Sustainable Development Goals can guide Asia and the Pacific to build back better, says UN report

Bangkok: The Asia-Pacific region must accelerate progress everywhere and urgently reverse its regressing trends on many Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to achieve its ambitions by 2030, says a report released today by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

The 2021 edition of the Asia and the Pacific SDG Progress Report shows that the region fell short of its 2020 milestones for the Goals, even before entering the global pandemic.  In the last decade, Asia and the Pacific has made extraordinary progress in good health and well-being (Goal 3), which may partly explain its relative success in reducing the health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its population. Yet despite these hard-won gains, the region faces many challenges, such as providing an adequate healthcare workforce, reducing premature deaths and improving mental health.

An alarming observation in the report is regressing climate action trends (Goal 13) and life below water (Goal 14). The Asia-Pacific region is responsible for more than half of the global greenhouse gas emissions and adverse impacts of natural disasters on people and economies increase year-by-year. As we find our way out of this pandemic, the report suggests we must focus efforts on more equitable and greener growth.

“Recovery measures are an excellent opportunity for us to rethink our options for development pathways that are inclusive, more resilient, and respect planetary boundaries,” said United Nations Under-Secretary-General and ESCAP Executive Secretary Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana. “As we enter the Decade of Action to deliver the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we need to reinforce our collective commitment to the SDGs and let it provide our compass for building back together, better and greener.”

The report highlights the impact of mandatory lockdowns and social distancing measures on data collection activities, particularly from vulnerable groups. To build back better, Governments should renew their commitments to the SDGs’ monitoring framework so that recovery can accelerate a global transformation as promised by the 2030 Agenda.

As part of its commitment to support countries with national level follow-up and review of the SDGs, ESCAP has developed a “National SDG Tracker” tool for countries looking to replicate the progress assessment found in the report. National governments can use the tool to produce snapshots of progress towards the ambitions of the 2030 Agenda.

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