The Great Upheaval: Resetting Development Policy and Institutions for the Decade of Action in Asia and the Pacific

Sunday, 8 May, 2022

The Great Upheaval: Resetting Development Policy and Institutions for the Decade of Action in Asia and the Pacific 

Originally published by UNDP on 28 March 2022


At the turn of the 21st century, Asia pulled one billion people out of poverty in one generation, a meteoric rise suddenly stalled by the COVID-19 pandemic. This volume examines the strengths of the Asian-Pacific response to the pandemic and weaknesses that the region must re-engineer to rebound.

The 18 authors included in this volume reimagine social and economic pathways to inform policymakers, development practitioners and other readers about opportunities to revamp production modes and networks to rekindle sustainable growth. They call for bolstering investments in universal public health, education and social protection to strengthen human capabilities and recommend marshalling a suite of global public goods to fortify societies for new digital and climactic realities.

Home to three-fifths of the world’s population, the Asia-Pacific Region already accounts for close to half of all global output. By 2050 – after a detour of two centuries and a few pandemics – Asia-Pacific can again become a centrifugal economic and social force. This volume sets out options for policymakers to consider as we head into a new Asia-Pacific Century, one where economic strength will be necessary but insufficient by itself, as inclusion, resilience and sustainability – once seen as moral choices – become imperatives for the planet’s future.


  • Swarnim Waglé is the chief economic advisor at the UNDP Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific in New York. Waglé also chairs the Institute for Integrated Development Studies, a South Asian think-tank. Previously, he served as a member and vice-chair of the National Planning Commission of Nepal (for three intermittent years between 2014 and 2018) and as a senior economist at the World Bank in Washington, DC, and UNDP in Hanoi, Colombo and New York.
  • Kanni Wignaraja is the United Nations assistant secretary-general and director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific. Previously the director of the United Nations Development Operations Coordination Office, Wignaraja has worked for the UN for over 25 years in the United States and the Asia-Pacific and Africa Regions, including as UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Zambia. Wignaraja has published articles on human rights, development policy, leadership and sustainability.

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