For decades, East Asia and the Pacific region sustained rapid economic growth while lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty.
And through much of 2020, some countries in the region were a model for how to keep Covid-19 at bay. As as the prospect of a quick recovery from the global pandemic recedes, the region risks losing ground.
COVID-19 continues to buffet countries, hitting business and livelihoods and subjecting communities to a roller-coaster of lockdowns and re-openings. Economic growth, while reviving from the lows of 2020, is highly uneven across countries and across sectors. And vaccination roll-outs in some cases are moving slowly, hampered by supply shortages and logistical constraints.
It doesn't have to be this way. As I write this, wrapping up my first visit to Asia since the beginning of the pandemic, I am reminded of the region's remarkable capacities and resilience. I also believe that there is one critical element that is not receiving the attention it deserves: regional cooperation. Working together could substantially accelerate the recovery.
A version of this article appears in the print on August 10 2021, of The Himalayan Times.