Sixth Asia-Pacific SD Forum Warns of Rising Inequalities
Photo by IISD/ENB | Sean Wu
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The Sixth Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD-6) has warned that the region will not achieve the SDGs by 2030 unless progress is significantly accelerated, especially on addressing inequalities in wealth and opportunities.

The Forum this year reviewed progress on SDG 4 on education, SDG 8 on decent work, SDG 10 on reducing inequalities, SDG 13 on climate action, SDG 16 on peace and SDG 17 on partnerships.

On the occasion of the Forum, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) launched a publication on how progress might be accelerated through promoting social inclusion and empowerment.

29 March 2019: The Sixth Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD-6) warned that the region will not achieve the SDGs by 2030 unless progress is significantly accelerated, especially on addressing inequalities in wealth and opportunities. On the occasion of the Forum, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) launched a publication on how progress might be accelerated through promoting social inclusion and empowerment.

APFSD-6 took place from 27-29 March 2019, in Bangkok, Thailand. ESCAP convenes the APFSD annually as a preparatory conference for the July session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in New York. The APFSD is a multi-stakeholder event involving Member States, UN bodies, and Major Groups and other Stakeholders (MGoS).

At the Forum’s opening, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed warned of negative trends in access to basic services, wealth inequality, and society’s ability to withstand the impacts of climate change, despite current efforts to enhance data and statistical coverage, scale up partnerships and promote people-centered policies, strategies and programmes.

ESCAP Executive Secretary Armida Alisjahbana called for increased social investments, saying “most countries can afford it.”

ESCAP Executive Secretary Armida Alisjahbana called on governments to increase social investments to quicken the pace of progress, noting that, while taking into account the great diversity of countries in the region, “most countries can afford it.” The Forum reviewed progress on SDG 4 on education, SDG 8 on decent work, SDG 10 on reducing inequalities, SDG 13 on climate action, SDG 16 on peace and SDG 17 on partnerships.

Participants recognized progress in the areas of poverty reduction, education and health, while acknowledging rising inequalities in income and access to resources, education, technology, employment opportunities and social protection. Noting the impacts of climate change in the region, especially on vulnerable populations, they highlighted the need to strengthen inclusive decision-making on environmental protection, natural resource management and food security. They also emphasized the need for coherent and integrated policies, good governance and “effective investments” in development.

APFSD-6 launched the Asia-Pacific SDG Gateway, a portal providing access to resources for assessing regional and sub-regional progress on the SDGs. The Gateway provides interactive charts showing progress by Goals, targets and indicators for countries, sub-regions and the Asia-Pacific region as a whole. It also brings together ESCAP’s current and previous statistical publications related to the SDGs, and gives an overview of the methodology for assessing progress.

ESCAP, with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), launched a report titled, ‘Accelerating Progress: An Empowered, Inclusive and Equality Asia and the Pacific.’ The report highlights the value of promoting rights and justice, norms and institutions, participation and voice, and resources and capabilities as a strong basis for promoting achievement of the SDGs. The authors examine the potential for action in these areas with regard to three “pivotal challenges”: coping with the impacts of climate change, boosting domestic resource mobilization, and strengthening social accountability and civic engagement. They provide evidence that empowerment and social inclusion are necessary approaches to reducing inequality and accelerating progress toward the SDGs. [APFSD-6 Website]


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