ISLAMABAD: Despite huge damages to public health and global economy, COVID-19 pandemic has brought new opportunities at the same time, accelerating the process of digital transformation in all sectors of life. The was said by Vladimir Norov, the Secretary-General of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) during inaugural plenary of 4-day 23rd Sustainable Development Conference (SDC) titled: Sustainable Development in the Times of COVID-19, inaugurated by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in Islamabad.
Norov said that the digital economy and cross-border e-commerce will play an increasingly important role in rebuilding the world economy after the COVID-19 in terms of achieving economic growth, increasing the competitiveness of economies and improving the quality of lives thus contributing to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In times of COVID-19, global online retail sales are on the rise, and additional jobs are being created, he added.
“The SCO member countries see stability in Afghanistan as a need for regional peace and economic development,” Norov said, adding that Afghanistan share borders with four SCO member states and its stability is crucial for peace and development of the entire region.
He said that this year’s SCO Summit concluded while finalizing an action plan for the implementation of the SCO development strategy 2025, which focuses on the early recovery of our economies from the pandemic.
SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri highlighted the key facets of Food Security Dashboard which was developed jointly by SDPI and National Security Division, Government of Pakistan and will be launched during the upcoming days of the conference.
Dr Suleri said COVID-19 has negatively affected most aspects of Sustainable Development Goals. The pandemic has increased the incidence of poverty, food insecurity, diverted the resources from conventional diseases and elective surgeries to COVID-19, and deprived hundreds of millions of students from classrooms, he said, adding that for women and girls, it has turned into a shadow pandemic, and lack of access to clean water and sanitation facilities have aggravated the risk of spread of COVID-19. “On the one hand, the core agenda of SGDs seems to be compromised, and on the other, there is a silver lining, as it has brought social sector development back on the radar of governments.” He said now the world governments simply can’t afford to compromise on health, social protection, and food security.
Dr Bushra Yasmin from Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi said that the poor are highly vulnerable to diseases and disasters. Pakistan’s score of social protection index is about 0.047, which is the lowest in the South Asia. She further said that this pandemic has hit the youth in terms of their jobs, education, and training.
Speaking at a concurrent session on Role of media amidst COVID-19 outbreak: From Pakistan and beyond, Joydeep Gupta, Senior Media Analyst from India, said a combination of ignorance and empathy has been observed in the overall media industry which needs special attention of the government.