In a world challenged by intertwined crises, the UN High-level Advisory Board on Economic and Social Affairs (HLAB) is stepping up to offer advice on how the world can recover and make progress towards sustainable development. On 25 May, you will be able to explore their solutions in the volume “Six Big Questions for the Global Economic Recovery: The UN High-level Advisory Board Q&A Compendium” to be launched in a UN DESA Global Policy Dialogue event. Here are their 6 main takeaways:

1. How do we get the economy on track?

A robust and equitable global recovery will not be possible until the pandemic is under control, and policies must address the continuing disparity of access to vaccines and fiscal resources among countries to better respond to the crisis. The way we measure our recovery and growth needs to be reexamined. It must reflect what is truly valued to better inform policy decisions globally.

2. How do we finance the recovery?

There needs to be new thinking on debt. We must reassess the importance and productive role of public spending, especially for the recovery, in the post-pandemic era. We need to change the excessive focuses on the risks associated with fiscal deficits, so that countries can mobilize resources and spend more productively for long-term opportunities, that are also better aligned with the SDGs.

3. What about inequality?

We need to pay more attention to our economic security as one of the key driving factors in tackling inequality. From its inception, the United Nations has recognized the significance of economic security for wellbeing, stating that everyone has the right to an adequate standard of living “and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.” (Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) Policies must respond to guarantee these rights, tailored to specific situations people face. This transition process should be pursued through increasing the voice and agency of workers.

4. Can we still save the planet?

The world is not on track to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The public sector has a role and responsibility in changing this trajectory, while ensuring a just and inclusive transition that does not cause major disruption or dislocation. We need to bolster further leadership by developing countries and ensure that the narrative in support of climate action is adapted to local contexts to also address specific concerns, such as the loss of biodiversity, deforestation, and depletion of local resources, which have a real impact on communities in the developing world.

5. What is the role of technology in the recovery?

Frontier technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) can be deployed to benefit societies and can contribute to the public good, if the right policies are in place. It is therefore critical to pay attention to both progress and drawbacks of technologies, as well as its directionality, to ensure that the benefits are evenly spread throughout society. Public interventions should also ensure that new technologies such as AI are used to augment labor, rather than replace it.

6. What are the implications of population ageing for the future?

Population ageing is occurring in almost all countries of the world, albeit at different levels and with different speeds. In many developing countries, the population is still relatively young but is ageing faster than developed countries did. While population ageing is a sign of reductions in mortality and fertility associated with socioeconomic development, it also leads to fiscal pressures that will affect public pension systems and other social protection measures. We will need to pay more attention to the role of care economy, as well as the interlinkages between population growth, ageing and migration.

Lastly, we need to ask ourselves the most fundamental questions of our time: “How can the world be better prepared for future crises?” and “How can the world make the move away from short-termism towards long-term thinking in building future-oriented policies and cooperation mechanisms?”

Find out in more detail what HLAB members have to say in the upcoming Q&A Compendium, which will be made available on the HLAB website:

Join UN DESA, HLAB members and youth experts on 25 May for an intergenerational discussion on "Big Questions for the Global Economic Recovery," part of the UN DESA Global Policy Dialogue Series. Register here by 24 May,

The event will also be streamed live on UN DESA’s Facebook page.