ESCAP Survey Finds Needed Investment to Reach SDGs is “Within Reach”
UN Photo/M Guthrie
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ESCAP’s annual economic and social survey finds that environmental degradation has reached “alarming levels” that threaten the sustainability of past development gains.

The report calls for transitioning away from a single-minded emphasis on economic growth to support more resilient growth and development.

A proposed investment package includes USD669 billion to develop human capacities and support basic human rights, USD590 billion to live in harmony with nature and achieve clean energy for all, and USD196 billion for improved access to water and sanitation, transport and information and communications technology.

4 April 2019: The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) launched its annual economic and social survey, which assesses the region’s economic conditions and near-term economic growth prospects. The report calls for more strategic investments to ensure the world achieves the SDGs by 2030.

An additional annual investment of US$1 per person per day would enable countries to achieve the SDGs by 2030.

The report titled, ‘Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2019: Ambitions beyond growth,’ finds that environmental degradation has reached “alarming levels” that threaten the sustainability of past development gains. In addition, five countries in the region are among the world’s ten most vulnerable countries to climate change. Further, too many people are being left behind; the report calls for transitioning away from a single-minded emphasis on economic growth and changing mindsets to reduce the wide economic, social and environmental deficits in the region. The authors underscore the potential for sustainable infrastructure to support more resilient growth and development and invest in people and the planet. The 2019 survey also finds that investments to accelerate a transition to a more resource-efficient system of production and consumption would deliver high economic returns and reduce carbon emissions.

The annual survey states that an additional annual investment of USD1.5 trillion, or approximately USD1 per person per day, would enable countries to achieve the SDGs by 2030. The authors argue that this cost is “within reach for many countries” given their potential to leverage private investment. ESCAP proposes an investment package equivalent to 5% of the combined gross domestic product (GDP) of Asia-Pacific developing countries in 2018, including USD669 billion to develop human capacities and support basic human rights, USD590 billion to live in harmony with nature and achieve clean energy for all, and USD196 billion for improved access to water and sanitation, transport and information and communications technology (ICT). The report calculates the annual investments needed to achieve the SDGs are “largely affordable” for the region although the least developed countries (LDCs) and countries in South Asia will require help.

The report also observes that regions will need to invest in specific areas to address particular challenges. The LDCs and South and South-West Asia should increase investments in ending poverty and hunger and reaching health and education targets. Pacific Island developing States will need additional investments in disaster-resilient infrastructure. East and North-East Asia should accelerate climate action and investments in clean energy.

Speaking at the report launch, ESCAP Executive Secretary Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana said achieving the SDGs will require a change in mindset and “an economic philosophy which puts people and the planet first.” ESCAP Deputy Executive Secretary Hongjoo Hahm said the investment gap “is widest in countries which can least afford to narrow it.” He described North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation and multilateral financing mechanisms as essential to accelerating the pace of sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific region. Hahm further identified improved investment efficiency, increased tax revenues and innovative financial investments, such as green bonds, as opportunities to leverage assets managed by the private sector in support of the SDGs. [ESCAP Press Release] [Report Launch Information] [Publication: Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2019: Ambitions Beyond Growth] [Executive Summary] [ESCAP Blog on Report]

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