In December 2020, 111 measures were noted to have been introduced by Asian-Pacific countries that are in line with a green recovery. However, there were also 93 measures countries in the ESCAP region have committed to take under the Paris Agreement that are in line with a green recovery but were not yet being implemented. There is great potential to align the COVID response with climate action; people and governments just need to find the synergies and act on them in a coordinated fashion. How can Asia and the Pacific realize a green recovery? Let us know!
Read more in the new ESCAP report: Are Countries in the Asia-Pacific Region Initiating a "Green Recovery"? What More Can Be Done?
What are young people saying? How can Asia and the Pacific realize a green recovery?
Chung Ngin Zhun (27), Tawau, Malaysia
"The pandemic has exposed the vulnerability of supply chains, including food and other supplies. This vulnerability can be linked to the dependency of globalization and trade which has brought about much prosperity but also, on the other hand, increased the dependency of food security on trade and less on local production. Introducing a localized bio-based circular economy can help reduce the risk of supply chain disruption with countries being able to upcycle and recycle what they are consuming. For example, countries should be exploring different sources of biomass to replace fossil fuel-based products that we rely heavily on. Besides that, focusing on scaling up production of other renewable energy source will be important. We are currently working with seaweed to produce a sustainable bio-plastics and fertilizer that is circular and sustainable, which is able to create new job opportunities in seaweed farms. However, more grants and funding should be allocated to innovators in the circular bio-based economy to ensure that the innovations can grow and have enough runway to scale and mature economically. Multilateral organizations together in partnership with host countries should be actively promoting and investing in this field to ensure a more robust supply chain for when the next pandemic hits."
Wesley Clarke S. Silvederio (21), Koronadal City, Philippines
"The COVID-19 and climate change responses can be synergized to promote a "Green Recovery" by investing in green technology. For example, the pandemic has seen the demand for face masks skyrocket. Face masks are necessary equipment to prevent the transmission of COVID-19, and hundreds of millions of people have used them in the past year. However, disposable face masks are also not easily recycled and will eventually become trash after use. So, the disposable face masks that protected you from the virus will become a plague when it pollutes the environment. This situation is one where "green technology" comes into play. Instead of face masks that are using materials such as plastic and fabric, green technology can offer a compostable face mask made from hemp or other plant materials that has the same level of protection as their plastic counterpart but a more finite lifespan. By investing in green technology, you are also promoting a climate change response. A mature green technology that is conscientious towards the climate can have a huge and positive impact on mitigating the effects of climate change. Green technology paves the way for a green recovery, where a cleaner and brighter future awaits us all."
Jose Marie A. Eslopor (23), Iloilo, Philippines
"It has been a year since our battle with the COVID-19 pandemic began, which affected the socio-economic, political, and ecological state of every country. The usage of single-use plastics increased due to its growing demand during the pandemic. Hearing these facts disheartens me, but thinking beyond this status quo, what can we do to pursue a Green Recovery? The Asia-Pacific region is home to the Coral Triangle with its rich marine biodiversity; however, it is also home to the top plastics polluters in the world. This irony adds more burden among advocates on how to promote a Green Recovery. For me, the bare minimum initiative is to support progressive, intersectional, and pro-poor environmental issues that tackles more the intersectionality of environmental issues amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. We should continue holding our government accountable and commit towards shifting to sustainable practices and support organizations who lobby environment-related sustainable ordinances. Moreover, by living a low-impact lifestyle, it is also one of the greatest contributions you could give towards promoting a Green Recovery. Although we do it on our own, if done collectively, for sure we will create a bigger impact towards our future."
Ahmad (29), Pune, India
"Youth have to understand that, after this pandemic, it is not about survival of the fittest or richest; it is about how we are treating our globe.
Although the pandemic has provided some degree of environmental respite in some places, humans were still throwing out garbage and dumping wastes. To stop this, youth have to come forward and contribute for sustainable economy."