USING a multidisciplinary approach to achieve common objectives by making the best use of knowledge will play a major role in the recovery of developing member countries (DMCs) in the region, according to a key official of the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

In his opening remarks at the Knowledge Forum 2021, ADB Vice-President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development Bambang Susantono said he believes such process, called “knowledge management,” will help the region navigate change, especially in a post-pandemic world.

Susantono said this is the reason for ADB’s efforts to make knowledge products and services one of its tenets in the region. It has, he said, become one of Manila-based multilateral development bank’s “most prized assets.”

“Knowledge management will play a critical role in ensuring the pandemic recovery will be resilient, as well as green, inclusive, and sustainable. Resilience is key when confronting uncertainty,” according to Susantono.

The former Acting Minister of Transportation of Indonesia said this year’s Knowledge Forum theme is “Learning through change,” which means developing solutions to fit new situations and responding to persistent challenges.

This means there is a need to build greater resilience and adopt solutions that would give countries flexibility, especially when it comes to addressing the needs of the most vulnerable in society.

“As this pandemic continues to play out, we have seen millions of people lose jobs. Many businesses have been forced to shut down. And more people―especially women and children―fell back into the poverty they only recently escaped. It was a rude awakening. We learned the hard way that our systems and our development progress remain all too fragile,” Susantono said.

In order to ensure that the region learns through change, Susantono said there are five key points―greater collaboration; investing in infrastructure; anticipating future uncertainties; focusing on governance; and greening economies.

The ADB executive said the recovery of the region rests on transcending physical boundaries and strengthening partnerships. Recovering from the pandemic will require sharing experiences, knowledge, and innovations even through cyberspace.

Investing in infrastructure, Susantono said, means addressing infrastructure constraints by also taking into consideration digitally smart and climate resistant solutions.

He said there is a need to prepare for greater global and regional convergence; institute data governance mechanisms and employ knowledge cooperation. He noted that knowledge management is data-driven so sharing information swiftly and safely is important.

Susantono said in terms of facing new uncertainties, there is a need to push for evidence-based policymaking. However, this should not stop at data or numbers crunching since data should illustrate stories about people who face real problems.

“It could be Linlin, for example, from the People’s Republic of China, who lost her job as a toll booth collector because of automation, which the pandemic accelerated. Or there is Namitha, a third-year college student from India who had to stand on a slanted roof to attend her school online, just to get usable wifi [wireless fidelity access],” Susantono said.

“Or think of Swetal, a girl from the mountains in Nepal, who sleeps outside her house when she has menstruation. These individual stories give us better context to retrieve and use information, memory, and experience to confront new situations. Crucially, these bring people to the center of our recovery efforts,” he added.

Susantono said governance is also important given the role played by governments during the pandemic. However, particular emphasis should be given on local governments who are at the frontline of the pandemic response.

He said there is a need to strengthen local government’s resilience in order to better handle shocks and address vulnerabilities. This will require strong knowledge management capabilities.

Lastly, Susantono said greening economies is crucial. With economies starting to recover, global emissions are expected to increase by 5 percent this year.

Further, he said, economic stimuli provided by many governments were not directed at efforts to mitigate climate change or in measures that were environmentally friendly.

Citing data from the Vivid Economics’ Greenness of Stimulus Index, the ADB official said only 28 percent of the $17.2 trillion global stimulus was allocated for efforts that help green economies.

“Our recovery from the lasting effects of this pandemic will not be easy. But through knowledge sharing, collaboration and partnerships, we can create a better future together,” Susantono said.

“Knowledge management is at the heart of ‘learning through change.’ But it must be supported by robust infrastructure, agile processes, sound governance, and a culture that breaks silos,” he added.

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