wake of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, food insecurity risks have increased due to rising unemployment, restrictions on people’s movement, interrupted food production and processing, as well as supply chain and trade disruptions. Changes in food availability and affordability are also impacting nutrition, especially in poor households.

Opening the webinar, ADB Director General for East Asia James Lynch highlighted the importance of taking a more comprehensive and systematic approach to improving food security and resilience and reducing the environmental impacts of food supply chains in the post-pandemic phase.

“The COVID-19 pandemic revealed the vulnerability of food supply chains and highlighted the fragile interrelationship between the food and agriculture sectors and natural resources, climate change, biodiversity, and public health,” he said. “E-commerce platforms played an important role in maintaining a stable food supply during the lockdown in the PRC, and digital technology can play a key role in establishing more resilient and sustainable food supply chains.”

ADB and Alibaba Group established a strategic partnership in November 2019 to support rural vitalization in the PRC. The new joint study with Alibaba Local Life Services is expected to focus on three areas: the role of digital technology in resilient and sustainable food supply chains; the role of digital technology in waste management, especially on plastics and food waste, along the food supply chain; and the potential of digital platforms to support sustainable development in the PRC.

“ADB’s projects should increasingly leverage public and private partnerships in applying digital technologies to establish more resilient and sustainable food supply chains,” said Mr. Lynch. “The strategic partnership with the Alibaba Group, and this joint study with Alibaba Local Services, is a great opportunity to benefit from Alibaba’s strong technological expertise.”

Together with ADB Chief Economist Yasuyuki Sawada, leading international experts and key officials from China Agricultural University, Chinese Adademy of Science, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, International Fund for Agricultural Development, and International Food Policy Research Institute attended this event and served as panelists.

Alibaba Local Services is a consolidated subsidiary of Alibaba Group, operating Eleme, a leading on-demand delivery and local services platform in the PRC, and Koubei, one of the country’s leading restaurant and local services guide platforms for in-store consumption.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.

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