ISLAMABAD, Jun 03 (APP):Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Masatsugu Asakawa and United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (ESCAP) Executive Secretary Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana Wednesday discussed enhancing cooperation to help Asia Pacific region in order to address the novel coronavirus disease.

“ESCAP played a key role in the establishment of ADB, and our two organizations have a long history of close partnership,” said Asakawa, according to a press release.

“Our continued cooperation is now more important than ever. We must seek further synergies by combining our knowledge, networks, and finance to help developing Asia address health, social, and economic crises caused by COVID-19.”

“Supporting our member countries build back better after COVID-19 lies at the heart of both our agendas,” said Alisjahbana. “I am looking forward to deepening our cooperation to get our region’s economies and societies back on their feet in a way that protects our region’s precious environmental resources—very much including our oceans.”

ADB and ESCAP launched with the United Nations Development Programme a joint report on Fast-Tracking the SDGs: Driving Asia-Pacific Transformations, at the 7th Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development in May.

The forum concluded that the future of the region would be dictated by how countries respond to the pandemic and how well these responses are aligned with the 2030 SDG Agenda for sustainable development.

The two organizations also organize the Asia-Pacific Trade Facilitation Forum and collaborate across many other areas, such as the Thematic Working Group on Gender Equality and on the Asia Pacific Climate Week.

ADB is looking to expand cooperation with ESCAP on other areas, including gender inequality, climate change, ocean pollution, and boosting quality infrastructure.

ADB announced a $20 billion assistance package on 13 April to address the needs of its developing member countries (DMCs) as they respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The package includes $13 billion for quick and affordable budget support to help DMCs counter the severe macroeconomic impacts arising from the pandemic with countercyclical expenditure.

Some $2.5 billion of the package is available as concessional and grant resources, and about $2 billion is earmarked for loans and guarantees to the private sector to rejuvenate trade and supply chains. ADB will expand its technical assistance to DMCs in designing, improving, implementing, and monitoring health and other sector actions against COVID-19.