Major transformations needed to put sustainable development in Asia Pacific back on track

General Press Releases Tuesday July 17, 2018 10:51
Bangkok--17 Jul--ESCAP-SCAS

New York (ESCAP News) Increased engagement from all sectors of society, along with a whole of government approach will be key to advancing the United Nation's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the region where at the current rate of progress, only one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is on track to be met by 2030.

This was the resounding message at the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) in New York today where participants heard the outcomes of the 5th Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD) – a meeting convened by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in March 2018 in preparation for the HLPF. The APFSD convened annually is the primary platform for countries, civil society and the UN to share achievements, challenges and opportunities arising from the 2030 Agenda.

"In light of the complex risks facing the region, the 5th APFSD stressed the importance of inclusive, multi-stakeholder participation, including by disadvantaged, poor, vulnerable and risk-exposed populations, and engagement by all levels of government," said Co-Chair of the APFSD, Mr. Levan Davitashvili, Minister of Environment Protection and Agriculture, Georgia in his report to the Forum.

"As many of our challenges from disasters to connectivity cut across boarders, Member States also reiterated the importance of regional cooperation for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, and reaffirmed the key role of ESCAP in coordinating and supporting regional actions," he added.

ESCAP's latest assessment shows only SDG 4 on achieving quality education and lifelong learning is on track to be met by 2030. In several critical areas, including the health of the oceans, forest conservation and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the region is heading in the wrong direction.

"Asia and the Pacific must step up its efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda," said Deputy Executive Secretary of ESCAP Mr. Kaveh Zahedi on the sidelines of HLPF. "It is striking to see that despite a period of robust growth inequalities are widening, between and among countries, particularly in income, access to essential services, and exposure to natural disasters."

It is not all bad news, however. Asia-Pacific has seen welcome advancements over the past three years, including in some of its least developed countries. Healthier lives are being led and wellbeing has increased. Poverty levels are declining, albeit too slowly. Innovation is powering new industries and infrastructure, and the region's track record in poverty reduction over the past few decades is unparalleled.

"Asia-Pacific may not be fully on track to achieve the 2030 Agenda yet, but the experience and dynamism of the region combined with its notable successes in reducing poverty levels over the past few decades, provides the perfect foundation for the transformations needed," added Mr. Zahedi.


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