10 July 2020 - Global

COVID-19: It’s time for a new ‘social contract’ for the 21st century

Staff attend a training in Save the Children's COVID-19 isolation and treatment centre in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh

Save the Children reveals new six-point plan for the Asia-Pacific region. 

If Asia-Pacific countries are to emerge from today’s pandemic better equipped to deal with future shocks, a new ‘social contract’ is needed between governments and society that prioritises the welfare of all its people, including the most vulnerable households and children, international aid agency Save the Children said today.  

Shaheen Chughtai, Asia Regional Advocacy & Campaigns Director, Save the Children, said: 

“To address the global COVID-19 emergency, a whole-of-society approach is needed. The price of inaction and delay is the scale of human tragedy and economic upheaval the world is currently witnessing. We must either learn from history, or doom ourselves to repeat it.  

“It is crucial for Asia-Pacific governments, businesses and society to limit both the risk and impact of future pandemics, which studies show are becoming more frequent. They can do this by investing more in public health, shielding society’s most vulnerable families from the worst impacts of poverty, protecting children – especially girls – from violence, ensuring internet connectivity for all to strengthen education and livelihoods, using the pandemic recovery to address the climate emergency, and making peace efforts more inclusive and effective. 

“For this ambitious agenda to succeed, it’s time for a new ‘social contract’ for the 21st Century between governments and society. This echoes the seismic shifts following the Great Depression and the Second World War when many governments expanded their responsibilities to support mass employment and public health as well as international cooperation and peace. The result was a healthier, more stable and prosperous world. We must seize similar opportunities in the current crisis.”  

According to the Asian Development Bank, the pandemic could cause the world economy to slump by more than six per cent of global gross domestic product – the worst recession since the 1930s Great Depression. The bank estimates up to 167 million job losses in the Asia-Pacific region – that’s a staggering 70 percent of global employment losses due to COVID-19.  

In its report published today, Covid-19: Lessons from Asia Pacific, Save the Children lays out a six-point plan on what needs to change so the region is better prepared in a world facing multiple threats to health, peace and prosperity.  

Save the Children calls on governments, politicians and activists in the Asia-Pacific to: 

  1. Prioritise adequately funded universal health coverage.  

  1. Expand social safety nets with universal cash benefits and services that reach families most in need.   

  1. Support children at risk of violence, exploitation and abuse due in part to COVID-19

  1. Bridge the digital divide with internet connectivity for all to strengthen education and livelihoods.   

  1. Build economic recovery on greener, more sustainable foundations.  

  1. Support more inclusive conflict prevention and peacebuilding.  

To support Save the Children’s global COVID-19 emergency appeal, click here.

Spokespeople available in Dhaka, Bangkok and Singapore:

Contact: Olof.Blomqvist@savethechildren.org +66 627 015 084 (Bangkok)

Contact: Bhanu.Bhatnagar@savethechildren.org +44 7467 09 67 88 (London)

Out-of-hours: Media@savethechildren.org.uk +44 7831 650 409 (London) 

We stand side by side with children in the world's toughest places.