The Build Back Better Agenda and COVID-19

20th September 2020
Author: Laura Bolton

The phrase ‘build back better’ (BBB) emerged from natural disaster recovery following the 2004 SE Asia Tsunami and the 2005 Pakistan earthquake. This rapid review focuses on a small number of multilateral and regional organisations to get a view of how BBB is being framed and approached in relation to COVID-19. United Nations (UN) reports are using the term ‘recovering better’. Discussions within the UN High-level Advisory Board on Economic and Social Affairs on ‘recovering better’ are centred around challenges related to economic uncertainties; digitalisation; inclusive economic structures; sustainable financing for sustainable (and owned) development; bottom-up production structures for sustainable development; and equality and democracy. The OECD suggests that BBB should identify policy options that have positive outcomes for employment creation and better outcomes for long-term sustainability and resilience. The current UK government recovery strategy for the UK prioritises health first, protection and restoration of livelihoods second, and thirdly the social effects of social distancing.

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Suggested Citation

Bolton, L. (2020). The Build Back Better agenda and COVID-19. K4D Helpdesk Report. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies.


20th September 2020


Continent: Global

Country: Pakistan, United Kingdom