MANILA, PHILIPPINES (9 September 2021) — Leaders from the six member countries of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) today endorsed a new 10-year strategy to promote sustainable, inclusive development and strengthen economic integration to combat threats such as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, climate change, trade barriers, and rapid urbanization.
The GMS Economic Cooperation Program Strategic Framework 2030 (GMS-2030), lays out the GMS program’s mission for the first time, with a focus on regional cooperation and sustainable development. The strategy, which was released at the 7th GMS Leaders’ Summit hosted by the Government of Cambodia, also calls for member countries to work together on a multi-sector, multi-thematic response to the pandemic based on a new GMS COVID-19 response and recovery plan.
“ADB’s near-term priority is to help economies recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Masatsugu Asakawa. “In parallel, our assistance will pave the way for inclusive, sustainable, and resilient development in the long term, in line with GMS-2030. ADB will continue to play a central role in coordinating the GMS Program and leverage ADB’s financing and knowledge support by collaborating with the private sector and other development partners.”
The pandemic has pushed 8 million more people in the GMS countries into poverty, and more than 340,000 migrant workers have been forced to return home. The GMS 2030 strategy calls for the subregion to overcome the challenges it faces by deepening regional cooperation and integration in key areas and continue the GMS program’s work on connectivity, with a project-led approach to development and long-term regional policy cooperation.
The 2021–2023 GMS COVID–19 Response and Recovery Plan aims to help countries address the health, economic, and social impacts of the pandemic through regional cooperation in key areas, complementing country response plans. The plan includes measures to protect the health of people, animals, crops, and food products, as well as urban environments. It also seeks to promote the safe, orderly movement of labor and support open borders, as well as inclusive, green, and resilient economic activities. An initial list of priority projects worth $3.1 billion has been identified to support the plan.
The GMS program was established in 1992 to strengthen regional cooperation by encouraging cross-border economic and trade relations. Since then, ADB has supported regional cooperation projects in key sectors such as health, transport, tourism, urban development, environment, human resources development, agriculture, and energy through 109 cross-cutting investments and 230 technical assistance projects.
ADB has mobilized $27.7 billion in financing for the GMS program, with 45% contributed by ADB, 22% by GMS governments, and 33% by development partners and the private sector. ADB provided $5.7 billion to the GMS program from 2018 to 2020.
ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.