logoDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)

1. What decisions or new strategies has the governing body of your organization taken to guide the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs? Please provide a brief summary below, including the overarching vision of your governing body for the Decade of Action on the SDGs.

In 2015 the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, at its seventy-first session, adopted resolution 71/1, in which it decided to restructure the conference structure of the Commission to be fit for purpose for the 2030 Agenda, which resulted in the addition of Financing for Development and Science, Technology and Innovation in the subsidiary structure of the Commission supported by dedicated sections in ESCAP, allowing comprehensive coverage of the means of implementation in ESCAP’s work. ESCAP’s long-standing work on energy was elevated with the establishment of a Committee on Energy supported by an Energy Division. These steps ensured that the ESCAP conference and secretariat structure were fully aligned with the 2030 agenda.

To advance its commitment to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, the Commission in 2016 adopted resolution 72/6 on Committing to the effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific. Actions called for in the resolution were further endorsed by the ECOSOC resolution 2016/11. The Commission requested the secretariat, among other things, to promote the balanced integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development and provide annual updates and recommendations to member States, including through the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development; and to strengthen support to member States in their efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda in an integrated approach, inter alia, with analytical products, technical services and capacity-building initiatives through knowledge-sharing products and platforms, and to enhance data and statistical capacities.

In 2017, through resolution 73/1, the Commission formally institutionalized the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development, established in 2014 in the context of the post Rio+20 process, as part of the conference structure. Moreover, through resolution 73/9, it adopted the Regional Road Map for the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific. The resolution called for enhanced cooperation among relevant organizations in the United Nations system and other stakeholders in the region in support of the Regional road map for implementing the 2030 Agenda in Asia and the Pacific. The Regional road map, which promotes the balanced integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development through regional cooperation in a set of priority areas that support effective pursuit of sustainable development by member States, serves as a framework for regional cooperation and support in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, in particular by least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, small island developing States, countries in conflict situations and post-conflict countries and other countries with special needs in the region.

The Regional road map embodies ESCAP’s vision for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SGDs. Thefull document can be accessed at http://www.unescap.org/sites/default/files/publications/SDGs-Regional-Roadmap.pdf

2. At the secretariat level, what steps has your organization taken (or will it take) in the follow-up to the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs? Please specify actions, including but not limited to the following areas:

2.1 SDG-specific strategies, plans or work programmes;

All subprogramme strategies indicate the SDGs that their work will contribute to at the goal and/or target level in the annual programme plan.

ESCAP has also worked on aligning subregional strategies with the 2030 Agenda, e.g. in the cases of Pacific and ASEAN in collaboration with the subregional organizations.

2.2 Aligning the structure of the organization with the SDGs and the transformative features of the 2030 Agenda, including any challenges and lessons learned in doing so;

Commission resolution 71/1 mandated the establishment of the committee on energy and the addition of science, technology and innovation, and the financing for development to its conference structure. As a result, a new Energy Subprogramme and Division was established and science, technology and innovation, and financing for development, were added to existing subprogrammes. 

Commission resolution 72/6 requested the secretariat, among other things, to provide annual updates and recommendations to member States, including through the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development; and to strengthen support to member States in their efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda. This resulted in dedicated posts and resources being allocated to the follow-up and review of the 2030 at the regional level and support to national efforts, including Voluntary National Reviews.

2.3 Readjusting or updating results-based budgeting and management, including performance indicators;

Starting from 2020, ESCAP is implementing a new monitoring framework in order to be able to collect the required data on performance. Aspart of this monitoring framework, implementing offices are asked to link their outputs to selected SDGs. In terms of budgeting, discussions are on going in the Extended Business Team for UE2, to tag SDGs at the goal and/or target levels.

In the case of project design, ESCAP’s template requires that SDG linkages be indicated both in terms of goals and targets and, how the project contributes to the implementation of the Regional road map. This information is elaborated in Context and strategic alignment part of the project documents.

2.4 Action to enhance support to the principle of "leaving no one behind" and to integrated policy approaches;

In line with ECOSOC resolution 2018/8, ESCAP led the review of the progress in implementing the Beijing Platform for Action in the Asia and Pacific region, in collaboration with UN Women, which culminated in the Asia-Pacific Ministerial Conference on the Beijing+25 Review (November 2019) and the adoption of the Asia-Pacific Declaration on Advancing Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: Beijing+25 Review. As a key analytical input to the Asia-Pacific Ministerial Conference on the Beijing+25 Review (November 2019), ESCAP analyzed national review submissions and detailed progress made, challenges to address & forward-looking policies to enact in order to accelerate the implementation of the Beijing Declaration & Platform for Action in Asia & Pacific in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

As part of its mandate to advance the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, ESCAP has been promoting the catalytic role that gender equality and women's empowerment can play in the implementation of the SDGs through its work in the region. Therefore, by building on the outcomes of this past work and in line with regional development priorities, ESCAP is implementing a project that focuses on fostering effective strategies and policy measures to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment toward achieving the SDGs. The objectives of the project are to: (i) Enhance governments’ capacity to apply knowledge gained from this project in mainstreaming gender in national policy, programmes, plans and budgets towards realizing the 2030 Agenda and to (ii) Enhance regional cooperation among policymakers and practitioners at regional and subregional levels to implement international commitments in advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment and achieving the SDGs.

With regards to disability-inclusive development, in May 2018, ESCAP endorsed the Beijing Declaration, including the Action Plan to Accelerate the Implementation of the Incheon Strategy through ESCAP Resolution 74/7 at the seventy-fourth ESCAP session. The Beijing Declaration and Action Plan clearly articulates the synergies and linkages between the 2030 Agenda, SDGs and the Incheon Strategy to “Make the Right Real” for Persons with Disabilities in Asia and the Pacific – and equips ESCAP member States with policy recommendations on disability-inclusive development to leave no one behind.

At the seventy-fourth ESCAP session, ESCAP member States also adopted Decision 74/30 regarding the composition of the Working Group on the Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities, 2013–2022, for the period 2018–2022. The Working Group convened its fifth session in February 2019, during which it recommended its members to promote disability inclusion in voluntary national reviews of the 2030 Agenda, including the representation of persons with disabilities in the preparation of national review reports; coordinate with the Sustainable Development Goals focal points in their Governments to leverage data collected for the Incheon Strategy indicators for SDG reporting; disaggregate data by disability across the Sustainable Development Goal indicators; and share good practices on disability-inclusive implementation through regional platforms including the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development.

In the spirit of leaving no one behind, ESCAP hosted the first regional launch of the Global Campaign for the ‘Good Treatment of Girls, Boys and Adolescents with Disabilities in the World’ in September 2018, which espoused 10 principles for the protection, well-being and development of girls, boys and adolescents with disabilities.

In promotion of the United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy (UNDIS), aimed at creating an institutional framework for the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, ESCAP organized the Asia-Pacific launch of the UNDIS in December 2019, and has developed a comprehensive implementation plan to operationalize UNDIS systematically in 2020.

The ESCAP secretariat has conducted interdisciplinary research and data analysis to identify population groups furthest behind in access to a range of basic services and opportunities, including education, health care, nutrition, basic water and sanitation, clean energy and decent work.The secretariat has also studied how unequal access to these opportunities and services have changed over time. These results have been published in an online database and in a series of thematic policy papers on inequality of opportunity. Leading up to the adoption of the resolution in May 2018, the ESCAP secretariat had produced three such papers: on decent work, on education and on clean energy. Since May 2018, ESCAP has added three more thematic policy papers, which focus on the furthest behind and access gaps in child nutrition, women’s healthcare and clean water and basic sanitation. By end 2019, the ESCAP secretariat was also finalizing a paper on financial inclusion. The ESCAP secretariat has also produced two publications, namely “Closing the gap: Empowerment and Inclusion in Asia and the Pacific” (the ESCAP theme study for 2019) and the “Social Outlook for Asia and the Pacific 2018: Poorly Protected” (the Social development Division’s biennial flagship report). These two flagship publications have comprehensively analyzed inequality trends and the importance of inclusive social policies to reverse the trends.

The ESCAP secretariat has supported member States and UN country teams from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Papua NewGuinea, Timor-Leste and Turkmenistan with detailed country-specific information and analysis on measuring inequality and leaving no one behind. To build capacity and share knowledge on social protection, the secretariat has updated its online resource facility, the Social protection Toolbox, and also completed four modules on why social protection is needed, how to design inclusive social protection systems, how to implement inclusive social protection schemes and how to finance social protection. The secretariat is currently finalizing a simulation tool that will help countries to see the impact on overall poverty rates, income inequality as well as household’s purchasing power from extending coverage, or increasing benefit levels of new or existing social protection schemes.

2.5 Action to address the interlinkages across SDG goals and targets;

ESCAP has been convening a Regional Learning Platform (RLP) series on policy coherence for disaster risk reduction and resilience annually since 2016 to address the resilience-based linkages across SDG goals and targets.

ESCAP has delivered a number of capacity development workshops on addressing multiple dimensions of infrastructure development (i.e. ICT, transport and energy). Policymakers of Kazakhstan(1), Kyrgyzstan(2) and Mongolia(3) were equipped with tools and knowledge products in their national context, which enabled them to identify opportunities and challenges of infrastructure connectivity, as well as to propose feasible mechanisms to address connectivity deficits in a sustainable manner. Holistic approaches were utilized to explore synergistic opportunities across infrastructure sectors through co-deployment and through methodological and policymaking and planning tools to build climate and disaster resilient infrastructure.

ESCAP work on women entrepreneurship and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSME) financing addresses multiple SDG goals and targets, including targets 5.a (undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources), 8.10 (strengthen the capacity of domestic financial institutions to expand access to banking, insurance and financial services for all), and 9.3 (foster the development of productive capacities through the provision of affordable and stable credit to MSMEs).

ESCAP’s work on transport directly address SDGs 3.6 (road traffic safety and fatality reduction), 11.2 (sustainable, affordable, accessible urban transport systems), 9.1 (resilient regional transport infrastructure). Through the development of sectoral policies, tools and capacities in relation to (i) emission reduction from transport activity, (ii) incentivizing a shift to more environmentally friendly modes of transport for cargo and passengers, (iii) reliable, resilient and climate adapted transport systems, (iv) digitalization and use of smart transport technologies, (v) fuel consumption and alternative propulsion technologies for transport, and (vi) reduced marine pollution from shipping, interlinkages are also made to SDGs 7, 13 and14. Through the development of seamless and sustainable transport and connectivity, transport also addresses issues of poverty, access, food security etc.

ESCAP’s work in energy has recognized the interlinkages across the SDG goals and targets, with particular reference to the relationship between SDG 7 on energy and the broader 2030 Agenda. Through collaboration with member States on a draft Roadmap for electricity connectivity, the need to ensure that connectivity initiatives respond not just to SDG 7 but the other SDGs is incorporated as a strategy of the Roadmap. Similarly, a tool that ESCAP has developed to guide national progress towards SDG 7, the National Expert SDG Tool for Energy Planning, incorporated consideration of other SDG considerations in developing energy development pathways, particularly SDG 13.

The ESCAP initiative on catalyzing women’s entrepreneurship and economic empowerment is contributing to accelerating the achievement ofthe Sustainable Development Goals, especially SDG 5 on achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls. More than 100,000 women entrepreneurs will directly benefit from improved regulatory and legal environment at the national and regional level, innovative financing mechanisms and digital solutions. Through a specially developed fintech fund, women’s bond and impact investment funds, public and private sector funding will be leveraged to invest in women entrepreneurs. Micro entrepreneurs who are unable to access banking services due to constraints such as lack of collaterals and banking history would be able to access financial services; women who run small and medium-sized enterprises would be supported to accelerate their business growth with enhanced access to transformative technology and larger capital. At least one million additional beneficiaries, including women working along the value chain and family and communities will be uplifted from poverty.

In addition, women’s increased income, consumption and investment in education, health and other services would contribute to poverty reduction, as well as sustained and inclusive economic growth in the region. Therefore, this regional initiative will impact on multiple SDGs, including: SDG 1 on ending poverty in all its forms everywhere (target 1.4); SDG 4 on inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all (Target 4.4); SDG 8 on promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth (Target 8.3, 8.5);SDG 10 on reducing inequalities within and among countries (Target 10.2, 10.3); SDG 17 on strengthening the means of implementation and revitalizing the global partnership for sustainable development (Target 17.3, 17.8).

Furthermore, ESCAP prepared a series of knowledge products, including policy briefs and policy papers, on women’s political participation and leadership, unpaid work in Asia and the Pacific, sustainable energy and gender, and designing gender-responsive pension systems. The outputs have supported progress towards targets and means of implementation 1.3, 5.1, 5.4, 5.5, 5.a, 5.b, 8.3, 8.5, 8.8, 10.2, 10.3,10.4, 10.7 and 16.12 of the Sustainable Development Goal indicator framework.

Universal registration for all is recognized in two SDG targets (16.9 and 17.18) and vital statistics are used for nearly 60 of the 232 globally agreed SDG indicators. In 2014, prior to the start of the 2030 Agenda, the Asian and Pacific Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) Decade (2015-2024) was proclaimed. Through the Decade, Governments share a vision for "all people in Asia and the Pacific to benefit from universal and responsive CRVS systems facilitating the realization of their rights and supporting good governance, health and development". Follow-up and review of implementation of the CRVS Decade and its support to the 2030 Agenda will be a focus of a 2nd Ministerial Conference being held in October 2019 and a key contribution of Asia-Pacific governments and development partners to follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda and its SDGs.

  1. Materials of the national consultations in Kazakhstan, 24-25 October 2019, available at https://www.unescap.org/events/addressing-2030-agenda-through-regional-economic-cooperation-and-integration-asia-and
  2. Materials of the national consultations in Kazakhstan, 22-23 October 2019, available at https://www.unescap.org/events/addressing-transboundary-dimensions-2030-agenda-through-regional-economic-cooperation-and
  3. Materials of the national consultations in Mongolia, 21-22 November 2019, available at: https://www.unescap.org/events/addressing-2030-agenda-through-regional-economic-cooperation-and-integration-asia-and-pacific

2.6 Others.

3. What normative, analytical, technical assistance or capacity building activities is your organization providing to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs? Please provide a brief account of the activities you have organized or intend to undertake, including but not limited to the following areas:

3.1 Enhancing national implementation including by supporting the mainstreaming of the SDGs in development plans and policies or through national sustainable development plans/strategies;

ESCAP continued development of contents of various themes at the SDG Help Desk https://sdghelpdesk.unescap.org. The on-line communities of practice discuss the case studies and pilots. For example, the new theme on Digital Technology and SDGs is launched in March 2020 (coming live soon).

Support was provided to enhance policy responses related to environmental challenges. Capacity building support was provided to the National Environmental Commission of Bhutan and its multi-stakeholder task force for the revision of the national environment strategy of Bhutan. A draft strategy has been developed and has been submitted for adoption. Support has also been provided to Bangladesh for the development of an industrial water use policy for Bangladesh, which is to be approved.

ESCAP organized a regional workshop, in collaboration with UNDP, on “Mainstreaming the SDGs into planning, budgetary, financing and investment processes” in November 2019. This workshop is part of ESCAP's ongoing work on changing the mindset and policy directions in light of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with a focus on integrating the SDGs into the decision making of policy makers and the private sector. Attended by government officials from planning and finance ministries from the Asia-Pacific region, the workshop discussed pertinent issues, such as SDG roadmap and investment needs, SDG budgeting, sustainable finance, socially and ecologically responsible investments, and integrated national financing framework.

In terms of analytical work, the 2019 edition of the ESCAP Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific called for “ambitions beyond growth” and provided estimates of the investment needs for achieving the SDGs, to help countries better mainstream SDGs into development plans, policies and financing strategies. It highlighted the need to invest in people and planet. In line with the UN Decade of Action and as way of mainstreaming SDG12 “responsible consumption and production”, the 2020 edition of the ESCAP Survey examines how key stakeholders – governments, businesses and consumers – can take bold and meaningful action towards a sustainable, low-carbon future.

To facilitate peer learning, ESCAP is also compiling selected country case studies (including Indonesia and the Philippines) of how the SDGs are being mainstreamed into national planning and budgetary processes.

ESCAP has supported the mainstreaming of SDGs into national statistical development plans and national plans through capacity building activities focused on navigating policies with data to leave no one behind. A Every Policy is Connected (EPIC) tool has been developed to facilitate a dialogue between policy makers or users of data and statistical offices or data producers to better understand and articulate data priorities for inclusion in national statistical development plans and national plans such as women’s economic empowerment plans. The tool has been successfully developed through trials in Samoa and the Philippines, and further trials are planned for Armenia and Sri Lanka.

Based on a mandate from its member States ESCAP has committed to support members on request with developing roadmaps to guide the implementation of SDG7. ESCAP has developed a tool to guide national planning for SDG7, the National Expert SDG Tool for Energy Planning(NEXSTEP).

ESCAP has developed the Sustainable Urban Transport Index in support of SDG 11.2 and has piloted it in 15 cities in the Asia-Pacific region in 2018-2019, which has helped cities to refine their urban transport policies. Further activities are planned for 2020.

ESCAP is implementing a UNDA project entitled “Promoting a shift towards sustainable freight transport in the Asia-Pacific region” which is meant to assist selected member States to revise or develop new sustainable freight transport policies with a focus on modal shift and broader use of railways. The project is linked to SDGs 7, 9 and 13 and, through reducing reliance on road transport, also to SDG 3.6. Broader regional strategies are expected to emanate from this project, possibly through the establishment of a sustainable freight transport forum or a network of experts.

ESCAP implemented a capacity development project to assist the Philippines with Speed management policies for road safety.

ESCAP has carried out capacity building activities on strengthening efficient coastal shipping in Southeast Asia and on overall sustainable port development and port productivity in coastal States which have assisted port authorities and central government officials to place maritime connectivity in the SDG context by linking it to SDGs 9, 13 and 14.

At the regional level, analytical work intended to demonstrate the links of transport connectivity to the objective of “leaving no one behind” and for ensuring transport system resilience was published in 2019: https://www.unescap.org/publications/review-sustainable-transport-connectivity-asia-and-pacific-addressing-challenges.

3.2 Mainstreaming the SDGs in sectoral strategies, including specific SDG/target strategies;

In 2018, the ESCAP secretariat conducted analysis making the economic case for more efficient management of resources, demonstrating that, among other findings, a 1% improvement in resource efficiency can deliver the region monetary benefits of up to 278 billion US$ which is an amount equivalent to 51% of the entire annual Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the region. To prove concepts, ESCAP implemented projectson waste management, such as the “Closing the loop” project. The work in this area included working with ministries and local authorities in 6 countries to develop low-cost and financially feasible models for Integrated Resource Recovery Centers (IRRCs)- which altered traditional practices of collection, transportation and disposal to ‘waste-to-resource’ approaches, transforming organic waste into marketable compost, biogas and clean electricity- and working in 2 countries on adopting more circular approaches to plastic waste management.

ESCAP worked with the Government of Mongolia and supported the development of the Sustainability Outlook of Mongolia (SOM), which recognizes 4 cross-cutting areas to support implementation of the SDGs all of them related to the sustainable management of natural resources (namely, water management, land planning, industrial use of natural resources and sustainable tourism).

Through the Asia Pacific Disaster Reports, ESCAP provides analytical evidence to support mainstreaming disaster related SDGs in sectoral strategies, specially SDGs related poverty, health, education, agriculture and infrastructure.

The latest edition of the APDR 2019 was further enhanced by sub-regional modules that specifically focus towards building disaster resilience to support different SDGs in sub-regions. The sub-regional modules provided the basis for the SDG sub-regional consultations in disaster risk reduction for the upcoming APFSD in 2020.

ESCAP and the International Think Tank for Landlocked Developing Countries delivered the subregional workshop on ICT co-deployment along transport infrastructure in East and North-East Asia in Ulaanbaatar on 20-22 November 2019. The cross-sectoral scope of the consultation enabled participants to identify common challenges and opportunities, provide policy recommendations to enhance cross-sectoral synergies in infrastructure development, cognizant of considerations related to ICT co-deployment, disaster resilience, social inclusion and viable financing. Interactive exercises on specific methodologies also equipped government officials with respective tools tailored to the Mongolian context. The meetings highlighted the impacts of integrated sectoral policymaking to achievement of the SDGs.

ESCAP has supported the mainstreaming of SDG 14 through a Development Account project to strengthen the statistical capacity of countries to achieve SDG 14. The project was developed to respond to the global, regional and national demands to close data gaps through enhanced partnerships and integrated data and statistics towards the attainment of SDG 14 and other ocean-related SDG targets and indicators. The project focused on (a) enhancing partnerships on ocean-related statistics and governance (b) providing reliable statistical guidance on ocean accounting, and (c) building national capacity to produce and apply ocean accounts for national ocean policy and priorities. The project leveraged existing tools, mechanisms and capacity of national, regional and global stakeholders to ensure relevance of project activities to current efforts and to maximize project accomplishments within a short implementation period. As such the project made use of national working groups and committees, ESCAP’s programme on environment statistics, the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, as well as international statistical guidelines such as the System of National Accounts (SNA), the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting Central Framework (SEEA-CF) and the SEEA Experimental Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA-EEA).

Within 15 months, the project established the first-ever global partnership on ocean accounts, produced a coherent guidance document, training materials and related research studies on ocean data and statistics, accounts, and governance, and strengthened national capacity through pilot studies on ocean accounts.

ESCAP has also developed an “SDG 14 Accelerator Methodological Guide”. The SDG 14 Accelerator supports governments to identify and prioritize actions that accelerate implementation of the SDG 14. The SDG 14 Accelerator identifies pivotal interventions, which can generate positive multiplier effects on SDG delivery. The outcome is an Accelerator Action Plan which defines a route for accelerating priorities within SDG 14 which is feasible and maximizes benefits.

ESCAP has also supported mainstreaming of SDG target 16.9 through implementation of a Asian and Pacific Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Decade (2015-2024), particularly through the Decade’s Regional Action Framework which facilitates collaborative action at the local, provincial, national and international levels by enabling multiple stakeholders to align and prioritize their efforts under agreed upon goals and targets and includes mainstreaming CRVS into national priorities.

ESCAP has launched the development of a comprehensive SDG transport education programme under XB funding, aiming to increase capacities of transport professionals to mainstream the SDGs in the design and implementation of inclusive and sustainable transport policies through the cooperation among transport research, education and training institutes and governments.

3.3 Supporting the strengthening of national institutions for more integrated solutions;

The complexities of transport as a cross-cutting sector are addressed by involving multiple institutions at the national level. For example, a matrix for measuring institutional strength in the development of intermodal and logistics facilities in CLMVT countries was created in 2018-2019which led to a number of recommendations being implemented by member countries. On-going activities (2019- 2020) include assessment of the role of well-designed legal and regulatory frameworks for the sustainability and further development of seamless multimodal transport across borders.

At the request of the Myanmar government, ESCAP is providing technical assistance support to the Department of Rehabilitation, Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, in developing Myanmar’s national disability strategy. The process of developing the strategy includes the institutional strengthening of Myanmar’s Department of Rehabilitation to ensure the entity is fit-for-purpose and able to mainstream disability inclusion into all policy sectors.

3.4 Data and statistical capacity building;

ESCAP has undertaken intensive data and statistical capacity building in support of the SDGs and 2030 Agenda. Member States have endorsed a collective vision and framework for action for advancing official statistics for the 2030 Agenda which has guided regional statistical capacity building efforts since 2016. In 2018, the collective vision and framework for action was complemented by a declaration, Navigating Policy with Data to Leave No One Behind, which commits member States to strengthen national statistical systems in nine areas including the use of frontier technologies for addressing data gaps.

ESCAPs statistical capacity building efforts are supported by three tranches of the UN Development Account. Tranche 10 supports capacity building efforts to advance official statistics for the 2030 Agenda in the areas of economic, social, poverty, trade and environment statistics as well as strengthening a country’s means of implementation. Tranche 11 supports strengthening the capacity of countries to achieve Goal 14. Tranche 13, to commence in 2021, supports strengthening the capacity of selected countries to navigate policy with data to leave no one behind. ESCAP’s statistical capacity building efforts are also supported by extra budgetary contributions by the Governments of Japan (for statistical training by the Statistical Institute for Asia and the Pacific (SIAP)), the Russian Federation (to support training in SDG indicators for Central Asia countries) and the United Kingdom (for economic statistics).

ESCAP’s statistical capacity support has also been strengthened through a Regional Advisor of Environment Statistics (commenced 2017) and Regional Advisor on Official Statistics for the 2030 Agenda (commenced 2019).

ESCAP is working with governments and development partners to improve CRVS as part of the Asian and Pacific CRVS Decade. Capacity building has included assessments of national CRVS systems, monitoring regional progress, supporting production of vital statistics from civil registration, and raising awareness of the importance of CRVS for both the provision of a legal identity and vital statistics production.

Analytical work on statistics are extensive and includes briefs, working series papers and blogs. For example, in the last 18 months, the following were released:

SDG 17

SDG 5

SDG 14

SDG16

SIAP is acting as the secretariat function to the Network for the Coordination of Statistical Training in Asia and the Pacific, which was started in September 2013. Members of the Network are 13 countries and 13 international organizations. The Network identified the following priority areas: (a) identification of training gaps in understanding, measuring and monitoring the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), (b) development of a database of training resources compiled and accessed by Network members, and (c) development of common curricula for priority statistics in (i) agricultural and rural statistics, (ii) gender statistics and (iii) economic statistics.

ESCAP provides a set of training modules and resources that trainers of statisticians in basic economic statistics can use in designing training workshops in the SIAP website.

3.5 Harnessing science, technology and innovation for the SDGs;

On technology policy, ESCAP has been and will be supporting governments in the Asia-Pacific region to direct technology policies towards the SDGs, ensuring that inclusive dimensions form part of the policies.

With regards to innovation, the OECD defines innovation as “the implementation of a new or significantly improved product (good or service), or process, a new marketing method, or a new organizational method in business practices, workplace organization or external relations.”

ESCAP has been and will be supporting governments to put in place innovative business practices – such as social enterprise, inclusive business and impact investing. These concepts can be defined as business practices that aim to generate social and environmental impact, alongside economic return, hence addressing the three dimensions of sustainable development.

3.6 Multi-stakeholder partnerships;

Partnering for Sustainable Development: Guidelines for Multi-stakeholder Partnerships to Implement the 2030 Agenda in Asia and the Pacific was prepared jointly by the United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS), Tokyo, and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), Bangkok. The guidelines provide practical guidance for United Nations member States, policymakers, practitioners and other stakeholders to build, strengthen and implement effective multi-stakeholder partnerships aimed at accelerating implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the Asian and Pacific region. The guidelines also highlight some of the key challenges in, as well as main success factors for, building successful multi-stakeholder partnerships towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

ESCAP has established the ESCAP Sustainable Business Network through which it is collaborating with the private sector on addressing SDGs. The ESBN is organized into six task forces: Banking and Finance; Digital Economy; Disaster and Climate Risk Reduction; Green Economy; Innovation; and Youth and Women Entrepreneurship.  https://esbn.unescap.org/

3.7 Bolstering local action and supporting sub-national plans/strategies and implementation for the SDGs;

ESCAP is supporting local action through a range of activities and initiatives with local authorities, network partners and other UN entities. ESCAP is leading a project on Integrating the SDGs into local action in support of the 2030 Agenda in Asia and the Pacific. The project, funded through the eleventh tranche of the Development Account, is assisting Battambang (Cambodia), Nadee (Thailand), Naga City (The Philippines), Nasinu (Fiji), and Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia) to prioritize a subset of urban related SDGs and develop sustainable urban resource management policies. The project began in 2018 and will complete in 2021.

ESCAP is developing a sustainable urbanization forecasting tool through a China-funded project, working with cities in China, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to better understand the impacts of future growth and strengthen local actions in support of the 2030 Agenda.

ESCAP and UN-Habitat, along with other regional technical partners, launched the Asia Pacific Mayors Academy to build the capacity of newly elected/appointed mayors to develop actions and initiatives which contribute to the 2030 Agenda.

ESCAP developed a report, The Future of Asian and Pacific Cities, produced in cooperation with UN-Habitat, the European Union, Asian Development Bank, Rockefeller Foundation and UNDP, which includes recommended policy pathways to guide future urbanization in order to deliver on the 2030 Agenda. ESCAP has also supported urban dialogue forums, including organizing the 7th Asia Pacific Urban Forum (APUF-7), held in October 2020, at which ESCAP, UN agencies and external partners launched the Penang Platform for Sustainable Urbanization. To follow up on The Future of Asian and Pacific Cities and APUF-7 outcomes, ESCAP and partners will assist cities in the region to adopt policy pathways and develop Voluntary Local Reviews (VLRs) in support of the 2030 Agenda.

3.8 Leveraging interlinkages across SDG goals and targets;

ESCAP developed a methodology and an e-learning course on Integration of the SDGs into National Planning launched in 2018 and from the 771 learners using, over 350 learners benefitted from eight facilitated online e-learning sessions (4-6 weeks each) held from 7 May 2018 until 30 November 2019. Additional learners followed the course outside the facilitated sessions. In addition, the methodology and tools were very successfully applied during specific VNR training sessions which assisted member states, including Viet Nam, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Mongolia, DPRK, India to develop the Integration chapter of their VNR reports.

3.9 Supporting policies and strategies to leave no one behind;

ESCAP is supporting six countries (Bangladesh, Cambodia, Fiji, Nepal, Samoa and Viet Nam) to accelerate their efforts toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly focusing on advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment. In the region, entrepreneurshipis a major pathway for women’s economic empowerment and equality, which can, in turn, have a ‘multiplier effect’ on family well-being, poverty reduction and sustainable economic growth. Yet women’s entrepreneurship is hindered by numerous challenges, including structural and regulatory barriers, and lack of access to finance and information and communication technology tools for business development. ESCAP assisted policymakers and regulators in developing gender-responsive small-and-medium enterprise policies to include special provisions for women entrepreneurs, and provided capacity building support to establish an inter-ministerial and multi-stakeholder platform to foster an enabling policy and business environment for women’s entrepreneurship in the target countries.

ESCAP, in partnership with the United Nations Project Office on Governance (UNPOG) of the Division for Public Administration and Development Management, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and together with IT for Change launched the eGov4Women Online Toolkit, an innovative public resource related to the design and implementation of gender-responsive e-Government in the Asia-Pacific region. The toolkit represents the first region-wide toolbox to support the gender-mainstreaming of digitalized public service delivery and participation. It provides key pointers for policymakers on gender-responsive design of e-service delivery, e-participation and connectivity, and introduces a capabilities-based approach to tracking progress on E-Government for women’s empowerment.

ESCAP has also developed an online gender resource facility to support ESCAP member States in implementation of the Asian and Pacific Ministerial Declaration on Advancing Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The online resource facility supports evidence-based policy formulation, governance practices, service delivery and practical initiatives that foster gender equality and women’s empowerment in the Asia-Pacific region.

In the area of disability-inclusive development, ESCAP developed the following analytical products to equip ESCAP member States with the requisite knowledge, tools and good practices to implement disability-inclusive policies: its core, biennial publication “Disability at a Glance 2019”, which focused in 2019 on investing in accessibility in Asia and the Pacific; a policy paper “Disability-Inclusive Public Procurement: Promoting Universal Design and Accessibility; and a guide to support disability-disaggregated reporting “From Indicators to Action: Operationalizing Incheon Strategy indicators to support disability-inclusive development”. In partnership with other stakeholders, ESCAP also provided technical support in adapting its e-learning tool on disability-inclusive disaster risk reduction into national languages and contexts.

In terms of technical assistance and capacity building support, ESCAP organized a regional forum on advancing disability-inclusive development in Guangzhou, China in December 2019 that provided a much-needed platform for participating member States to identify technical cooperation needs and to share good practices and lessons learnt in implementing the Incheon Strategy and Beijing Action Plan, in alignment with the 2030 Agenda and SDGs. In the upcoming year, ESCAP is also organizing a series of subregional training workshops in the areas of disability statistics and social protection for persons with disabilities to equip policymakers in developing and implementing evidence-informed policies that are disability-inclusive.

At the country-level, ESCAP conducted national stakeholder workshops on disability data collection in Azerbaijan, the Federated States of Micronesia and Sri Lanka in 2018. In 2020, at the behest of the Bhutan and Myanmar governments, ESCAP is providing technical support to the former in developing its disability assessment system and to the latter in developing its national disability strategy.

The Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development is an essential element of the 2030 Agenda. To support the implementation of the Programme of Action at the regional level, ESCAP has developed a monitoring framework for the Asian and Pacific Ministerial Declaration on Population and Development, working in collaboration with UNFPA. This framework will enable Governments and other stakeholders to monitor progress towards the achievement of the Asian and Pacific Ministerial Declaration on Population and Development, which serves as the region-specific guidance on implementation of the Programme of Action. Using SDG indicators and disaggregations, this framework will enable identification of progress and gaps, and groups who are being left behind in terms of achieving the population and development-related goals of the 2030 Agenda.

The 2002 Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing provides a comprehensive framework to support older persons and address the challenges of population ageing in the context of the 2030 Agenda. Specifically, ESCAP co-organized training courses for policymakers and other actors on the design of comprehensive pension policies that include gender strategies and increase courage to ensure that no one is left behind. ESCAP has also worked towards developing a statistical tool to measure progress in the Madrid International Plan of Action, which helps identify countries to identify policy gaps, areas for regional cooperation and good practices. In 2020, ESCAP is working towards a dashboard to highlight statistical indicators to measure ageing, the situation of older persons and ageing policies, which further supports countries in designing policies and strategies to leave no-one behind. ESCAP also supports member States in mainstreaming ageing into other policies, e.g. policies on gender equality and disaster risk reduction.

Ensuring that international migration is safe, orderly and regular is crucial for sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific region. ESCAP is working with its partners in the Regional UN Network on Migration for Asia and the Pacific to support the implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in the region by carrying out the first Asia-Pacific regional review of implementation of the Global Compact in 2020. This review will take stock of the overall progress made with regard to the implementation of the 23 objectives of the Global Compact in the Asia-Pacific region, with the participation of all relevant stakeholders, in order identify good practices, gaps and challenges and support future work towards ensuring safe, orderly and regular migration in the region. The review will be carried out through an intergovernmental meeting, supported by the production of the 2020 Asia-Pacific Migration Report.

In addition to the knowledge products listed under Section 2.4, ESCAP Secretariat has also developed multiple capacity-building tools as well as normative products to support policymakers in leaving no one behind.

  • To build capacity and share knowledge on social protection, the secretariat has updated its online resource facility, the Social protection Toolbox: the platform contains more than 120 good practices in social protection around the world that are constantly being updated and added to; and videos, infographics (both interactive and printable), animations and online games on topics such as the importance of social protection, the social protection floor, social protection and the SDGs, social protection and human rights, as well as facts and figures on poverty, inequality and social protection in Asia and the Pacific.
  • In response to a recommendation by the ESCAP Committee on Social Development, at its fifth session held in November 2018, to develop a regional modality for strengthening regional cooperation on social protection, the ESCAP Secretariat established the Group of Experts in early 2019. The Group of Expert consists of official representatives of ESCAP members and associate members and is represented by all five ESCAP subregions. Following the two meetings held in Bangkok in June and November 2019, the draft modality on social protection was disseminated to all ESCAP members and associate members for further feedback and discussion. The modality is expected to support ESCAP members and associate members in accelerating progress towards the realization of universal social protection and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  • The Secretariat is currently finalizing the Social Protection Impact and Financing Tool, that will help countries estimate the potential impact of various social protection schemes on poverty, inequality and household purchasing power, by specifying criteria related to programme eligibility, levels of coverage and transfer values. Using the modelling tool, the Secretariat will examine the policy impact and costs of developing a comprehensive social protection system for thirteen countries in Asia and the Pacific.
  • As part of the project funded by the Forum for East Asia-Latin America Cooperation (FEALAC) [http://www.fealac.org/new/index.do], an inter-regional multilateral forum of 36 member countries (http://www.fealac.org/new/document/filedown.do?idx=36c594868aff9e93f266323f313f0686) from East Asia and Latin America, ESCAP secretariat is developing: an online platform on inequality that hosts an interactive online assessment tool on multidimensional inequality and its drivers covering all FEALAC countries for which data are available; In-depth studies of national policies that have proven to effectively reduce inequality; In-depth studies of private sector initiatives that have proven to effectively reduce inequality; a database of good practices to reduce multidimensional inequality; and a database and network ofexperts and organizations in FEALAC Member Countries working on inequality.
  • Lastly, under the Regular Programme of Technical Cooperation (Section 23) in 2020, the Secretariat will produce five national reports on the furthest behind in Cambodia, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Mongolia and Papua New Guinea. Building on these reports, national training sessions and workshops will be conducted to enhance policymakers’ skills and awareness of ways to identify the furthest behind and build stronger analytical platforms for effective policymaking.

3.10 Supporting the mobilization of adequate and well-directed financing;

ESCAP has been conducting analytical, technical assistance and capacity building activities to support its member States in mobilizing adequate and well-directed financing in the following areas: domestic resource mobilization; infrastructure financing and public-private partnerships; micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) access to finance; and green finance and capital market development. On domestic resource mobilization, ESCAP published a book on ‘Tax Policies for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific’ in 2018, which included analyses on municipal finance, tax incentives, progressive taxation and environmental taxes. It subsequently conducted six in-depth case studies and delivered two capacity-building training courses for policy makers on sub-national fiscal management and public revenue mobilization. On infrastructure finance and public-private partnerships, ESCAP published a book on ‘Infrastructure Financing for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific’ in 2019. ESCAP also set up a regional platform, the Infrastructure Financing and PPP Network of Asia and the Pacific, to share experiences and build capacities of PPP units on the effective use of PPP mechanisms as well as other infrastructure financing. The Network, which currently has 23 members, met three times in 2018 and 2019 and is currently developing a web portal and project pipeline. On MSMEs access to finance, ESCAP conducted detailed national studies for six countries in the region on the basis of a common framework. On green finance and capital market development, ESCAP published a report entitled ‘Finance for Climate Action in Asia and the Pacific: Regional Action Agenda to Access Debt Capital Market’ in 2017, which discusses a number of policy actions that countries could implement to access the emerging green bond markets in the region. ESCAP is also providing technical and advisory services to national financial institutions in six countries to support the development of green bonds and similar financial instruments to leverage investment in low-carbon, climate-resilient development.

ESCAP produced more than 10 policy briefs relating to investment needs to achieve the SDGs, across various sectors such as social protection,health, education, clean energy, sustainable infrastructure, and biodiversity. These policy briefs also highlighted policy and financing options. Through the Development Account project on “Supporting the Countries with Special Needs in Asia-Pacific in meeting the challenge of resource mobilization for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, ESCAP has helped enhance policymakers’ capacity in utilizing existing financial resources and mobilizing additional financial resources for achieving the SDGs. Various studies on financing areas such as financing flows and gaps, climate finance, financial inclusion and capital market development were prepared for the three beneficiary country groups (least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, and Pacific small island developing States) and the three beneficiary countries (Bhutan, Cambodia and Vanuatu) of the project. ESCAP also organized several capacity-building workshops to discuss and disseminate these studies with a wide range of stakeholders. A website was created for each workshop organized to increase the dissemination of all the knowledge on resource mobilization in countries with special needs. The project has received additional funding, with a plan to include Bangladesh and Tajikistan as beneficiary countries.

ESCAP has developed a policy book and training programme on Promotion and Facilitation of Foreign Direct Investment for Sustainable Development, based on which national training workshops were held in Islamic Republic of Iran (2018) and Timor-Leste (2019).

3.11 Reducing disaster risk and building resilience;

The Asia-Pacific Disaster Resilience Network (APDRN) is a cumulative continuation of its efforts to strengthen regional resilience. With an emphasis on partnerships, innovations, and a hazard cluster approach, the network comprises inter-related streams which: (1) support development of multi-hazard early warning system platforms with priority given to floods and droughts; (2) build regional capacity for data, statistics and information management, and (3) enhance regional knowledge for policy and decision support systems using the next generation of analytical tools.

The 2019 Asia Pacific Disaster Report, launched on August 22, 2019, highlights the new disaster riskscape of the region revealing that with the addition of slow-onset disasters, annualized economic losses more than quadruple to USD $675 billion in Asia and the Pacific. The report geolocates the region’s hotspots and estimates the amount that countries would need to invest to outpace the growth of disaster risk in the region. The Report and its accompanying sub-regional modules demonstrate how to use the average annual loss methodology to estimate specificities of sub-regional impacts, exposure and vulnerability to disasters and climate change.

The release of the UN-ASEAN joint study “Ready for the Dry Years” released in Myanmar, and subsequent in-country policy dialogues in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Viet Nam have propelled high-level discussions to develop an ASEAN-wide political response to drought resilience-building.

ESCAP has developed novel methodologies for multi-hazard disaster risk assessment for resilient infrastructure in North and Central Asia (NCA) and is currently training government officials and policymakers from key infrastructure sectors on the methodology. (https://www.unescap.org/events/development-account-project-addressing-transboundary-dimensions-2030-agenda-through-regional)

ESCAP, as the Co-chair of the Thematic Working Group on Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience (TWG-D3R), has actively supported a one UN response to disasters including the 2015-2016 El Nino and the 2019 Iran floods. The TWG supports regional training for cooperation framework and supports the high level of country demand for risk analysis and assessment.

ESCAP, together with partners is supporting the World Bank and WMO led South Asia Hydromet Forum (SAHF) to operationalize multi-hazard approaches to manage floods, drought, heat waves and slow onset disasters in the risk hotspots of the sub-region. Here, ESCAP will develop a strategy where the SAHF can substantially contribute to future South Asia SDG forums (sub-regional consultation arm of the APFSD) to build institutional linkages to the SAHF and evolve a collective plan of action to implement disaster and climate resilience measures in development planning.

ESCAP, together with WMO, has actively supported two intergovernmental regional body, namely, the ESCAP/WMO Typhoon Committee (TC) and the WMO/ESCAP Panel on Tropical Cyclones (PTC), for their members jointly address tropical cyclones and related disasters. In line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 and in support of the SDG implementation in their member States, ESCAP will continue providing technical assistance for multi-hazard early warning systems and promoted impact-based forecasting through capacity building workshops that brought meteorological, hydrological and disaster management agencies together.

Through ESCAP’s project “Addressing the Transboundary Dimensions of the 2030 Agenda through Regional Economic Cooperation and Integration” is strengthening capacity of NCA countries to develop disaster resilient policies and mechanisms for trans-boundary infrastructure connectivity.

ESCAP’s regional learning platforms (RLP) introduced policy coherence as a comprehensive response to the global development frameworks including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The 2018 RLP built the capacity of participants to provide analytical support to the process of achieving coherence among the SDGs in their respective countries through innovative and evidence-based approaches. In addition to sharing good practices, the learning platform presented innovative tools and approaches, such as the systems approach to prioritizing development investments, understanding the risk transmission mechanism across the SDG goals and targets, ex-ante multi-sector risk assessment, and measuring risk and resilience for planning and investments.

ESCAP and the taskforce on Disaster and Climate Risk Reduction of the ESCAP Sustainable Business Network organized a roundtable on “Advancing Maritime Sector Strategies to Augment Tsunami Monitoring with Economic, Safety and Environmental Co-benefits”. Held on 22 August 2019, the roundtable explored using the infrastructure and fleets of commercial shipping companies, undersea cable companies and private ocean-based infrastructure such as oil platforms in expanding tsunami monitoring systems.

3.12 Supporting international cooperation and enhancing the global partnership;

Partnerships can be a way to increase the impact and effectiveness of ESCAP in the region. Indeed, partnerships with regional and subregional organizations remained a key element of work during the past two years. The secretariat worked with a range of regional and subregional partners, including under formal cooperation agreements. These partners include ADB, ASEAN, the Economic Cooperation Organization, the Eurasian Development Bank, the Eurasian Economic Commission, the Greater Tumen Initiative, the Islamic Development Bank, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, the Pacific Islands Forum secretariat, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.

ESCAP and ASEAN continued to collaborate on the implementation of the Plan of Action to Implement the Joint Declaration on Comprehensive Partnership between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the United Nations (2016–2020). In order to identify areas and modalities of cooperation, ESCAP led the preparation of the publication entitled Complementarities between the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: A Framework for Action. The report is the first outcome of an initiative to support ASEAN member States to implement the two agendas in an integrated way.

With its multidisciplinary nature and convening power, ESCAP has a unique ability to bring together a variety of stakeholders and to strengthen sustainable development projects that share knowledge and mobilize expertise, technology and financial resources. It plays a key role in supporting member States in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda by promoting multi-stakeholder partnerships and contributing directly to the partnership-related targets under Sustainable Development Goal 17. The secretariat has engaged in a range of initiatives and programmes to support and enable North-South, South-South, international and regional partnerships.

Through the Regional Space Applications Programme for Sustainable Development, ESCAP engaged in South-South and triangular cooperation to strengthen geospatial information-sharing and early warning systems to guard against natural disasters and build resilience. The satellite-derived products and services for disaster management offered to member States included near real-time scenes, archived satellite imagery and damage maps. These were provided in collaboration with the Regional Space Applications Programme for Sustainable Development members and strategic partners such as the United Nations Institute for Training and Research Operational Satellite Applications Programme, the Office for Outer Space Affairs, the United Nations Initiative on Global Geospatial Information Management, and other international and regional entities. The Asia-Pacific Plan of Action on Space Applications for Sustainable Development (2018–2030), which was adopted by the Third Ministerial Conference on Space Applications for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific and endorsed by the Commission, is intended to guide work in the region for the next decade with a view to enhancing cooperation and the contribution of space applications to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Through the Regional Collective Vision and Framework for Action to Advance Official Statistics for the 2030 Agenda and the regional declaration, Navigating Policy with Data to Leave No One Behind, ESCAP engaged in international cooperation to strengthen many statistical domains including disaster-related statistics, gender statistics, economic statistics and environment statistics. An Asia-Pacific Disaster-Related Statistics Framework, endorsed by the ESCAP Commission in May 2019, will form the basis of global consultations in 2020 for possible adoption as a global framework for disaster-related statistics by the UN Statistical Commission. Technical guidance on Ocean Accounts, developed through a development account project led by ESCAP in 2019, will be considered by the global UN Committee of Experts on Environmental-Economic Accounting for possible inclusion in a revised, global manual on Ecosystem Accounting. The 2019 SIAP Management Seminar was held around the theme of Future of Economic Statistics, co-hosted with UN DESA Statistics Division, as regional input into global deliberations on the Future of Economic Statistics under the auspices of the UN Statistical Commission.

http://www.unsiap.or.jp/programmes/ms_materials/ms14.html

And a regional proposal for indicators to monitor the environment-gender nexus, developed in conjunction with UN Women Asia-Pacific, was discussed with the Global Inter-Secretariat Working Group on Gender Statistics led by UN DESA Statistics Division.

Through the Asian and Pacific Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) Decade (2015-2024), endorsed by the Commission, the region is enhancing global partnerships and supporting international collaboration. The Decade is supported by a coalition of partners including UN DESA Statistics Division, UNICEF, UNFPA, World Bank, Plan International, Bloomberg and Secretariat for the Pacific Community. Inconjunction with the partners, preparations have begun for the Second Ministerial Conference on CRVS throughout 2019, including a midterm review of progress.

To maximize the impact of its interventions and pooled resources, ESCAP continued to work with the member States and partners to manage the ESCAP Multi-Donor Trust Fund for Tsunami, Disaster and Climate Preparedness in Indian Ocean and Southeast Asian Countries.

In partnership with the Government of Thailand and the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation, ESCAP organized the Regional Consultation on South-South Cooperation in Asia and the Pacific: Towards the Buenos Aires Plan of Action 40th Anniversary. The Regional Consultation addressed various South-South cooperation issues, including trends, challenges and opportunities in Asia and the Pacific in support of the 2030 Agenda. It also provided the region’s input into the outcomes of the Second High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation. The secretariat, the Governments of Thailand and Indonesia and the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation launched the first Asia-Pacific Directors General Forum for South-South and Triangular Cooperation. The Forum provided a platform for the heads of development cooperation and South-South cooperation agencies and units operating in developing member States in the region to exchange knowledge, experience, lessons learned and good practices in South-South cooperation. It also helped coordinate information-sharing between providers and users of South-South cooperation to match solutions with demand. The secretariat also contributed to the Directors General Forum of ASEAN Countries on Development Cooperation, convened by the Government of Thailand (in August 2019, in Bangkok).

The Asia-Pacific Research and Training Network on Trade took an innovative approach to supporting South-South and triangular cooperation. Under its recent initiative on supporting equitable economic development in ASEAN, the Asia-Pacific Research and Training Network on Trade brought together officials and researchers from ASEAN countries to conduct collaborative research. The results contributed to assessing and managing the impact of non-tariff measures in the context of development-oriented responses in trade policy areas. By promoting equitable economic development in ASEAN, the Asia-Pacific Research and Training Network on Trade helped to strengthen institutions, narrowed development gaps and encouraged sustainable growth in the subregion.

In 2019, ESCAP continued to support international cooperation on trade as a key means of implementation of the SDGs. ESCAP and ADB, together with UNCTAD, WTO and OECD organized the 9th Asia-Pacific Trade Facilitation Forum on Digital and Sustainable Trade Facilitation forRegional Prosperity, hosted by India. ESCAP also collaborated with the other United Nations Regional Commissions to conduct the UN Global Survey on Digital and Sustainable Trade Facilitation, and with UNCTAD on analyzing the links between non-tariff measures and the SDGs, providing data for evidence-based policy making and cooperation in these areas. Finally, ESCAP facilitated cooperation between member states in drafting a roadmap for implementation of the Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-Border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific, as well as accession of Mongolia to the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement.

ESCAP has established the ESCAP Sustainable Business Network through which it is collaborating with the private sector on addressing SDGs. The ESBN is organized into six taskforces: Banking and Finance; Digital Economy; Disaster and Climate Risk Reduction; GreenEconomy; Innovation; and Youth and Women Entrepreneurship.  https://esbn.unescap.org/

In 2018, ESCAP and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean formed a new partnership with the Forum for East Asia-Latin America Cooperation and established a multi-donor fund focused on trade and investment promotion; science, technology and innovation; infrastructure and transport; and public policies and public-private alliances for sustainable growth. There are currently two ongoing interregional projects under this partnership.

3.13 Others.

4. The high-level political forum (HLPF) is the central platform for the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. Has your organization participated in or supported the work of the HLPF? If yes, please specify your involvement in the following areas:

4.1 Supporting the intergovernmental body of your organization in contributing to the thematic review of the HLPF;

ESCAP organizes, since 2014, the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD), an annual inclusive and intergovernmental forum which supports the Asia-Pacific region in preparations for the global High-level Political Forum by enhancing capacity, capturing and sharing regional perspectives and supporting the review of progress toward implementation of the 2030 Agenda https://www.unescap.org/apfsd/. The APFSD is informed by a series of sub-regional consultations, held in the last quarter of each year.

4.2 Contributing to policy/background briefs for the HLPF;

ESCAP leads the drafting of SDG profiles and entry areas profiles at the regional level. It also leads the SDG Partnership Report, in collaboration with UNDP and ADB. The report and in depth profiles strengthen the regional follow and review process by supporting regional dialogue on the theme of the HLPF. In 2019, the SDG Partnership Report focused on Accelerating progress: An empowered, inclusive and equal Asia and the Pacific. In 2018, the theme of the report was Transformations towards sustainable and resilient societies in Asia and the Pacific.

To promote transparency and regional follow-up to the SDGs and 2030 Agenda, ESCAP has introduced an annual SDG Progress report and released an online SDG data gateway. The annual SDG Progress Report is now in its fourth year (the 2020 release will be launched on 25th March) addresses whether Asia and the Pacific, and its sub-regions, is on track to meet the seventeen Goals of the 2030 Agenda and whether, under its current trajectory, is likely to meet the 169 targets of the 2030 Agenda. The SDG Gateway provides access to data for the global SDG indicators plus results of the SDG progress methodology. Users can access data, the SDG progress results and methodology, select regions and sub-regions, and access ESCAP analytical products.

4.3 Helping organize SDG-specific events in the preparatory process;

A consultative process on SDGs under review was initiated in 2017. This process involves all UN agencies, and includes developing goal profiles through a consultative online process, in preparation for the APFSD. The profiles of goals under in-depths review can be found here for 2019, and here for 2018.

4.4 Organizing side events or speaking at the HLPF;

ESCAP organizes side events at the HLPF in cooperation with different partners and features in the main programme through the official reporting on the APFSD from its Chair and dedicated intervention by the ESCAP Executive Secretary in the “Regional dimension” session. ESCAP supported the launch of the UNSDG: learn, where the SDG Help Desk is included in one of the main resource platforms. (https://www.unsdglearn.org/region/asia-and-the-pacific)

4.5 Supporting the VNR process.

The APFSD supports the preparation of VNRs from the region through a dedicated session in the main programme, a VNR training workshop organized in cooperation with UNDESA, a VNR learning café’ and dedicated side events. In 2018 and 2019, ESCAP implemented the second and third phase of its Rapid Response Facility project that assists countries in the Region for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda with a specific focus on follow-up and review and support to the VNRs. Over 15 countries from the Asia-Pacific region have been supported in the preparation of their VNRs including through innovative tools such as the VNR Twinning between Armenia-Kyrgyzstan and Georgia-Uzbekistan.

5. How has your organization cooperated with other UN system organizations to achieve coherence and synergies in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs? In this regard, has your organization launched or intend to launch any joint programmes or projects in collaboration with other UN entities? Are there any results or lessons you would like to highlight that might help improve the design and impact of such efforts? Has your organization participated in any of the following coordination systemwide mechanisms or any other relevant platform - CEB, UNSDG, EC-ESA Plus, regional coordination meetings, UN-Energy, UN-Water, UN-Ocean, IAEG, IATT? Please specify which and indicate any suggestions you may have about improving collaborations within and across these mechanisms/platforms.

ESCAP has been coordinating its work with all other UN system organizations through the Regional Coordination Mechanism and the regional United Nations Sustainable Development Group for Asia-Pacific. Building from the reform proposals of the Secretary-General for the United Nations development system at the regional level, in 2019 the meetings of the Regional Coordination Mechanism and the UNSDG Asia Pacific were held back to back at the Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development 2019 setting in motion the process of operationalizing the regional reform process. Building on this momentum, all four subsequent meetings in 2019 and 2020 were organized jointly as one meeting and focused on operationalizing the Secretary General’s recommendations for the regional reform and resulted in a concrete collective roll-out plan for operationalizing the reform proposals in Asia and the Pacific.

The entire United Nations development system has been mobilized to contribute to the Asia-Pacific Forums on Sustainable Development. All resident coordinators from the region were invited and those RC from countries engaged in the VNRs were closely involved throughout the preparatory process (including providing technical assistance to countries in their VNR preparations) and in the follow-up and participation at HLPF. A special segment at the Forum engaged RCs in a dialogue with member States and stakeholders on the VNRs. Regional entities were also mobilized to prepare and lead roundtable discussions on the cluster of goals under review. In 2019, UNESCO, UNICEF and ESCAP contributed on Goal 4, ILO, UNEP, UNDP and ESCAP contributed to Goal 8, UNESCO, ILO, IOM, UNDP and ESCAP contributed to Goal 10, UNISDR, UNFCCC, UNEP, UNESCO and ESCAP contributed to Goal 13, UNDP, UNICEF, OHCHR, UNODC and ESCAP contributed to Goal 16. All UNDS entities were also invited to organize side events and pre-events. For 2020, UNEP, UNDP, ILO, UN WOMAN, UNDRR, FAO, WFP, UNICEF, UN HABITAT, UNOPS, UNFCCC, and UNFPA have been engaged in the preparations for the Forum.

ESCAP has also made its knowledge products and platforms available to the whole United Nations development system. In 2018, ESCAP has established a Sustainable Development Goals Help Desk (SDG Help Desk) to support policy makers from member States in the Asia-Pacific region with tools, methodologies and opportunities for sharing best practices on developing effective strategies, policies and institutional mechanisms for implementation of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and the SDGs. The Help Desk is now being expanded to become the Asia-Pacific Knowledge Management Hub and act as a portal to access data, knowledge products and services from all United Nations system organizations in Asia-Pacific. Since 2016, ESCAP has been preparing the Asia-Pacific SDG Progress Report, which analyses SDG trends as well as data availability for monitoring progress in Asia and the Pacific and its five subregions. It assesses progress towards the SDGs and the gaps which must be closed for these to be achieved by 2030.The Asia and the Pacific SDG Progress Report 2020 was launched in March 2020 with contributions from other five United Nations entities: ILO, UNDP, UNESCO, UNICEF and UNFPA.

In 2019, the Commission adopted Resolution 75/4, Strengthening regional cooperation to tackle air pollution challenges in Asia and the Pacific, which highlighted the links between air pollution and multiple SDGs. In addition to asking the Secretariat to provide technical support to member States, the resolution calls for the voluntary exchange of experiences of subregional and regional cooperation, analytical studies, collaboration with other United Nations bodies to tackle air pollution in the region. In response, ESCAP has convened an inter-agency working group, including WHP, UNEP, UNDP, UNICEF and UNIDO to coordinate actions and accelerate regional action, including through country level actions as part of the Decade of Action. ESCAP also developed a project in conjunction with partner agencies, to assist multiple cities in the ASEAN region to develop city-level air pollution action plans.

ESCAP cooperates with other UN system organizations to achieve coherence and synergies in capacity building, technical assistance, normative and analytical activities with regard to data and statistics. ESCAP is one of ten implementing agencies for a development account tranche 10 project on data and statistics in support of the 2030 Agenda. ESCAP also cooperates with the UN DESA Statistics Division, particularly in the area of innovation for the 2030 Agenda, the recently launched UN Legal Identity Agenda, and disaster-related statistics. In 2021, ESCAP will launch a joint project with UN DESA Statistics Division and OECD’s Paris21 to strengthen national statistical systems to navigate policy with data to leave no one behind. In 2020, ESCAP will host a 2nd Ministerial Conference on Civil Registration and Vital Statistics in Asia and the Pacific to assess progress with a regional initiative to, Get Every One in the Picture aligned with SDG targets 16.9 and 17.18, and agree on acceleration actions for the remainder of the Asian and Pacific CRVS decade (2015-2024).

ESCAP joined UN-Energy and the Technical Advisor Group on SDG7 to enhance collaboration with other UN agencies to prepare policy briefs and the global review of SDG7 progress through the Custodian of SDG7.

ESCAP is a member of UN-Water, and has co-coordinated, together with ESCWA, the UN-Water Working Group on Regional Level Coordination. It has now come to an end of its term and a new open-ended Expert Group is being constituted to ensure regional level coordination on water issues. The work if this group has helped ensuring coordination amongst various UN Agencies and other stakeholders involved in the follow-up and review and implementation of SDG 6 as well as other water-related issues in Asia and the Pacific. The issue faced with this group was the alignment with the work of the former Regional Coordination Mechanism Thematic Working Groups but has been helpful especially in the area of strengthening networks and monitoring of SDG 6 in Asia and the Pacific as well as for coordinating regional input to global processes (2030 UN Water strategy, annual World Water Development Reports, etc.). An issue to keep in mind would be the alignment/synergies with the new regional issue-based coalitions.

ESCAP is a member of UN-Ocean, being the only UN Regional Commission with membership status. During the preparatory meetings for the 2020 UN Ocean Conference, ESCAP participated in the UN-Oceans meeting on 5 February 2020 in New York. ESCAP is currently providing feedback to IOC’s zero draft of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021 – 2030 Implementation Plan in coordination with other system agencies. The active participation of ESCAP in this inter-agency mechanism offers an opportunity to align our mandate within the work on ocean protection in the region, and to supporting member States more efficiently. Further collaboration through the mechanism could contribute to the development of enhanced indicators to meet SDG14 targets through the incorporation of scientific developments. In this regard, the regional cooperation capacities and infrastructure of our regional commission can support the implementation of UN-Oceans strategies and accelerate the delivery of the 2030 agenda collectively.

6. How has your organization engaged with stakeholder groups, both in supporting implementation at the country, regional and global levels, and within your own organization? If yes, please provide main highlights, including any lessons learned. If your organization has established any multi-stakeholder partnerships to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, please describe them and how their performances are being monitored and reviewed.

ESCAP has collaborated with major groups and other stakeholders in building the regional follow up and review system on the SDGs. Their participation enables a realistic understanding of progress being made and also informs ESCAP’s policy advocacy work. The partnership with the Asia-Pacific Regional Civil Society Engagement Mechanism (representing some 18 constituencies) and other regional networks has ensured a diversity of views at the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development and the People’s Forum as a major objective. The diversity of participation is regularly monitored. A formal evaluation of the partnership has been conducted (in 2019) and reviewed by ESCAP and the APRCEM jointly. Other indicators of impact include the formalizing of the Youth Forum in advance of the APFSD, as a purely youth-led initiative, the donor support (outside of ESCAP), and the actions of stakeholders themselves to raise funds for the regional follow up and review.

ESCAP supported regional local governments associations to establish the Asia-Pacific Local Government (APLG) coordinating body whose aimis to increase local government engagement at the APFSD, following an ESCAP convened ‘Local government consultation for the effective implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and New Urban Agenda in Asia and the Pacific’ held at the United Cities and Local Governments Asia-Pacific (UCLG ASPAC) Congress in 2018.

ESCAP plays a convening role in a multi-stakeholder partnership disability-inclusive development, through the Working Group on the Asian andPacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities, 2013-2022. The Working Group comprises of 30 members consisting 15 ESCAP member States and 15 civil society organizations operating at the regional and subregional levels in Asia and the Pacific, and seeks to provide technical advice and support to ESCAP members and associate members, to promote the full and effective implementation of the Asia and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities, 2013-2022, in alignment with the 2030 Agenda’s principle of leaving no one behind.

ESCAP has established a regional initiative to “Get everyone in the picture” which focusses attention on civil registration and vital statistics. This multi-stakeholder partnership of government, development actors and civil society has played an important role in raising attention, providing resources for advocacy, and making specific recommendations for government follow up.

ESCAP has established the ESCAP Sustainable Business Network through which it is collaborating with the private sector on addressing SDGs. The ESBN is organized into six taskforces: Banking and Finance; Digital Economy; Disaster and Climate Risk Reduction; GreenEconomy; Innovation; and Youth and Women Entrepreneurship. https://esbn.unescap.org/

7. Has your organization organized any conferences, forums or events designed to facilitate exchange of experience, peer and mutual learning in connection with the SDGs? If yes, please provide a brief summary, below and include lessons learned and gaps identified based on the outcomes of these events. Please also include any events you want to organize in the coming years.

ESCAP has organized the first and second edition of the Asia-Pacific Day for the Ocean, in 2018 and 2019 respectively, which offered a regional platform to accelerate action on the ocean (SDG 14-Life below water), as well as fostered partnerships, environmental participation, and community engagement. Some of the gaps identified, included appropriate follow-up of voluntary commitments made within the scope of the 2017 UN Ocean Conference, as well as gender and human rights mainstreaming across ocean policies. Based on the outcomes on this event, ESCAP is actively participating in the development of the 2020 UN Ocean Conference, to facilitate and represent the concerns of Asia/Pacific. Furthermore, a third Asia pacific day for the Ocean will be convened in late 2020, which is now envisaged as an institutionalized annual multi-stakeholder platform.

In 2019, key sessions for disaster risk reduction and resilience were incorporated in SDG forums. To accelerate the integration of disaster resilience in SDGs, a special session on disaster risk reduction was held as part of the sub-regional consultations of APFSD where member States called for use of science and technology in DRR to accelerate the process of achieving SDGs particularly through establishing linkages between disaster/climate and development platforms such the South Asia Hydromet Forum with the SASDG Forum.”

ESCAP has begun working on developing a strategy where the SAHF can substantially contribute to future South Asia SDG forums (sub-regional consultation arm of the APFSD) to build institutional linkages to the SAHF and evolve a collective plan of action to implement disaster and climate resilience measures in development planning.

The Asia Pacific Disaster Report, 2019 was customized for each of the five ESCAP subregions, namely East and North-East Asia, North and Central Asia (English, Russian), South-East Asia, South and South-West Asia and the Pacific to support policy discussions at the subregional level and drafts of these publications served as background documents of the subregional preparatory meetings for the Seventh Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development. In 2017 ESCAP has co-organized a political session at the 3rd Asia-Pacific Water Summit in Yangon to discuss financing of water-related SDGs. Speakers from governments, the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and the academia has contributed to the session. The analytical work of ESCAP on “Enabling Policies for Financing Water Related Sustainable Development Goals” had framed the session and contributed to the development of the “Yangon Declaration: The Pathways Forward”.

The meeting on Asia-Pacific Sustainable Urban Transport Systems to support the region’s achievement of the 2030 Agenda is scheduled to be held in Bangkok in September 2020 and will aim to facilitate exchange of experience, peer and mutual learning in connection with the SDGs, particularly on smart, safe and green urban transport and mobility.

The Expert Group meeting on Policies for Climate Change Adaption and Mitigation in the Transport Sector in Asia and the Pacific is scheduled to be held in Bangkok in September 2020 and will aim to generate policy discussion and ways forward on how transport can contribute to the attainment of SDG 13.

Forum on Trade Digitalization for Sustainable Regional Integration, 14-15 March 2019 – The forum explored how trade digitalization, including through a new United Nations treaty entitled the Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-Border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific, could contribute to sustainable development. The event highlighted the great potential of paperless trade in making trade more efficient and inclusive, contributing to SDGs 8, 9 and 12, as well as SDG 17. The potential of trade process automation in reducing the impact of international trade on the environment was also acknowledged.

ESCAP in cooperation with all other Regional Commissions and the Ministry of Energy Thailand hosted the 10th International Forum on Energy for Sustainable Development (IFESD) with the theme of “Translating Targets into Actions” in Bangkok 7-8 October 2019. It’s an important meeting to explore pathways to close the gap between targets and actions with focus on SDG7. Experts from the energy sector, representatives from governments, UN entities, international organizations and other stakeholders discussed major issues and demonstrate actions to achieve the SDG7 and meet commitments to mitigate climate change. A series of roundtables, parallel sessions and side events organized by different stakeholders on energy issues like clean cooking, access to electricity, renewable energy, energy efficiency, and cleaner use of fossil fuels. Details are available at https://www.unescap.org/events/10th-international-forum-energy-sustainable-development.

ESCAP organized the 7th Asia Pacific Urban Forum (APUF-7), held in October 2020, at which ESCAP, UN agencies and external partners launched the Penang Platform for Sustainable Urbanization, which will support implementation of SDG 11 and other urban-related SDGs across the region. During the forum, ESCAP organized with UNEP an Expert Group Meeting on ‘Delivering transformative solutions to address urban air pollution in Asia Pacific’, to support and promote air quality actions related to SDGs 3 and 11.

In December 2019, ESCAP organized a regional forum on advancing disability-inclusive development that provided a much-needed platform for participating member States to identify technical cooperation needs and to share good practices and lessons learnt in implementing the Incheon Strategy and Beijing Action Plan, in alignment with the 2030 Agenda and SDGs. A main recommendation by meeting participants was the need to provide technical assistance in harmonizing and translating international and regional frameworks– including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Incheon Strategy andthe Beijing Action Plan – into national legislation, policies and plans. Further, there was a suggestion to develop a regional disability inclusion index that harmonizes reporting requirements of the core disability-related international and regional frameworks.

*ESCAP, Asia Pacific Water Forum, World Water Forum (2018) Enabling Policies For Financing Water Related Sustainable Development Goals, accessed at: https://www.unescap.org/resources/enabling-policies-financing-water-related-sustainable-development-goals

8. Is there any other information you would like to share, including annual reports of your organization and any impact assessment or evaluation reports? If yes, please use the space below and attach the document(s). Please also use this space to provide any other information, comments or remarks you deem necessary.

  1. All reports on evaluation of ESCAP’s work, including those related to SDGs, are available on the ESCAP website at https://www.unescap.org/partners/monitoring-and-evaluation/evaluation/reports
  2. ESCAP’s report on the evaluation activities of the Commission during the biennium 2016–2017 (https://www.unescap.org/sites/default/files/Report-on-the-evaluation-activities-of-ESCAP-2016--2017.pdf)
  3. ESCAP Technical Cooperation Highlights 2018-2019 (https://www.unescap.org/resources/tc-highlights-2018-2019)
  4. ESCAP Policy Coherence for Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience: From Evidence to Implementation (https://www.unescap.org/resources/policy-coherence-disaster-risk-reduction-and-resilience-evidence-implementation)
  5. Policy Perspectives 2019: Sustainable Energy in Asia and the Pacific (https://www.unescap.org/resources/policy-perspectives-2019-sustainable-energy-asia-and-pacific)
  6. Asia and the Pacific Renewable Energy Status Report 2019 (https://www.unescap.org/resources/asia-and-pacific-renewable-energy-status-report-2019)
  7. Electricity Connectivity Roadmap for Asia and the Pacific: Strategies towards interconnecting the region’s grids (https://www.unescap.org/publications/electricity-connectivity-roadmap-asia-and-pacific-strategies-towards-interconnecting)
  8. Asia-Pacific Energy Portal (https://asiapacificenergy.org/)

9. In your view, what should strategic directions look like for the UN system in support of the 2030 Agenda and SDGs in the Decade of Action? What key elements should they include and what major challenges should they address?

At the current rate, neither the Asia-Pacific region as a whole, nor any of its sub-regions, are on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in the next decade. Although people are wealthier, better nourished and better educated than 15 years ago, the region still has not found a sustainable and inclusive path. There is an urgent need to adopt new policies and interventions that drive transformation especially in relation to social inclusion, resource use, and investment flows. To address these challenges, the following priority action areas should be considered:

  1. Fulfil commitments on existing environmental agreements

Asia and the Pacific hosts 17 of the 36 global biodiversity hotspots, 7 of the world’s 17 megadiverse countries, the highest marine biodiversity in the world, with the longest and most diverse coral reef systems, more than half of the world’s remaining mangrove areas and the highest seagrass diversity. The management of these shared resources requires cooperation amongst countries. Governments should adhere to and fulfil their to existing multilateral environmental agreements and resolutions commitments aimed at securing the global environmental commons (including under the Convention on Biodiversity and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification) and to raise ambitions in line with the latest science (especially under the Paris Agreement of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

  1. Nurture sustainable and just economies

Fast economic growth, rising population, rapid urbanization, expansion of manufacturing, and the changing consumption pattern of the emerging middle class in Asia and the Pacific have all contributed to increasing resource use in the region, which in turn has come with rising environmental pressure and threats to ecosystems. To accelerate progress towards the 2030 Agenda, governments should adopt ecological budgeting, implement tax reforms and remove perverse subsidies including those on fossil fuels to steer economies towards lower resource and emissions intensity. Faster progress towards sustainable and just economies can also be achieved by removing discriminatory laws and regulations; preventing violence and harassment against women; collecting data and carrying out research on gender norms and attitudes; and supporting women’s leadership in decision-making and policy-making processes.

  1. Build resilience to disaster risks

The increasingly frequent and intense disasters jeopardize the overall achievement of the 2030 Agenda in Asia and the Pacific which suffer annual average loss of 2.5% of current GDP to natural disasters through to 2030. Disaster risks often converge with critical socioeconomic vulnerabilities perpetuating intergenerational poverty and marginalization. Governments can break the vicious circle between disaster, poverty and inequality by (i) investing in building resilience including through robust social protection schemes(ii) capitalizing on technological innovations in the reduction of, response to and recovery from disasters; and (iii) building on regional actions and systems to address the transboundary nature of disasters.

  1. Accelerate the decarbonization of the economies

The region has the most intensive carbon footprint per unit of GDP (0.412 kgr of Co2 per PPP of $ of GDP compared with 0.325 of the world average) and approximately 73% of these emissions come from Energy. In 2017, carbon emissions from Asia-Pacific consumption with respect to activities related to the combustion of oil, gas and coal alone made up nearly half of the world share of the respective emissions. The region’s energy needs are expected to grow by 37 per cent between 2018 and 2030. Meetings these growing needs in a way that is compatible with net zero emissions by the middle of the Century requires a rapid switch to more sustainable energy sources. This will require major redirection of public and private investments into renewable energy in addition to halting any new coal-based power units and start a plan to decommission existing ones. Trade is an important feature of the market for renewable energy-related goods and services. Trade-related policy tools can incentivize the transition to renewable energy generation and to help their industries to capture and retain part of the fast-expanding market for renewable energy goods and services. The transport sector is responsible for a quarter of global carbon emission and policies should be put in place for rapid and drastic decarbonization of the transport sector. Additional decarbonization measures include the change or incentives for industrial investments, the adoption of stricter emissions regulations and the promotion of sustainable consumption and production.

  1. Empower local governments and community groups

Asia-Pacific countries need to empower local governments and community groups to deliver against the sustainable development goals in an inclusive, participatory and integrated fashion. It has been estimated that 65% of the total SDG targets need to be delivered by local authorities and actors, but this is not matched with requisite decision-making authority. Effective decentralization including for taxation and expenditures ensures that local governments have the appropriate responsibility, authority and capacity to take action.

  1. Build an inclusive social protection floor

Increased public spending from the low levels in Asia Pacific (3.7% GDP) to match the global average in the area of education, health and social protection could lift over 350 million out of moderate or extreme poverty by 2030. An inclusive social protection floor is important to achieve the SDGs in the context of fast ageing population in many developing countries in Asia and the Pacific where social protection systems remain fragmented and under invested. Two converging accelerators have emerged, including (i) enhancing public spending on social protection at the national level, with a focus on the most vulnerable groups and (ii) sharing good practices and building necessary regional modalities and frameworks for advancing cooperation on social protection.

10. Please suggest one or two endeavours or initiatives that the UN system organizations could undertake together to support the implementation of the SDGs between now and 2030.

The United Nations reform process has given the UN system organizations an opportunity to sharpen its coordinated actions in order to support countries to accelerate their pace on the path to sustainable development. In identifying priority actions, the UN Development System in Asia and the Pacific has come together to review the regional SDG progress assessment, which serves as a basis for identifying priority areas where there are regional and national connections and where expertise of various UN entities exist. At the same time, the UN Development System in Asia and the Pacific has also been looking at ways in which the regional expertise and resources can be better channeled to the national level and complement national efforts.

Examples include:

  • A regional issue-based coalition on Climate change mitigation: Identified as one of the five substantive focus areas of UN Development System in Asia and the Pacific, the Coalition focuses on driving decarbonization through targeted support to countries for raising ambitions in their NDCs, dedicated work on the phase out of coal and a decade of action on air pollution. Co-led by ESCAP and UNEP, the Coalition will work on four action lines including (i) intergovernmental modality to raise ambitions (ii) Regional track with a possible funding mechanism (iii) joint action to assist cities and countries with clear transformation and (iv) outreach campaign. The Coalition will also focus on ensuring stimulus packages for COVID-19 response and recovery are aligned with decarbonization objectives.

 

  • Investing in SDG data and statistics in Asia and the Pacific: The Asia-Pacific SDG Progress Report 2020 draws attention to the uneven pace of progress across sub-regions and groups of people. This points to the need of investing in SDG data and statistics to close the data gaps and inform policy decisions and accelerated actions. To this end, the interagency working group on data and statistics, co-led by ESCAP and UNFPA, will work to ensure coordinated regional support and advisory services to build capacity of the national statistical ecosystem for SDG data and statistics.