Asia-Pacific governments adopted a road map for regional cooperation on implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, during the 2017 Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development.
Also at the APFSD, ESCAP, ADB and UNDP launched a joint report on the status of poverty eradication in the region, an SDG Data Portal, and an outlook assessment on each SDG.
31 March 2017: Asia-Pacific governments adopted a draft road map for regional cooperation on implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The road map, adopted during the 2017 Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD), includes priority areas, implementation arrangements, and a process to track progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The road map builds on discussions at the 2015 and 2016 sessions of the APFSD, and it will be considered for endorsement by the 73rd session of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in May 2017. The road map aims to: facilitate regional-level cooperation, with a focus on the SDGs’ means of implementation (MOI) and the themes of social development, disaster risk reduction (DRR), climate change, management of natural resources, connectivity and energy; emphasize implementation by developing countries, the least developed countries (LDCs), landlocked developing countries (LLDCs), small island developing States (SIDS) and other countries with “special needs;” enhance women’s leadership and decision-making; and emphasize the need to underpin sustainable development with peaceful and inclusive societies, equality and good governance. ESCAP will support the road map’s implementation.
The road map focuses on the SDGs’ means of implementation, as well as social development, DRR, climate change, management of natural resources, connectivity and energy.
Also at the 2017 APFSD, ESCAP, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) launched a joint report, titled ‘Eradicating Poverty and Promoting Prosperity in a Changing Asia-Pacific.’ It finds that one in ten people in the region still live in extreme poverty, and over one in four in the region’s developing countries experience “multiple dimensions” of poverty, with impacts on their health, education and standard of living. The report calls to pursue pro-poor urbanization, effective management of rural-urban transitions, and investment in sustainable infrastructure, since people in extreme income poverty are increasingly found in cities. It also recommends addressing “systemic, sociocultural, and geographic factors that underpin marginalization, exclusion, and lack of human rights protection.”
On infrastructure, Bambang Susantono, ADB, said the region will need an estimated US$1.7 trillion annually in climate-resilient infrastructure investments, and that the report highlights efforts to bridge the infrastructure gap in ways that contribute to inclusive and sustainable development. On urbanization, Haoliang Xu, UNDP, said the urbanization boom in the region, while powering innovation, economic growth and prosperity, also coincides with an increase in inequality and exclusion in some areas. He called on cities to align their policies with the SDGs, and prioritize building resilience for their most vulnerable citizens.
Alongside the report, ESCAP, ADB and UNDP launched a SDG Data Portal and an outlook assessment on SDGs in the region. The portal contains up-to-date data on the SDG indicators, and is accessible by both governments and stakeholders. The outlook report provides a Goal-by-Goal snapshot of progress, including bright spots, hot spots and emerging issues for the region as it implements the 2030 Agenda.
According to the introduction to the outlook report, the Asia-Pacific region has, on the aggregate level, achieved several of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), but “too many of its people are still not benefiting from growth and progress and are increasingly vulnerable to economic, social and environmental risks.” The report seeks to highlight issues that will require “a concerted effort to fulfil the dream of a region without poverty.” ESCAP, ADB and UNDP have renewed their partnership to track SDG progress and support countries in the region to achieve the 2030 Agenda, according to the report, following on their work together to track progress on the MDGs.
The APFSD also featured a high-level panel on the role of gender equality and women’s empowerment in advancing the SDGs in the region. Speakers called for greater effort by governments to prioritize women’s rights. They highlighted that reducing gender gaps in health, education and labor markets can lower poverty, raise economic growth and productivity, and foster more resilient communities.
ESCAP Executive Secretary Shamshad Akhtar reported that women continue to be paid less than men, with the regional gender pay gap estimated at 20% for 2015, and are more likely to work for low wages, without formal contracts, labor rights, and adequate social protection. Sharman Stone, Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls, said her country views the SDGs as a chance to “strengthen partnerships between governments, civil society and commercial sector” to support opportunities for women and girls. According to Maithree Wickramasinghe, founding Director of the Centre for Gender Studies at the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka, the root causes of inequality for women and girls must be prioritized and addressed. These can include: oppressive sociocultural norms and practices; legal and policy-based discrimination; the burden of unpaid work responsibilities; household power dynamics; and sexual and gender based violence.
APFSD 2017 took place in Bangkok, Thailand, from 29-31 March 2017. Its conclusions and recommendations will inform discussions of the 2017 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). [Regional Road Map for Implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific: Note by the Secretariat] [ESCAP Press Release on Road Map] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Road Map Discussions in 2015] [UN Press Release on Poverty Report] [ESCAP Press Release on Poverty Report] [Eradicating Poverty and Promoting Prosperity in a Changing Asia-Pacific] [Asia-Pacific Sustainable Development Goals Outlook] [ESCAP Press Release on Gender Panel][SDG Knowledge Hub story about SDG Data Portal]