NZ PM calls for strong, equitable, sustainable post-Covid recovery

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Thursday called on political and business leaders to work together to build a strong, equitable and sustainable recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

She made the remarks when delivering the keynote address to a global business audience at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit, reports Xinhua news agency.

Acknowledging the scale of the pandemic’s impacts, Ardern said “there is now little doubt that staying on top of the virus provides options when it comes to responding to the economic challenges before us”.

“As we prepare for the post-pandemic era, we need to continue to strengthen the partnership between government and business. Together, we need to set the stage for an equitable, inclusive and sustainable recovery that invests in our people and our planet through innovative ideas and renewed resolve,” she said.

She outlined several areas where political and business leaders could work together to achieve an economic recovery to weather future economic shocks.

“We must unlock efficiency and productivity gains that digital innovation offers,” she said, adding that Covid-19 has accelerated the progress of digital transformation by years.

Meanwhile, workplaces and businesses must be inclusive of everyone across the communities, particularly women and indigenous peoples, who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic’s effects but are an engaged and productive labour force that have much to contribute, she said.

In New Zealand alone, the Maori economy is now worth NZ$70 billion ($49 billion), the Prime Minister noted.

Ardern also pointed out environmental sustainability as an area for increased political and business cooperation.

“I’m proud of the progress APEC has made this year, including in beginning to turn the tide on the adoption of fossil fuel subsidies which have created devastating environmental degradation by masking the true cost of fossil fuels and inhibiting the transition to adoption of renewable alternatives,” the Prime Minister said.

She acknowledged that addressing such systemic issues would demand increased political and business cooperation.

“We have been dealt an opportunity to strike an economic reset on a scale we haven’t seen since World War II. Implementing this level of change during such challenging times will require real courage from all of us, political leaders and business leaders alike,” she said.

The themes of this year’s APEC CEO Summit include the State of the World with and post-Covid: economic recovery, trade and protectionism; and the Digital Disruption Opportunity: digital transformation, technology and innovation, and the importance of digital equity.

Other themes are the Primacy of Trust: ESG (environmental, social, governance) – the next focus for business, and business as a force for good; the Future of Energy: clean technology, renewable energy, and energy transition; and the Sustainability Imperative: sustainable growth, climate change, food sustainability and provenance.

After the APEC CEO Summit, the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting will kick off on Friday via virtual conference, chaired by Ardern, with post-pandemic recovery, implementation action of 2040 vision high on the agenda.