HLPF Side Event Discusses Lessons from COVID-19 for Sustainable Recovery

The session discussed how to better understand, assess, and manage systemic recovery.

On 12 July 2023, experts from UN organisations and academia exchanged lessons from COVID-19 for sustainable recovery and accelerating progress on the SDGs. "Sustainable COVID-19 Recovery in a Multi-Risk Setting", an official side event of the 2023 UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), discussed how to better understand, assess, and manage systemic recovery.

The event featured experts from the UNU Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS), UNU-IAS, the University of the Witwatersrand, the UNU Operating Unit on Policy-Driven Electronic Governance (UNU-EGOV), and the World Health Organization. Speakers presented recovery experiences from Cambodia, Germany, Indonesia, Nicaragua, South Africa, and beyond — identifying key factors behind the success and failure of sustainable systemic recovery.

UNU-IAS expert Mahesti Okitasari (Consultant) shared insights and policy prescriptions from the institute’s research, including a survey of local and regional government responses to COVID-19 in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. She explained that flexibility in administrative procedures was essential for subnational governments to develop context-specific responses. Multi-level governance mechanisms are critical — not only for recovery, but also for building back better.

A key conclusion from the discussion was the need for multi-sectoral approaches and partnerships that can mobilise expertise and resources to address complex hazards. Other conclusions included the importance of a common vision for a sustainable recovery, and effective ways of empowering communities in recovery efforts.

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