The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) convened a regional forum on sustainable development (RFSD) in preparation for the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in July. The meeting served as a platform to discuss ways to accelerate the implementation of the SDGs, with a focus on the compounding of crises faced by the region, and to support the presentation of countries’ voluntary national reviews (VNRs) at HLPF 2024.

The Forum also highlighted opportunities to strengthen linkages between national, regional, and global follow-up and review and to identify short-, medium-, and long-term solutions for realizing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Asia-Pacific countries, especially least developed countries (LDCs), landlocked developing countries (LLDCs), and small island developing States (SIDS).

According to ESCAP’s 2024 SDG progress report, the region is on course to be 32 years late in meeting all of the SDGs. “Despite these trends, we know that there is energy and potential for the countries of the Asia-Pacific region to build on their proven innovation to scale up action,” said President of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in video remarks. “The region has lessons to share across all the SDGs, including disaster risk reduction policies, the uptake of digital technologies and trade and regional economic cooperation.”

“While the challenges ahead are formidable, the transition we envisage opens vast avenues of opportunity,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and ESCAP Executive Secretary Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, addressing the Forum. “We can herald an era of sustainable prosperity if we choose to act decisively and collaboratively,” she emphasized, identifying six entry points to amplify transformative actions across multiple SDGs: food systems; energy access and affordability; digital connectivity; education; jobs and social protection; and climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution.

In her remarks, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed underscored the essential role of international cooperation to navigate global challenges and achieve the SDGs. She highlighted the Summit of the Future as an opportunity to strengthen global cooperation in supporting the achievement of sustainable development, peace, and human rights.

The Forum assessed progress on the Goals undergoing in-depth review at the HLPF in July – SDG 1 (no poverty), SDG 2 (zero hunger), SDG 13 (climate action), SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions), and SDG 17 (partnership for the Goals). It also conducted a series of SDG roundtables to formulate policy recommendations on the SDGs under review, as well as on:

  • Systemic challenges that present barriers to further progress, taking into consideration human rights and gender equality;
  • Promising solutions and innovations at the national level;
  • Concrete priority actions, especially within the areas of policy planning, finance, and data and statistics; and
  • Areas for regional cooperation to address the transboundary dimensions of the Goals and challenges.

The 11th Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD) was the first of five RFSD’s to convene in 2024. It took place in Bangkok, Thailand, from 20-23 February under the theme, ‘Reinforcing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and eradicating poverty in times of multiple crises: The effective delivery of sustainable, resilient and innovative solutions in Asia and the Pacific.’ Its outcomes will contribute to the HLPF’s July session and the Summit of the Future in September. [Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development 2024] [ESCAP Press Release] [UN News Story]