ASEAN experienced widespread disruptions from the pandemic in early 2020 and this impacted regional food security both directly (food supply and demand) and indirectly (decreasing purchasing power, barriers on food distribution) – both of which disproportionately affected the poor and vulnerable.
Grow Asia, together with the World Economic Forum and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, initiated a virtual roundtable with over 95 senior leaders from the public, private and civil society sectors in the region in May 2020. Four multi-stakeholder Working Groups emerged, developing action plans around: (i) Rural Logistics, (ii) Mobile Money, (iii) Digital Marketing Platforms, and (iv) Digital Enabling Environment.
In partnership with the ASEAN Secretariat, a follow-up virtual consultation was run in October, presenting the findings and recommendations from the four Working Groups to over 140 partners for further input. Discussions and highlights from each Working Group served as inputs to the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework (ACRF) and its Implementation Plan at the SOM-AMAF in August and at the ASEAN Summit in November.
Many of the proposed ideas and solutions that came out of the convening and Working Groups involve the use of digital technologies and encourage a more conducive policy environment for these digital solutions to emerge. Grow Asia’s thought leadership shaped how the ACRF specifically identifies Accelerating Inclusive Digital Transformation as Broad Strategy #4 to safeguard lives and livelihoods, and build resilience.