The report is the result of an effort by the ADB to understand the reasons behind limited progress on the environmental dimensions of the SDGs in Asia and the Pacific.
The report suggests that the lack of integration across SDG targets may be the result of “limited progress in examining interlinkages”.
The report also highlights promising experiences in the region, showcasing examples from a number of countries on SDG alignment and financing.
January 2019: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) released a report that shares insights from a regional stocktake on SDG implementation in the region. The report also aims to present a compendium of tools to help developing countries implement the environmental dimensions of the SDGs.
The report titled, ‘Strengthening the Environmental Dimensions of the SDGs in Asia and the Pacific: Tools Compendium,’ is the result of an effort by the ADB to understand the reasons behind limited progress on SDGs 12 (responsible consumption and production), 14 (life below water) and 15 (life on land) in the region, all closely linked with SDG 13 (climate action). Through a stocktaking exercise, the ADB found that many countries in the region have made commitments to the environment and have been successful in raising awareness on the SDGs, but focus on sector-based approaches that ignore the interlinkages among the Goals and do not result in meaningful action.
As an illustration, the report finds that reducing marine pollution (SDG target 14.1) is only a priority in three of nine countries surveyed but conserving coastal and marine areas (SDG target 14.5) is a priority for six countries. The report observes that these two targets are closely related, suggesting “a failure to understand the links between targets within the SDGs.” Similarly, five out of 14 surveyed countries identified promoting access to genetic resources and fair sharing of benefits (SDG target 15.6) as a priority while nine out of 14 countries prioritized protecting biodiversity and natural habitats (SDG target 15.5). The report observes that benefit sharing is an opportunity for countries to ensure their population is not disadvantaged by biodiversity management activities, but countries do not appear to have recognized this linkage.
Cambodia created a National Sustainable Development Council to facilitate SDG coordination.
The report suggests that the lack of integration across SDG targets may be the result of “limited progress in examining interlinkages among more than half of the countries” surveyed in the region. Only four countries in the region have reviewed interlinkages among the SDGs, their targets and responses to those interlinkages. Countries identified difficulties with interagency coordination and coherence as barriers to progress early in the policy process. During monitoring and evaluation stages, countries identified technical capacity, costs of collecting environmental data, identification of appropriate monitoring indicators and human resources as barriers to progress.
The report also highlights promising experiences in the region, including Bhutan’s alignment of national result areas with the SDG indicators and Indonesia’s biodiversity and climate change budget tagging. Cambodia created a new agency, the National Sustainable Development Council, to facilitate SDG coordination. Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Sustainable Development and Wildlife undertook an SDG mapping exercise to identify and match government agencies with SDG targets and strengthen institutional coordination.
On financing, the report cites “positive signs” the Asia-Pacific region may be able to raise and allocate sufficient resources to implement the environmental dimensions of the SDGs. Nepal has mobilized funding from environmental tax reforms and assigned SDG codes to all programmes and projects under the national budget to track how budget allocations contribute to the SDGs. Indonesia’s Ministry of Finance is developing a Green Planning and Budgeting Strategy in coordination with a senior advisory panel and inter-ministerial team. The strategy focuses on agriculture, forestry, irrigation, education and health as opportunities for green growth. Viet Nam’s Ministry of Planning and Investment and Ministry of Finance oversee regular allocations of resources from the state budget to support data collection and preparation of progress reports on national SDG implementation. Ministries and local governments have to prepare and submit budgets for action on the SDGs to receive funding for implementation. Viet Nam’s government also encourages voluntary contributions from the private sector to fund implementation.
The report identifies a number of tools to support policymakers in understanding the interlinkages among the SDGs and improve integration of environmental dimensions of the SDGs into national policy, plans and programmes. For SDG 14, the report identifies marine spatial planning, state of the coast reporting and integrated information management systems for coastal and marine environments as key tools. For SDG 15, the report suggests integrated ecosystem management, natural capital accounting for water and wetlands and restoration opportunities assessment methodology. For SDGs 14 and 15, the report highlights the role of Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans, ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA), ecosystem services review and geographic information systems (GIS), among others. Government institutions in both Mongolia and Sri Lanka are using “systems thinking,” simulation and modeling tools and network analysis to support their SDG implementation. The report concludes there is “no need to invent new concepts”; existing decision-making tools, approaches and methods can be scaled up to promote more coordinated and integrated approaches and a whole-of-government response to the environmental dimensions of the SDGs. [Publication: Strengthening the Environmental Dimensions of the SDGs in Asia and the Pacific: Tools Compendium] [Report Landing Page]