Ambitions Are Affordable for Asia and the Pacific

Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana is United Nations
Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the United
Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific
(ESCAP).

By Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana
BANGKOK, Thailand, Apr 4 2019 (IPS)

Three years of implementation of the transformative 2030 Agenda
for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific shows the
region has some catching up to do.

Despite much progress, the region is not on track to reach the
17 Sustainable Development Goals set out in the United Nations 2030
Agenda for Sustainable Development. We are living in a time of
booming prosperity, yet many are getting left behind. Basic needs,
such as the freedom for all from hunger and poverty, ill-health and
gender-based discrimination, and equal opportunity for all are
elusive. Economic, social and planetary well-being has a price tag.
Calculations by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission
for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) show that it is mostly affordable
for the region.

Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

Realizing ambitions beyond growth

What will it take to realize the ambitious 2030 Agenda focused
on strengthening the three pillars of sustainable development?

The 2019 edition of the ESCAP’s flagship publication Economic
and Social Survey for Asia and the Pacific is asking for the region
to raise ambitions beyond mere economic growth. Countries facing
high and growing levels of inequality and environmental degradation
will have to change course from pursuing a growth path that
neglects people and the planet.

The 2019 Survey forecasts continuing robust growth in the region
which remains the engine of the world economy. Amid rising global
uncertainty that challenges the Asia-Pacific region’s economic
dynamism, there is a need for investments that not only sustain
growth but also build social and environmental capital.

ESCAP analysis shows the region needs to invest an additional
$1.5 trillion every year to reach the Goals by 2030. This is
equivalent to about 5 per cent of the region’s GDP in 2018, or
about 4 per cent of the annual average GDP for the period
2016‒2030.

At $1 per person per day, this investment is worthwhile. It
could end extreme poverty and malnutrition for more than 400
million people. A quality education for every child and youth would
become possible, as would basic health care for all. Better access
to transport, information and communications technology (ICT) as
well as water and sanitation could be ensured. Universal access to
clean and modern energy, as well as energy-efficient transport,
buildings and industry could be achieved. Climate and
disaster-resilient infrastructure could be built. Resources could
be used more effectively, and the planet protected.

Most of this investment is needed to protect and nurture people
and the planet. Making a better world for our people by ending
poverty and hunger and meeting health and education Goals, requires
some $698 billion per year. Protecting our planet by promoting
clean energy and climate action and living in harmony with nature,
requires $590 billion per year. Another $196 billion per year is
needed to invest in improving transport and ICT infrastructure as
well as access to water and sanitation services.

Of course, in a region as diverse as ours, investment needs vary
considerably. Least developed countries need to invest the most at
16 per cent of GDP while South and South-West Asia has an
investment need of 10 per cent of GDP to reach the Goals by 2030.
More than two-thirds of the investment in these countries will be
in reducing social deficits – poverty, malnutrition, lack of
health care and education as well as job creation. Landlocked
developing countries need to invest most in improving transport and
ICT infrastructure as well as water and sanitation services. East
and North-East Asia and, to a lesser degree, South-East Asia, need
to focus on clean energy and climate action investment.

Paying the bill

It should be remembered that the Goals support each other and an
investment in one area has a positive effect on another. Good
health depends not only on access to healthcare services but also
nutrition, safe water, sanitation and good air quality. Education
for all also promotes gender equality. Resource efficiency supports
climate change mitigation.

Besides harnessing these synergies, sustainable development
financing strategies will have to turn to public and private
finance. The good news is that most countries in the region have
the fiscal space to invest in the Goals. There is also a massive
untapped pool of private financial assets estimated at $51 trillion
in developing Asia-Pacific countries alone. Enhanced regional
cooperation would also help the region offset external risks and
build resilience by tapping into regional resources.

Above all, leadership will be crucial in making the transition
to a development strategy that balances all dimensions of human and
planetary well-being. The 2019 Survey aims to stimulate a regional
dialogue and offers guidance on accelerating progress towards the
Goals in the region.

The post
Ambitions Are Affordable for Asia and the Pacific
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Excerpt:

Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana is United Nations
Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the United
Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific
(ESCAP).

The post
Ambitions Are Affordable for Asia and the Pacific
appeared
first on Inter Press
Service
.

Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
Ambitions Are Affordable for Asia and the Pacific