‘How do we ensure our post-COVID recovery is green, clean, and aligned with delivering on the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals?’

That was the question posed by a special session of the ‘Disruptive Asia’ webcast held by the Asia Society on 30 July 2020, featuring Meg Argyriou (Head of International Programs at ClimateWorks Australia), Patrick Suckling (Asia Society Policy Institute non-resident Senior Fellow and former Australian Ambassador for the Environment), Chi Mun Woo (Partner, Sustainability and Climate Change at Deloitte) and Professor Rebekah Brown (Senior Vice-Provost and Vice Provost Research at Monash University).

In her comments, Meg stressed the potential for a regional response to COVID and to climate change.

‘If you think about the opportunities for regional trade across ASEAN,’ she said, ‘and the ability to build and strengthen supply chains to meet that regional demand for low carbon technologies that we’re already seeing illustrated in countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris agreement … that requires investment in infrastructure that is low carbon. So mapping that supply and demand across the region, there’s the opportunity to really fast track that pivot towards green growth in the region, which I think is really exciting. But it does require a shift in policy direction, and that’s that we really need to see that happen quite quickly …’

She argued to understand the crisis in context.

‘I think that across Southeast Asia, the climate imperative remains really strong. The region is highly affected by the impacts of climate change, and it’s also one of the regions that the fastest growing emissions in the world. So that pivot is really critical there. But it’s also important, I think, to think about the recovery from a broader perspective. The green recovery absolutely matters for the region, but the region is also continuing to face quite complex social challenges that have been exacerbated by COVID.’

Video from the webcast is available on the Asia Society site.