By Sandra Cordon
The Asia-Pacific region is likely not on track to achieve the 2030 Agenda and many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and may even be slipping backwards on some measures, according to a 2019 progress report.
The report on the Regional Road Map for Implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific warns, however, that there is not enough data to properly assess progress on some critical issues, including climate change, disaster risk reduction and resilience. It urges faster capacity building by countries in the region to improve their ability to collect and share statistics.
“Climate change has already taken hold in the Asia-Pacific region,” says the report, prepared for an annual review of the regional road map at the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development.
“Higher temperatures, the rise in sea level and extreme weather events related to climate change are likely having a major impact on the region, increasing risks to economies and natural and physical assets and potentially compounding development challenges, including with respect to poverty, food and energy security and health.”
Yet despite its importance, it is not possible to adequately assess where or if progress is being made on climate change and many other development goals because of insufficient information, says the report.
In fact, that data shortage is one of five priority areas the report singles out for inadequacies in the information needed to assess progress. Others include management of natural resources and energy, in addition to disaster risk reduction and resilience, plus climate change.
The report aimed to assess aspects of 11 priority areas for regional cooperation in the Asia and Pacific in order to meet the 2030 Agenda; as well as 62 means of implementation to achieve SDG targets.
It notes that some progress has been made towards achieving goals related to connectivity and technology, as well as others related to social development, also known as ensuring “no one is left behind.”
Another two priority areas of cooperation – one defined as Finance and the other, North-South, South-South International and Regional Partnerships – are showing mixed signs of progress, says the report.
Both areas are on track to meet some targets but the second is regressing in areas related to cooperation in mobilizing additional financial resources, it says.
“In Asia and the Pacific, high levels of economic growth have lifted great numbers of people out of poverty,” the report says. “However, if the region is to sustain the growth needed to achieve the SDGs and to enhance resilience, it must shift to a more resource-efficient growth trajectory and a growth trajectory more able to meet the needs of present and future generations.”
The report follows the 2018 decision by members of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) to set out a regional road map for implementing the 2030 Agenda in Asia and the Pacific in order to “facilitate cooperation at the regional level” on achieving sustainable development. The road map emphasizes the enhancement of leadership and decision-making by women in all aspects of society.
ESCAP is the regional development arm of the United Nations for the Asia-Pacific region and is made up of 53 member states and nine associate members.
Learn more about these topics at the 18th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) 22 April – 3 May 2019 and at the Global Landscapes Forum in Bonn, Germany, 22-23 June 2019.