Asia-Pacific Struggles to Meet Sustainable Development Goals by 2030

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The Asia-Pacific region is facing significant challenges in meeting the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, according to the Asia and the Pacific SDG Progress Report 2024 released by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (Escap). The report highlights that the region is unlikely to meet the deadline before 2062, which is 32 years behind schedule.

By 2030, the region is projected to achieve only a third of the SDGs, and it will require an extraordinary collective effort to even reach this target. Escap Director Rachael Beaven emphasized that small island developing states face the most significant challenges in progressing towards the SDGs.

While the region’s average progress towards achieving all SDGs is increasing, it is happening at a slower pace. Progress was at 4.4 percent in 2017 and improved to 17 percent in 2023. However, Beaven noted that the region is not on track to meet any of the 17 goals by 2030.

The report also highlights the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on global progress, with ongoing crises and conflicts disrupting supply chains and creating uncertainty. To address these challenges, Escap emphasizes the need for recalibrating domestic policies.

Despite the overall challenges, there have been positive advancements in achieving Goal 1 (eliminating poverty) and Goal 9 (sustainable industry, innovation, and infrastructure). However, these advancements are insufficient to meet the 2030 targets. Escap attributes the progress in eradicating extreme poverty and reducing the overall proportion of people living below nationally defined poverty lines to the positive trajectory towards eliminating poverty.

Goal 9’s advancement has been driven by the development of resilient and inclusive infrastructure, along with improved access to information and communication technology. However, progress in other vital areas such as addressing hunger (Goal 2), improving health and well-being (Goal 3), ensuring clean water and sanitation (Goal 6), expanding affordable and clean energy (Goal 7), and building sustainable cities and communities (Goal 11) has been comparatively modest. These areas demand increased attention for meaningful improvement.

Escap emphasizes the immediate priority of climate action (Goal 13) due to its ongoing regression. It stresses the need to incorporate effective climate action into national policies, strengthen resilience to climate-related hazards, and improve adaptive capacities. Additionally, there is a need for enhanced statistical systems to measure progress accurately and inform better policy responses.

Urgent action is also needed to improve access to decent work and support economic growth (Goal 8). Focusing on responsible consumption and production (Goal 12), safeguarding life below water (Goal 14), and life on land (Goal 15) is essential for the Asia-Pacific region to advance the 2030 Agenda. Escap highlights the indispensable role of building partnerships for sustainable development (Goal 17) since these areas have shown the least progress since 2015.

Despite the challenges and the significant delay in progress, Escap emphasizes that the vision set out in the 2030 Agenda remains relevant today. The 17 SDGs continue to provide a comprehensive framework for the bold and transformative action needed to build a greener, fairer, and better world by 2030. Escap calls for accelerating progress towards the goals, considering the existential challenges the region faces across the social, economic, and environmental fronts.

In conclusion, the Asia-Pacific region faces challenges in achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. While progress has been made in certain areas, there is a need for increased attention and effort in addressing hunger, improving health and well-being, ensuring clean water and sanitation, expanding affordable and clean energy, and building sustainable cities and communities. Urgent action is also required in climate action, access to decent work, responsible consumption and production, and safeguarding life below water and on land. By embracing the 2030 Agenda and working collectively, the region can strive towards a greener, fairer, and better future.

Source: The Manila Times

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