COVID-19 is testing our resilience across all sectors of the economy and areas of development

A message from Mirjana Spoljaric Egger, Director of UNDP's Regional Bureau for Europe and CIS

Posted March 23, 2020

Stores are shuttered in Istanbul, leaving worries about the economy. Photo: Levent Kulu / UNDP Turkey

The COVID-19 pandemic is a new challenge we are facing in today’s fast changing world, and we are facing it as a global society. Like climate change, it is testing our resilience across all sectors of the economy and all areas of development – from public health, social protection and governance systems to information sharing and economic policies. And also like climate change, it will take the efforts of everyone from individuals to governments working together to combat the threat.

In our region of Europe and Central Asia, UNDP has always worked to make sure the most vulnerable and excluded are not left behind, develop game changing solutions to accelerate sustainable development, and promote prevention and preparedness against crises and shocks.

With this experience, we stand ready to assist countries to counter the crisis, assess its impact and move forward with early recovery and long-term development response.  In the region, some of the work we’ve been doing already brings benefits to the current crisis, such as the digitalization of legal aid, court systems and service provisions, transparent procurement of drugs and essential health services and strategies for socio-economic impact and resilience.

A distance learning system has been set up for students in Moldova, a partnership between UNDP and Studii. Photo:

Trucks deliver medicines to Kiev as part of UNDP Ukraine's health procurement work, now being built upon. Photo: Krepkih Andrey / UNDP Ukraine

Already our countries are springing into action – UNDP Moldova has created a support platform for distance learning and UNDP Serbia and our EU partners are adapting a new disaster resilience project to provide much needed medical supplies including respirators, personal protective equipment and diagnostic tests. UNDP Ukraine is building on its drug procurement work with the Ministry of Health to ensure outreach to hard-to-reach populations, including those in the conflict zone.

UNDP is there now, and will be there as we work through this crisis together. Especially for vulnerable communities and social groups; countries with fragile economies and underdeveloped healthcare systems; communities affected by conflicts; women, elderly and marginalized groups already suffering from social stigma.

The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its threat to people and economies, are yet to be fully assessed and understood. We know it will be wide-reaching. And that our response will need complex answers. But it also presents us with the unprecedented opportunity to rethink the development trends that are holding us back, improve social and economic eco-system and harness the best opportunities provided by technology and innovation.