Socio-economic Implications of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Developing Countries & the Role of SSTC

A webinar was organized jointly organized by the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) and UNDP Seoul Policy Centre (USPC), on 7 May 2020, bringing together think tanks from the South, who are members of the South-South Global Thinkers initiative, to share their country and regional insights and diverse perspectives on Socio-economic Implications of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Developing Countries & the Role of South-South & Triangular Cooperation.

The COVID-19 pandemic poses an unprecedented challenge to economies and societies globally.  Aside from putting enormous strains on the health sectors, it has also sparked fears of an impending socio-economic crisis and a global recession, which is likely to be much worse for developing countries.  As an immediate response, countries have taken actions in containing the pandemic through various measures such as social distancing, self-isolation, travel restrictions, border closures and trade disruptions, in combination with disrupted supply chains and falling demand of goods and services.  This has put economies and people’s jobs and livelihoods at severe risk.

According to the World Economic Outlook, the COVID-19 pandemic will push 49 million people into extreme poverty by the end of 2020 . Emerging and developing economies are projected to contract by -1.0 percent in 2020, excluding China, and the growth rate is expected to be -2.2 percent. With more people living below or close to the global poverty line, developing countries will suffer most of the consequences in terms of extreme poverty. Sub-Saharan Africa, which so far has been relatively less impacted by COVID-19, projections suggest that it will be the hardest hit region in terms of increased extreme poverty followed by South Asia.  It is projected that 23 million people will fall into poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa followed by 16 million in South Asia. The Middle East, and the Caucasus and Central Asia will also have a dramatic impact on their economies due to the historic fall in oil prices. Moreover, its potential impact will further exacerbate existing humanitarian crises and the immediate impacts on vulnerable populations in conflict-affected settings. Although the socio-economic impacts are still unfolding, the trends show that COVID-19 poses a real challenge in the achievement of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs).

This webinar brought together think tanks from the South, who are members of the South-South Global Thinkers initiative, to share their country and regional insights and diverse perspectives on 1) social and economic impact, risks and implications of COVID-19 in their respective country/region 2) socio-economic measures that have been put (or should be put) in place by the government, and 3) role of South-South and triangular cooperation in mitigating those risks. The webinar aimed to contribute to a global exchange of experiences that could increase understanding of the challenges and solutions, improve the effectiveness of cross-disciplinary responses, and leverage cooperation amongst countries, including through South-South and triangular cooperation.

Presentations were made by the following panelists, followed by a Q&A session. The discussion was moderated by Ms. Xiaojun Grace Wang, Deputy Director, UNOSSC

  • Mr. Jorge Chediek, Director of UNOSSC & Envoy of the UN Secretary-General on South-South Cooperation New York, United States (Opening Remarks)
  • Mr. Kithmina Hewage is a Research Economist at the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) and a member of the World Economic Forum’s Expert Network, Sri Lanka.
  • Ms. Gala Díaz Langou is the Social Protection Program Director at the Center for the Implementation of Public Policies for Equity and Growth (CIPPEC), Argentina.
  • Mr. Chukwuka Onyekwenya is the Executive Director of the Center for the Study of the Economies of Africa (CSEA), Nigeria.
  • Mr. Balazs Horvath, Senior Economic and Strategic Advisor on Belt and Road Initiative, UNDP China
  • Mr. Stephan Klingebiel, Director of USPC, Republic of Korea, (Conclusions)

The recording of the webinar can be accessed from here.

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